XXV

I’m sitting on the couch watching the rain pour down outside, with Say Yes To The Dress Canada in the background, when I can hear it over the whine of power tools.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in my wedding dress, taking photos with my bridesmaids in the sunshine and preparing to get married.

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It couldn’t be more different from today.

I’m on vacation this week. The Big Guy is at work. He’s going to take off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This has raised some eyebrows. At first, I was disappointed, but I look at it this way; like my wedding day, my 25th wedding anniversary is one. day. In the 9,131 days we’ve been married, there have been many amazing days. Some of them were better than our wedding day. I’m not hinging my happiness of more than 9,000 days on the contents of one.

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Which leads me back to my wedding day, and the young women on Say Yes To The Dress Canada. So much energy, emotion, drama, MONEY for one day. You hear it in what they are saying and how they act. The dress has to be PERFECT. The day has to be PERFECT. Everyone has to love the PERFECT bride.

<PAUSE> May I take moment to share my thoughts about the unending focus on the bride. Yup, she gets the fancier outfit, but she’s only one-half of the equation. If the groom doesn’t show up, this is nothing but a Prom For One. And yes, I’m basing this on a heterosexual relationship because that happens to be what I’m in – and what they seem to cater to on SYTTDC. <PLAY>

So let’s say the day is PERFECT. The weather cooperates, the guests arrive on time, the venue is stunning, none of the key players are a) inebriated b) quarrelling. The bride is stunning and the dresses, flowers, and elementary school bridal attendants are Instragram worthy. The service is the ideal ratio of reverent, emotional, traditional, modern and contains no less than three Facebook worthy posts. The food is scrumptious, the music is perfectly selected and the party never seems to end.

Until it ends.

And you wake up six months later with the person you vowed to love until the end of days. There are no more bridal showers with amazing and unnecessary items to replace the “old” household items that have served you perfectly well while you lived together. No more two-day bachelor/ette parties in remote locations. No more spotlight. Just life.

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The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

Because life is why you side up for, both in content and in term. Yes to the awesome days when you both are in a great mood. Yes to the days when you want to throw in the towel on life. Yes to an empty bank account and Yes to a surprise dinner out when one of you gets a raise. Yes to not talking for three days because you are so busy you don’t realize it’s  almost the weekend. Yes to your own form of shorthand when you talk, text, or need to relay info telekinetically in the middle of a disastrous family gathering.

TBG is the first guy I dated. I said yes the first time he asked me to marry him. There has not been anyone else I’d rather hand 25 years over to. I understand when he doesn’t communicate so well. He tolerates when I over-communicate. He is a perfectionist – I am not. We work. And we work well together. A quarter of a century and two kids later, I think we’ve proved that.

Happy 25th Anniversary Big Guy. Here’s to 25 more!

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The Big Guy’s first selfie. After all, his arms are longer than mine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Boys and Men

What a bunch...

What a bunch…

I am surrounded by Testosterone. Even the dogs are both male.

As one of two daughters, it was extremely enlightening for me to become a mother of two sons. Once the initial shock wore off, I vowed to be the most enlightened and supportive mother I could be. But the male/female dynamic continues to intrigue me.

Take, for example, the roles The Big Guy and I have. We aren’t exactly “traditional” in all aspects of our relationship. He has been very supportive of me showing our sons the range of abilities woman have and how there is no difference when it comes how to treat people, what to expect from people and what people can expect of themselves. Not “men” vs “women”.

However, I have noticed a bit of a disturbing trend. Studies (I don’t have to link them – Google has MILLIONS of links – see you in 50 years) that bring to light a change in the roles we play and why. Women (girls) have been encouraged to go out and be “more”, do “more”, have “more”. That there is no limit to what they can do, and thanks to the Women’s Movement, we have the ability to do everything a man can do.

Hallelujah!

But what about our boys? What support have we given them in the evolving world of relationships and dynamics?

