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on being a *real* Man

June 17, 2007

dame wiggins of Lee started it all with a post about the *ideal Man* (a mythical creature akin to dragons, unicorns, and virgins)

[the comments on that post alone make it well worth the read]

shortly thereafter she posted on my blog (modern day Bastards) insisting that i was *now* a real man for having broken the cycle my father began with my brother and i some thirty plus plus years ago.

(and, if you’re reading this, dame, i did get what you meant in that comment, it just got me to thinking and now i’m stretching the concept a little farther)

all that, along with father’s day coming up, got me thinking about what it really does mean to be a man. or more to the point, what it takes.

now, when my wife and i first met i was not a *real man* by a long cry.

in fact, i was an overgrown kid with delusions of moral superiority.


my mother (nods to the ghost of Freud ) was a *fixer*

something went wrong with one of her kids, she jumped in and *fixed* it (or at least tried)

it went a long way towards spoiling me.

there were other issues, but suffice it to say i was nothing close to mature


dropping out of college didn’t make me a man

learning a trade (and i learned many) didn’t make me a man

the love of a good woman didn’t make me a man.

nor did the love of a couple bad ones.


going to prison that first time didn’t make me a man


but by the time i got locked up again the transformation had begun.

i wasn’t there yet, but the process had started.

i look at myself now and know i am still nobody’s ideal man. my wife could name some things she’d like to see improved (though i think she’d also admit the list is shorter than it was last year).

my second term in prison, by far the longer stretch, did not make me a man either. but it did toughen me up. and that is where i happened to be when i learned to be a man (if you can appreciate the difference).

i grew up with no particular male role model. my dad left when i was four and my mother didn’t remarry for another twelve years – and by that time i was too rock-head spoiled to let my step father be a role model to me (though i have since learned quite a bit from the man).

it is no one thing that makes one a man.

it is a collection of little things.

i’ll include a short list (which should by no means be considered definitive

  • a man should be able to stand up to his mother, his mother in law, and his wife/girlfriend
  • a man should be able to argue with any of them without fighting or frightening
  • a man should be willing and capable to do violence should the need arise
  • a man should do everything in his power to avoid that need
  • a man should be capable of being both tender and tough
  • a man should be able to talk to kids like they are people
  • a man should be able to fix things
  • for those things a man can’t fix he should be willing to call the man who can
  • a man should be able to put the needs of others first
  • a man should be able to support his family
  • if a man can’t support his family he should be the first to step up and do whatever he CAN do
  • a man should be able to ask for help when he needs it
  • a man should be able to remember his own childhood, when even the littlest things could be counted as great tragedies
  • a man should remember to bring his wife/girlfriend flowers
  • a man should remember that little eyes are always watching. little ears are always listening
  • a man should remember that *a good sense of direction* does not necessarily equate directly to *knowing which streets to actually take to get somewhere*

i’m sure i could go on.

the point is, i know that it is not the grand gestures that make a man a man, but the little day to day details

taking in three kids that were not my own did not make me a man.

i was a man long before then or i’d never have done it. nor would i have realized that i continue to gain far more from the relationship than i ever put into it.

i am not the perfect dad

i am not the perfect husband

i am most assuredly not the perfect man

hell sometimes i’m not even all that good at any of that.

but i go to bed each night determined to do better and i wake up each morning and apply a little elbow grease to my determination. and i think if anything makes me a man it is that

a real man is not a bully

a real man doesn’t take his sh*t out on others

a real man is not a bum

a real man doesn’t abdicate his responsibilities


a real man will f*ck up from time to time . . . but he doesn’t allow it to become a lifestyle

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2007 00:59

    Perfect . . . absolutely perfect. One of my all-time favorite posts from you, Cat Juggler.

  2. June 18, 2007 08:13

    Bravo. Thank you.

  3. June 18, 2007 10:02

    Yep, that’s a real good one. I really like it.

    Where my own husband is concerned I’d add: a real man should know when to admit he can’t map read and be willing to ask for directions – instead of stubbonly getting us lost ! LOL!

  4. damewiggy permalink
    June 18, 2007 10:04

    Great post!

    Really, really good stuff.

  5. June 18, 2007 11:06


  6. Red permalink
    June 18, 2007 13:07

    a real man will f*ck up from time to time . . . but he doesn’t allow it to become a lifestyle

    Simple. Poifect.

  7. The 2 Witches permalink
    June 18, 2007 18:37

    a perfectly wonderful post ….

    I can think of many men that have been in my life that should read it, memorize it and then tattoo a version of it somewhere so they don’t forget it…..

    of course … the list could easily read “a grownup” instead of “a man” and still be just as true

    Mama kelly

  8. June 19, 2007 00:37

    I cried while I read this. Does that say enough?

    You outdo yourself with this post (real) man.

  9. June 19, 2007 20:10

    Beautiful, Cat, simply beautiful.

    Don’t forget – real men eat quiche too lol

  10. June 19, 2007 20:51

    no ma’am

    :mrgreen: -real men MAKE quiche for the women they love (okay, we eat it, too, but i still felt the need to clarify 😉


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