Raising a son in an age of #AllMenAreTrash
Last night, I said good night to a little three year old and today, I woke up as the mother of a four year old boy.
A boy who is open and eager to learn about the world. A strong willed child who asks and listens to the details of everything. Who learns and absorbs and takes everything in and feeds it back to me when I least expect it. Like on the bus, loudly. He soaks up everything.
I am so thankful to be his mother. I am thankful for all the parts of being his mother. The good parts, the fun, the laughter and also the parts that are harder. When he’s sick, I’m thankful that I get to be here for him. I almost missed out on all these moments. When he’s grumpy, I’m thankful I get to be his source of comfort. When he’s tired, we cuddle and read and talk. I am thankful for every minute.
As his mother, I am also aware of the dangers of the world ahead of him. The risks, the harm, the hurt, the heartache that is coming his way.
We live in a world that is beautiful but that same world is also filled with darkness and somehow, as his mother, I have to juggle raising him in a world that I so often I don’t understand.
While I celebrate my sons birthday, another mother, somewhere, many in South Africa are grieving the loss of their own children. A world so full of violence and hurt. A world so full of anger and hatred.
My heart breaks for these mothers.
Mothers who sent their child to school, to university, to the post office perhaps, not knowing that today, would be the last day that their child breathes. Because a man, some mother’s son, got to decide that today would be her last living day. Some man decided that her life was worth less than the minute of whatever pleasure he felt he deserved. He felt she should die for.
I look at my son and I know that I have to do everything I can to raise him with integrity, with awareness, with kindness. When people say “he’s going to be a heartbreaker” I cringe because I hope I will raise him better that to be ruthless with other people’s hearts.
I hope I raise him to do better than cat calls, than disrespect, than vile misogninistic words out of his mouth. I hope I raise him better than that.
I am not blaming mother’s for the sins of their sons but I am taking responsibility for my role as a mother, to teach him to treat all people with dignity and respect.
In a world where we, as women, have no choice but to mistrust ALL men because SOME men are trash, I get it. I get that we have to believe all men will hurt us because while we know not ALL men will, we know that one man might and we don’t know who that one will be. So instead, we keep our keys in our hands as we run to our cars in shoes with no heels while looking over our shoulder and clutching at our pepper spray. We know that not ALL men are trash but we don’t know which men aren’t trash and so we trust none. Because self preservation is all we can do. It’s all we can do to protect ourselves in a time when women are dying.
We don’t know which ones are trash so we HAVE TO ASSUME THEY ALL ARE! We have NO other way of protecting ourselves.
I hope I raise my son to not only not join in but also to speak up when his friends are saying inappropriate things. I hope I raise my son to be one of the good ones. I hope I raise him to understand what women go through on a daily basis enough to accept that we don’t hate men, it’s not about all the good men, it’s about the one that isn’t. I hope he understands.
I hope most of all, that we can change the world into a place where we don’t “need” hashtags like #ALLMENARETRASH, #METOO and #AMINEXT and instead, we see change. We see men taking responsibility, standing up and saying no, that’s not okay.
I long for a future where the government doesn’t blame violence on women. Instead, the president stands up and shows us a way forward. Where actions mean more than thoughts and prayers.
I am tired of watching helplessly but I don’t know how to change the world.
All can do, is my best to raise a good man.
“Was it really my fault?” asked the short skirt?
“No, it happened to me too” said the burka
The diaper in the corner couldn’t even speakDarshan Mondkar