When I found out I was pregnant, I felt overwhelmed by happiness, and powerful!
Every woman knows this feeling, it’s almost a magic create a human being and YOU are the creator of that magic!
When finally my son was born, he was healthy and perfect… and I felt as if someone had placed an immovable weight on my back. Suddenly my life and my happiness were irretrievably tied to that little human being; he depended entirely on me, not only to eat, sleep, grow, learn to walk, survive, but also to fulfill him self as an individual.
To become a person.
What kind of person he would become, would depend on me.
What an incredible responsibility!
From the purely practical point of view raising my son was easy: he ‘s always been extremely smart, he quickly learned to walk, talk, he’s always been a good student, he never gave me great concerns… I was lucky.
But, as a mother and a woman, I always thought I owed him more: I had to help my son to become a man, and not as a male but as a complete human being, capable of loving, being loved and, above all, respecting women.
I got divorced when my son was 3. It was the first important choice I made for my son’s sake, to safeguard his emotional integrity. In our house, at some point, when love lost, silence won. My husband and I didn’t fight, we didn’t raise our voices or break plates or glasses, we just ignored each other.
It was at that moment that I said NO.
What were we teaching him about love? How could he believe in love, respect, passion, dialogue, hugs, if he didn’t see them reflected in us? How could he one day find love or believe he deserves it?
The second, fundamental choice I made for my son was continuing to respect his father, without ever uttering a word against and continuing to decide with my ex-husband everything about him.
I didn’t want him to feel compelled to take a stand between two people he loved most and, above all, I wanted him to understand that is always worth loving, even when love ends.
Once again I was lucky: my ex-husband thought exactly like me.
And then I decided to ignore all the stereotypes and clichés about MALES (have you ever noticed how many are there?) to educate a MAN.
The most widespread and even the most harmful cliché is that men don’t cry.
How many times have we heard someone ask a child: “Don’t cry like a girl!” or “stop whining”!… as if crying were only a characteristic of women or weak (then women are weak???) or as if manifesting emotions makes less manly.
I had a wonderful father, stable and strong, who always made me feel protected and safe and still, he openly manifested his emotions without shame: love, sorrow, tenderness, compassion…
I always respected my son tears, exhorting him to share with others his emotions and feeling, I wanted him to learn that male or female, you are really strong only if you feel real emotions; if you open your heart to others, is easier to make you understand and find someone to hold you when you need it.
Cliché number two: “Women are responsible for housework”.
I am sure that this stereotype is the work of a lazy and macho man convinced it was right to give us the most boring jobs!
I pushed my son learning to cook, wash dishes, load the washing machine, iron, to make him independent but also to make him understand that behind a clean house there is hard work. In the future it will be important he respects his woman sharing with her all the tasks, domestic matters included.
“Men don’t talk, they act”.
Another stereotype I’ve fought.
What does it even really mean?
Speaking is weak?
Women speak a lot so they are not able to act?
Can men act, choose, decide without consulting before their women?
I don’t know, but I did the exact opposite pushing my son to use words, giving them the right weight because they can hurt more than a sword, and to share his intentions accepting that sometimes, you may not know what to do.
And, speaking of words, here’s another cliché I tried to take down:
“Women say no it means yes”.
NO means NO, always, and our No must be respected, whether we are talking about work, choices or sex. Especially sex.
Yes, even sex was a theme I had to address with my son.
Not only contraception and consent.
We live in a fast and hyper-technological world and we just need a click to access to any kind of experience so I thought was important teach my son that sex is not a gymnastic performance or a marathon or a race as often appears in some films or videogames, but a meeting between two persons. It doesn’t matter it’s love or just a casual relationship, what matters is respect.
Finally, my mantra.
Every day I push my son to develop an emotional intelligence, to recognize both his feelings and others too, to be kind. Everyone has their own story, their past and their sensibility. My hope is my son will live his life respecting both himself and others and, above all, loving and being loved.
This is my challenge and, to be honest, looking at the magnificent soul he developed, I’m proud of him and, why not? I’m proud of me too.
Previously published on “Equality Includes You”, a Medium publication.
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