<PAUSE>

Now some of what I’m going to say is going to SOUND like I’m anti-female. For the record, I’m not, and since I kinda am  A GIRL, I think I get to say this without any judgement, but perhaps with a little perspective. Follow through before freaking out, ok?

<PLAY>

Today, girls are having, on average, 75 sexual partners throughout their highschool careers. Consequently, this means the boys are in the same camp – but follow along. This is a huge increase from 10 years ago, and unheard of a generation ago. The difference today is that girls feel more in control of their sexuality, and while we could debate the reasoning behind WHY a young person is so sexually active at such a young age, I really don’t have time for a Thesis today – got laundry to do.

The trend is not that males are necessarily pursuing females, it’s that females are initiating these encounters on an increasing scale. Traditionally males were the pursuers, now females are the ones reaching out.

This is at the same time where females are entering post secondary education and subsequently the workforce in larger numbers than ever (although we still have to figure out how to make as much as man for the same work, right ladies??) and some would point to selective hiring for minorities as to why that is happening. I like to think it’s because the job is going to the most qualified person – after all, isn’t that what our mothers/grandmothers fought for? Equality? Women are becoming more successful in their careers and pushing of relationships, marriage and family longer and longer.

What are our guys doing?

There are TV franchises built around the premise of the son come back home to nest when he should be soaring because he’s not out making it in the world – because it’s become common within our society.

Women are being challenged to be all they can be. Conquer the World!

Men are the punchline on Wednesday nights.

Think I’m looking too Big Picture?

There was a phone call at our house the other day.

“Is Second Born Son there?” asked the young female voice.

“No, I’m sorry, may I take a message?” I asked.

(flurry of giggles from multiple mouths) “Nope.”

Dead air and the click of phone disconnecting.

I advised SBS that he had a message from an unknown source. He wasn’t impressed. If you remember, this has happened to him before, albeit a little more aggressively.

We returned from a week-long vacation to be greeted by another young girl (we’re talking Grade 4 here people) first asking SBS to call her, then demanding that he call her, and finally berating him for NOT calling her, over the course of four or five messages. BTW – she never left her number.

This time, as in the time previous, SBS was HORRIFIED. A girl had CALLED HIM!? What’s up with THAT? (Remember here that as a household with less than traditional roles, we have not stipulated that ONLY BOYS CALL GIRLS.) He immediately sourced out the “offending” caller at school and reported to me the following day. We talked at length about why it bothered him that she (and apparently an entire room full of friends on a sleep over) decided to ring him up.

What I learned was that he felt he should be the one calling the girl. Now, society has that stereotype out there, but I could also see how this was ingrained in him. It bothered him, beyond what other people thought. This is a kid who was not overly concerned about being popular, and more about being true to himself.

He didn’t know how to be himself if someone else was taking on a role he thought was his.

And that, my friends, is when the light bulb went on for me.

If we are going to empower girls to go higher, faster, farther, then we better be prepared to equally support our boys to understand how to navigate these changes and empower them as well. SBS and I talked about how he may not be comfortable with a girl calling him, but maybe she has the confidence to pick up the phone first. After all, I would think most men would agree, calling a woman for the first time can be an unnerving experience. Less feeling threatened, more feeling flattered. When he’s old enough, we can work through how he can feel better about his role in a relationship, but DEAR GAWD, HE’S ONLY IN GRADE 8!! Maybe next week?

Overall, men aren’t understanding the new dynamic in male/female relationships (let’s be honest – I don’t think they had the “old” dynamic figured out either…) and this was impacting feelings of inadequacy which in turn leaves women feeling like men are not “bringing it” to relationships.

The biggest complaint of dating women who are in the 20s-30s is that Chilvary is dead. Romance is gone from dating. BUT, how many times can a guy hear that his date is more than capable of paying her own way THANKYOUVERYMUCH, or that some “loser” held the door open for her, or heaven forbid – he brought FLOWERS , before he stops making these gestures that he thought made her feel special. You can’t bemoan the Death of Romance while you hold the smoking gun.

