As I type this, my boys are playing "sleepover" on the floor of our livingroom, curled up in baby blankets I was trying to fold from the laundry (oh well). They are whispering conspiratorially to each other, probably about trucks. I look at them and I can't help but love my sweet, energetic little boys. I wonder sometimes about what it is I have to bring to the table for these impressionable little men in training.
Just like girls, who are taught by society to aspire to an image of physical beauty that is unattainable, young boys are taught a similar message about strength, appearance, and success that, if it is attainable, is undesirable. Men are bombarded every day with images of the tall, dark and handsome superman type figure. Who cares if he's vapid, abusive or cruel, so long as he's good looking and rich, right? Such a sad image of real manhood. I think this image misses the true inner strength of a real man, the man some women don't even believe exists until he walks into her life. Sadly so many women settle for less not realising there are good men out there. I pray every day that my boys don't get caught up in society's vision of manhood being about size, strength, or paycheck.
So, what makes a good man? What inner quality do I pray my boys will have? Strength. Not physical strength, but an emotional strength that will carry them through rough times. Strength to be brave enough to love with their whole being. Strength to be unafraid to show emotions when they need to but also strength enough to control their emotions so they can hold someone else in times of need. Strength to fight the good fight, but also strength to let go of a fight not worth having. Strength enough to apologise when they're wrong but also to be charitable when they're right. Strength to believe might doesn't equal right and that all beings deserve our respect and care. Strength to be themselves, even if what they love about themselves doesn't make them popular, rich or famous.
Our boys won't have to look far for their example. Their father is a man of this kind of inner strength and true manhood at his core. He dedicates every moment to our family, rarely thinking of his own wants or needs. Like St. Joseph, his favourite saint, he chooses to live a life of abiding and daily faith, acting quietly and with great gratitude for all God has entrusted to him. As a mother all I can do is show them a man like their father is worth loving and let them know that they are worthy of unconditional love just as they are. I pray that they always see how grateful I am that when God knit them in the secret of my womb, He created them in His own image as a gift to our family. I pray they strive to live their lives trying to come closer to that perfection instead of the false image the world would teach them to strive for.