Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Man's Burden



by Eliana


When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband started staring at the wall a lot. Specifically I'd notice him focusing on that top corner of a room where the walls and ceiling meet. First thought? The man was losing his mind.

The real answer? Sudden Onset Responsibility. I just invented this disorder but I can definitely make a case for it being a real, serious, mental condition. The reality that there would be a child in our house, one that we would have to take care of, forever, had worked its way into the inner corridors of my husband's brain.

Part of this was about money: I'd quit my job. Part of it was about history: his mother died before my husband was a year old. Part of it was about being a good guy and wanting to do a good job. A good enough job that it would be hard for our child to grow up to be an artist because he'd have no grief to work through on the dad front.

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The firstborn child was baptized last week with my husband doing the honors. He was more nervous than the kid, worried about messing up after not having done any of this in the twenty years since his mission. Thankfully, his own father came to town for the occasion. Watching The Old One review wording with The Next One, on behalf of The Young One, was touching.

It all went fine, no redo necessary, baptism and confirmation.

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The majority of my husband's teacher co-workers are women supporting their families, whether or not there is a male in the household.

The majority of my community college students are female, matching national trends.

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He walks in the door from work, including the hour commute each way. Changes into shorts, chases the kids. Then the phone rings. He goes and changes back into his work clothes.  "Sister X needs a blessing. I'll be back."

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I did not realize the weight of Man Expectations on men until I had been married for nearly a decade. I feel bad about this, for discounting the societal pressures and especially religious pressures that good men face. There is a burden, even when you acknowledge that other people have it tougher. Yes, the husband is lucky to be middle-class, employed, living in a free country, that whole package. But wanting to do it well—and feeling how much depends on it—is a heavy weight.

So men, how do you manage the burden of manhood? How can the women who love you help?
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Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has a degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gif Image credit: 3 l o 0 o (used with permission).

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