In his brief essay for the New York Times yesterday, author Teddy Wayne captured my feelings about raising a son. I, unlike Wayne and his wife, however, was glad to be having a son. I had even had a prescient dream a couple of weeks before my CVS test when a newborn baby announced, “Hi, mom, it’s me,” and he was a male. My husband expressed a similar—not concern, really, for all he really wanted was a healthy child—guardedness.
Wayne wants to make certain that his “arms-wide-open-to-the-world” son Angus learns the balance that he himself struggles with, that :
“…while I wouldn’t want my son to be versed in the behavioral skill set lately (and sometimes lazily) categorized as features of toxic masculinity, I also don’t want him to be a pushover. The ostensibly proper balance — confident and strong but not arrogant and aggressive, sensitive without being a crybaby — is subjective and murky.”
These were exactly my feelings, and inasmuch as it’s my husband who pointed the piece out to me to make sure I read it, his too. I guess the desire to raise a decent human has less to do with gender and more to do with—being human.
We both have watched our boy, now 31 and a man by all measure, navigate the waters of disappointment, make less-than-smart-or-kind decisions, and develop a guardedness of his own. Fortunately our son has also had a conscious and devoted role model, his father, something my husband lacked in his youth. What he said when I mentioned that yesterday was, “Yes, but he showed me the power in the ability to change.” Yup—that’s who I married.
Wayne ends imagining a “hypothetical speech.”
“I felt myself starting to well up, simultaneously watching my 1-year-old on a jungle gym while wondering who he would be as an adult. In my hazy projection, he had figured out how to be a man with a certainty that has thus far eluded his father.”
For us, it’s no longer a hazy projection. Our son has become that man of whom we are well-proud, who will marry next fall, who, like his father, works to be a decent person. If Wayne and his wife are pondering the way forward with that goal in mind, they can do no better.
3 thoughts on “A Good Man”
Reading this description of your son and the kind of father your husband has been to him reminds me of Jack — and the way he was with his kids — on “This Is Us.” Do you know that show?
Yes…My husband doesn’t understand why I love that show so, but he IS like Jack! (I’m nothing like Rebecca.)
This is written in such an interesting way, weaving your relationship as a family together and revealing how your son has grown into just the kind of man you want him to be!