Caregivers are heroes among us. And every story can inspire, encourage, and inform others. We invite you to share your story.
No one thought it odd that I was stepping into the role of round the clock caregiver. Sad, yes. But not odd.
What they didn’t understand, and many didn’t ever really believe, was that my boyfriend, who was a few years younger still, went with me. Not as support for me, or just because he didn’t want us to be apart. But to help me care for a man who had become to weak to hold a pen, much less a fork or a glass of water.
Their disbelief wasn’t based on Tom’s age, but on his gender. Asking the girl to become the nurse was understood and accepted. Asking a man to not only be a caregiver, but a caregiver for another man, one not yet related (Tom and I weren’t married until two and a half weeks before my father left his body) was, to many people, a ridiculous request.
Why? Because men “aren’t natural caregivers.”
Which is, of course, complete nonsense. Tom was every bit as much a “natural caregiver” as I am, and I’ve had the privilege of knowing many other amazing caregivers who just happened NOT to be female. But that was the stereotype, and it showed up in people’s attitudes in many obvious, and not so obvious ways.
That was 28 years ago. And I am dismayed to find that stereotype persisting even now.
Men are caring for their parents, their lovers and spouses, their children, their communities and their world. Not because they have to, but because it is a natural thing for them to do.
At The Good Men Project we want to make it easier for the male caregiver to be accepted for the natural caring individual that they are. We also want to highlight stories that offer encouragement and practical advice and information for those men who find themselves taking on that role.
We want to continue that series with other stories from men who have filled that role. I invite you to submit your story of being a Male Caregiver directly to me at dixiegillaspie at gmail dot com.
To read the stories that started our series, The Male Caregiver, click HERE.
Photo: Flickr/Danny Chapman