Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a variety of newspapers. Here's this week's, just in time for Mother's Day!
Forget that Mars and Venus thing. I have found the definitive difference between the genders.
Or rather, my nephew found it.
It is a YouTube series appropriately called, "Is it a good idea to microwave this?"
Now if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer. But these enterprising young males have built a microwave room, plastered with tin foil and a video camera, where they set things like Snow Globes, Twinkies, LED batteries, Xboxes, and more on high for a few minutes and then watch through a window to see what happens.
I would hazard a guess that 90% of their YouTube viewers are male. I admit to finding it rather mesmerizing watching the plasma sparks burst out of the batteries, and a snicker did escape my lips as the Snow Globe exploded, but I wouldn't have searched for them in the first place. But my nephew, all on his own, discovered these university-aged pyromaniacs. And when he showed my husband, Keith said, "Cool!" (Warning: some of their videos do have offensive language).
Males, I believe, are pre-programmed to like blowing stuff up. Women, on the other hand, like to talk about males who like to blow stuff up. My daughter said that if two university aged females were launching a YouTube channel, they'd probably turn it into a talk show rather than a combustible experience. And I think she's right.
But that doesn’t mean that women are inherently more peaceful than men. I’ve never bought that whole philosophy that “if women ruled the world, there would be no more wars.” Anyone who has ever hung around junior high school girls for any amount of time knows that girls can be every bit as mean as boys—and in fact can be far pettier.
While junior high girls may be intimidating, a mother protecting her brood is downright dangerous. When outsiders attack, we don’t offer to negotiate and sing Kum-ba-yah. We drag out the heavy artillery.
I think it’s because motherhood brings out new, overpowering emotions. When you become a mother, you make a decision to forever have your heart walk around outside your body, as author Elizabeth Stone said. You have very little direct influence over the most important part of your life.
Sure we can control our children when they’re young, but as they get older that control slowly fades. We can’t keep them from disappointments. We can’t save them when friends turn their backs, or when they fail at something they pursued fiercely, or when they get cut from the team. We can’t protect them when others gossip or badmouth or betray.
And that kind of hurt is worse, in many ways, than if it happened to you. We moms want our children to be happy, and when they’re not, we hurt, too.
In the midst of that hurt we have to be the ones to rise above it; we have to be the ones to teach our kids resiliency; to help them out of the funk; to help them not to give up, but to try again. We have to put aside our own pain to help them out of theirs. And it’s not easy.
As my own children have grown I have found parenting far less physically demanding but far more emotionally exhausting. We dream so much for our kids, and yet we need to let our children be free to pursue their own dreams on their own. That’s an awful lot to ask of a mother, and that’s why I think this Sunday all of us moms deserve a day where we are lauded, applauded, and hugged galore.
And some chocolate wouldn’t hurt, either. And no, it’s not a good idea to microwave that.
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Labels: columns, masculinity, mothering