Men or Chocolate

It’s 9pm on Friday night; party time? Not hardly. It means that the house is finally quiet, I’ve gotten an uninterrupted shower, and I am sitting down to a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Is it sitting on my pregnant tummy, you ask? I’m not going to dignify that with a response. The sweet taste of chocolate reminds me of something I read yesterday.

“I see those bumper stickers that say, “Who needs men when there’s chocolate?” Well, I’ve never seen a Kit-kat fix a hole in the drywall!”

While chocolate does have a FEW advantages over our male counterparts from time to time, I have to agree that men are vastly more valuable. Hear me out, Ladies.

As a woman whose husband packed his gear, went ‘away on overseas business’ and left me with a toddler and a waddle, I know the importance of a chocolate stash and a good set of tools. While Tammy Wynette was right that it IS hard to be a woman, I must say that I’m tired of hearing men slandered, under- appreciated, and treated as unneeded. Women may be expected to work full time, put Martha Stewart’s home to shame and raise kids with the strictness of Super Nanny all at once but fathers don’t have it that easy either.  Please, name one cartoon or sitcom father who is a hard-working, devoted father/husband who isn’t the butt of jokes or constantly looking less competent than his wife. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

How discouraging! Just as we women roll our eyes at television shows and think, “Army wives/Atlanta housewives/couponers/etc. aren’t really like that at all!” it’s equally hard to find men represented as humble but strong leaders who are devoted to their work and families.  Greater society shows all sorts of absentee, abusive, money-hungry, and weak fathers. Clearly there are societal issues that need to be addressed, but I’d like to take a moment to hail the men who are working hard and doing it right- the kind of men I hope my sons will be.

These men get up early, work beyond 9-5 to provide for the family, get home for family dinners or activities, help with homework, do occasional home repairs, try to maintain friendships, exercise, and provide leadership and love for the home. Much like the women, they have constant demands on them no matter where they go. It’s easy to get annoyed when they collapse onto the couch, don’t help with the dishes, or go into a coma when we ladies talk about the day while a game is on.  Still, I feel that it’s time we girls say a collective “thank you” to the men- the real, tough, grunting, make-us-crazy men.

Thank you for going to difficult jobs and providing for your families despite difficult circumstances or continuing to search for work when you’d rather give up. Thank you for then busting your rears to get home for family dinners, soccer games, and recitals. Thank you for taking Saturdays to fix leaky faucets and teaching the kids how to do it too. Thank you for trading in sports cars for family cars. Thank you for giving up time practicing golf swings to coach t-ball and risk the hazards of 4 year old swings!

Thank you, men who have broken their bodies with work on battlefields, farm fields, construction sites, and mountains. Thank you for driving out of the way in the rain to change tires, gather up the escapee cattle, and getting that rusty weed-eater to work.  Thank you for picking up the slack when other men are deployed- for playing catch with our sons, mowing our lawns, and scaring off neighborhood prankster teenagers in the night.  Thank you, men who choose to instill wisdom into young minds and model responsibility to younger generations.

Thank you, men who take their daughters, grand-daughters, and nieces out on dates to set the standard for young men to meet. Thank you for loving your wives and working for marriages; it models true partnership for children rather than letting them use sappy movies as an unrealistic standard.

Thank you, men who put the toilet seat down in the middle of the night so your pregnant wives don’t fall in and get stuck. Thank you, men who model leadership and strength. THANK YOU.

Last year I was at a community league baseball game, watching my husband’s team. Some obnoxious teens were riding loud dirt-bikes around the rocky area behind the bleachers, where small kids were playing. They continued after repeated warnings to leave and finally, one mother turned into a grizzly. A young man got off his bike, got into her face, cussed her out, and begged her to hit him so that she would ‘go to jail for hitting a kid who was only 17’ (and clearly intoxicated). By this time, mothers were gathering their chicks under-wing and I was trying to get the attention of the umpire who was watching a very nicely executed double-play. As this middle-aged mother was backing up in response to this very tall teen’s verbal onslaught, we ladies were at a big of a loss. A public fight with teens would have serious ramifications, particularly for the soldiers.

Suddenly, a flash of a tall man in a baseball uniform came running around the dugout. In Olympic hurdle racer fashion, he launched and flew several feet, extending his arm into a right hook. The sound of the connection was prettier than the crack of a bat hitting a home run. The boy was knocked flying backward, crashing over his dirt-bike. As blood came from the teen’s nose, he made it obvious that he literally didn’t know who hit him. It was clear to the rest of us- it was the imposing figure of a man who was defending his wife and son, who had now vanished. Despite the other possible options for handling the situation, I can tell you every woman was swooning. The teen returned about 30 minutes with about 6 men with bats, chains, and a pitbull, geared up for a fight at the bleachers. It was fairly laughable. At this point both teams of men (soldiers and firemen) came off the field and formed a line in front of their women and children. Suddenly, the teens had a change of heart. I went home feeling a bit giggly that night. I know my man fights for all of us but watching him physically gear up to protect me and our new baby, if necessary, demonstrated a raw manliness that was irresistible. We ladies would have fought to the death for our kids but it’s something entirely different to have your man fight for you.

Women certainly can accomplish great things without men; I live in a world where large groups of men are absent for 6-12 months of the year EVERY year. As capable as we girls can be, there is a sweet relief in knowing that a man will soon be back in the home.

Men, thank you for being MEN. It may seem that we want a sensitive poet vampire/werewolf superhero with teen angst to whisk us away, but please don’t be duped. As frustrated as we ladies may get with you and as ungrateful as society may seem, you are needed and appreciated. To the gentle giants who stand tall for us, fight for us, and listen to us, thank you. We need you more than you know- almost as much as chocolate.

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