Men, could you hold down the fort while your wife braved the storm to rescue a stranded family member?
A few days ago, there was a terrible snowstorm. My home was pretty much cut off in a torrential flurry of snow. Walking outside meant wading through drifts up to your thighs and the wind was so bitingly cold that you couldn’t feel your fingers.
The forecast was for light flurries, so my mother-in-law had driven over for a quick visit with her grandson. She stayed later than she planned due to the allure of my son’s cuteness and, when she set out, the snow was already getting heavy. By the time she’d driven two miles, she was penned in by four separate RTAs and stranded in the snow.
Four hours later, my wife was determined to walk out to her and bring her home.
I was completely opposed. It was dangerous and had the potential to end up with two family members stuck instead of one. Worse, everything I’d ever been taught about being a man ran contrary to the idea of staying at home to look after the baby while my poor, fragile wife hiked out into the snow to play the hero.
I ran through several, probably derogatory, arguments as to why it was a bad idea, ending with “if anyone’s going out there, it’s me.” My wife wouldn’t even consider it. She wanted to go. It was her mother.
Bundling herself up and packing a bag of blankets and hot drinks, my wife set off to the sounds of my repeated protestations that I couldn’t believe I was letting her do this. I spent the next hour panicking and pacing the house while imagining life as a single parent.
Suddenly, I got a phone call. They were both safe and sound and had stopped off at a local takeaway to get fish and chips and did I want them to bring me back some? This was not good for my blood pressure.
As I later berated them both for their risk taking, a deeper question occurred to me: why was I so opposed to my wife being the one to go? Our various faults and strengths are too individual to simplify down to one of us being practical and the other not, but she is clearly the better person to deal with this kind of situation. Did it honestly matter that it was the woman who was playing the hero on this one occasion?
Clearly, it didn’t, nor should it. Women are just as capable as men of being soldiers, police officers, firefighters or simply taking risks to help others. The problem is, if women are both having babies and hiking out into the snow to rescue stranded relatives, then what’s left for the men to do? What exactly does being a man mean?
I guess that’s a question that every man needs to answer for himself; sometimes it means facing down a snowstorm and sometimes it means staying home to look after the baby and waiting at the door with a hot cup of tea when the heroine of the day returns with the damsel in distress in tow.
Image credit: State Farm/Flickr