If I don’t need you for an income and I don’t need a relationship for sex, and I’m only considered successful if I conquer the world on my own, then really what do I need you for again? Not. Good. For either side.  As women are discovering their own worth, we need to remember the value men bring, before we have a generation of guys who don’t know how to date, never mind be romantic, supportive and empowering of their partner. It’s about give and take. Balance. Equality.

To me, Feminism isn’t the ability to trod upon a man’s sense of self-worth, it’s the ability to enjoy and explore my own. Women can be free to express, experience, succeed and fail.

And so can Men. It shouldn’t be a stigma for a male to be successful, or want to take charge, or want to take care of someone or be the one to pick up the phone first. We need to show our boys that while we are celebrating our daughters, our sons are not over looked.

I’m Going to Hell – Who’s With Me?

I saw my first stripper when I was 15.

I’ll give you a moment to grab your jaw. It’s over there, on the floor.

To clarify, the guy was an impromptu addition to a 50th Birthday Party for one of my dad’s coworkers. I was asked to provide music for the party since I had an enviable collection of music, and let’s face it, the BEST person to spin tracks for a 50-year-old is a 15-year-old. Yup – that’s sarcasm. It was during that event that it was revealed that a certain “special” aspect of fete was being thrown in. Before you knew it, some oiled up muscle man was bumping and grinding his way around the birthday girl.

She loved it. I was somewhat repulsed and yet secretly thrilled that he left his thong on. After all, my parents were in the room.

So perhaps I’ve had a more liberal outlook on these topics, but I was really taken aback by a posting by a fellow blogger I happen to have read last night. Usually I enjoy her take on parenting, being a young mother and family life in general, but yesterday’s entry gave me pause. I’m not going to share a link because frankly, I don’t want to give a platform to the kind of blather she was dishing.

In short; she thinks I’m going to hell, and that my marriage is doomed.

Cuz I’m going to see Magic Mike tomorrow night.

Helloooooooo There!

Her take on this is that by watching a movie (she doesn’t name it specifically) I will open the door for Satan to pervert my mind. I won’t be able to help myself from comparing my relationship with my husband with the relationship I would wish for with one of the characters in the movie. She then stated it was part of the bigger issue facing society today, the break down of the family, blah, blah, blah.

This must be some flick! I just thought it was about a bunch of guys who made loads of cash dancing for women. What power this movie must have!!!

She then went on to throw 50 Shades of Grey under the bus. Again, not being strong enough on point to name the book, she references the pop culture following “a certain book” has, and looks down her nose at the idea of a book discussing sexuality, as being something lowly and sinful. Can you say “Repressed?”

I then thought about how I would feel if The Big Guy was going out to see strippers with his friends. Nothin. No issue. No beef. We’ve actually laughed at how NOT jealous we are of each other. Perhaps we are too secure in our relationship (is that possible?) but I’ve pointed out good-looking women to him, and he’s shared his perspective of my admiration of various specimens of various males of the species. Isn’t it a GOOD thing that we don’t get wound up about each other’s appreciation for the option sex??

The blogger then draws a comparison, saying women should not see Magic Mike or read 50 Shades of Grey because they would be up in arms if their husbands went out to a movie about female strippers or a book that glorified sex from a male’s perspective.

Instantly, the following rebuttals came to mind;

1. We’d better get every beer commercial off television.

2. Somebody better tell the music community that women dressed in anything less than habits are evil and any dancing more risqué than the box step in a rap video will get you a first-class ticket to hell.

3. Survivor, Big Brother and every other reality TV show that allows women to flaunt their T&A is responsible for the erosion of the family unit.

4. Victoria’s Secret Angels are actually the minions of Satan (envision Church Lady saying this!).

Until then, I fully plan on enjoying Magic Mike with my sister, and perhaps my niece. After all, she is 16.

P.S. I didn’t really think I had time for more reading material, but I think I might make the exception and look up 50 Shades of Grey; since I’m already going to hell in a hand basket.