One of the most difficult things in life is teaching yourself how to be a man. Growing up, I never imagined how the absence of my father would affect my adulthood. This is not a sad cliche tale about a child growing up hating his absent father, because I don’t actually know him. I mean, I know who he is, but I don’t actually know him, ya dig?.. My feelings toward my father varies from enormous curiosity to indifference.
Raising the child by herself, the single mother becomes determined to be both a mother and a father to the child. She has the natural caring love of a mother but she must now attempt to adopt the strict, disciplined, and difficult love of a father. She tries – I imagine – she tries her hardest. Shortly she must face the fact that a woman can not teach a boy how to be a man. The masculine energy dwelling in the boy impulsively drives him to desire his own freedom, to feel and experience the world in his own way, and to be his own man (whatever that means to him). But the mother, sensing he is not prepared for the world, becomes unbearably protective; suffocating her son with her love. The more she suffocates him, the more the son desires to be free. The mother (unfortunately) sees this as a sign of rebellion and a betrayal of her love. The wise mother senses she is incapable of teacher her son “manly attributes”. She begins to believe she must find a man to assist in her son’s development before it is too late. Here lies another problem, the teacher never really chooses the student; it is the student that chooses who he wants his teacher to be. Of all my mentors, none ever came to me, wanting me to be their mentee. I humbly came to them -seeking knowledge – seeking to be a student. The problem is, the mother can not choose a father-figure for her son; her son must choose for himself. And this leads us to perhaps a more intricate problem; Due to the betrayal of his father, the boy can’t or hasn’t learned how to trust a man. The presence of another man in his mother’s life is simply a threat, a very real and alarming threat. He (the son) will most likely (most likely, but not definitely) develop an unhealthy hatred for whichever man his mother chooses; Justifying his hatred with whichever excuse he desires. This collision can cause a various of results – results that are too intricate to discuss in this little piece. One inevitable result is clear though. The boy moves out of his mother’s house and finds himself alone and unprepared for “the real world”(his mother was right). He must now teach himself how to take responsibility for his own actions, learn how to love a woman, and learn how to trust a man(among other things). This leads the boy to make very grave and costly mistakes. When it comes to the existential question “how to be a man”.. Don’t ask me.. Because I don’t fucking know.
I’m figuring it out though.
“I want to be a honest man, and a good writer” – James Baldwin