The path of the male nurturer (and the struggle to prevent easy complacency)

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There is a way in which my ongoing struggle to ensure a nurturing core as a parent has helped me reflect on my internalized and toxic masculinity in a way no other endeavor or life experience has. It isn’t enough to just be a “good guy” (a title for which the bar is set so shockingly low across this globe that it barely qualifies you as a half-decent human being). It isn’t enough to just love in the lazy, entitled (and often infantile) manner that so many guys do with their life partners, something that is celebrated across pop culture as cute and charming rather than being highlighted for the damage it creates. It isn’t enough to just show up and compare ourselves to guys who are more dickish and ignorant than we are to make ourselves look good.

I know now that the male nurturer has to have the humility to start from scratch, to pay heed to the matriarchs around him, and actually learn from the times he messed up. Often it feels like suspended animation. My ego is both my worst enemy and best friend when it comes to parenting. He is a scumbag when it comes to dragging me down from evolving further, but he is also my most honest counsel when it comes to dealing with my shit so I can be a better father.

I’ve realized that us men cannot hope to love and nurture by just following some passive dictum of doing no harm. Our mere existence in this patriarchal world causes harm. Yes, even all us “good” and occasionally feminist men. Reflection is not just some smug asshole we see in a fucking mirror.

For if I’ve learnt anything from the last 17 months as a parent to a brilliant and liberated soul like Daya, it is this:

If loving and nurturing well isn’t the most important thing a guy’s doing with his time, he ain’t living right.

Not in this patriarchal world at least.

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