Brothers

“Brothers” was the word — from one of my good friends upon learning our babies’ sexes — that finally got me to feel the emotional impact of the news.

Not two boys, but brothers.

Ironically, it also was the word the doctor used when he slipped. “Brothers.”

We didn’t feel it then, though. Jimmy was still attached to having it be the way he wanted it: a surprise. I was still attached to that too, not wanting him to be let down. In the end, his attachment to the surprise was probably a little stubborn — it’s the Aries in him — but yesterday as we organized all the little clothes people had given us, it was clear he had let it go.

As for me, I am over the loss of the “surprise,” but still swinging between excitement and fear.

On the one hand, I can’t wait to see their special relationship develop. It’s different when your sibling is the same sex. I know the sister side of that; I’m excited to both watch and nurture what it means to be brothers.

I also feel we’ve been given an important responsibility, raising two men — and I think we’re uniquely up for that challenge. Jimmy’s breed of masculinity, while assertive and strong, has a powerful undercurrent of empathy and humility. I’ve always seen him as a leader of men. As for me, I’m not quite sure what it will look like or what qualities of mine will come up the forefront–obviously instilling respect for women is important to me–but beyond that, I couldn’t say. Still, something about it feels right.

Even so, as I confessed to my buddies last night, I have a fair amount of fear about it. I know nothing of little boys. I didn’t have a brother and I otherwise just haven’t been around them much–I’m not at all sure what to expect, and after already feeling really inexperienced with babies in general, knowing my babies are boys only amplifies those insecurities.

At the root of it too is that I’m pretty sexist toward men. Think of a really sexist man — Trump, maybe? — then flip it around, and that’s me. And by that I mean that I have a hard time having empathy for the male experience and having faith in men in general (to do anything). For most of my life I didn’t think men had feelings–my father certainly never showed any (and still doesn’t). I also have never thought of men as particularly strong, maybe because my father’s reaction to anything emotionally challenging was to run away. It’s amazing I’ve had long, intimate relationships with men considering how powerful some of these beliefs are. I have never been able to see myself in a man–except for maybe during the Choice Line exercise in Basic. Otherwise, historically, I’ve thought of them as foreign (and morally inferior) creatures who are slaves to their egos (and sex drives).

What about Jimmy, you might ask. Well, he’s “different.” (That’s how I have it.) He would have had to have been, in order for me to “pick” him. The rest of you? You’re all the same. Including my father, but he doesn’t help his case by consistently (half) joking about how “society went downhill when women got the vote.”

As I mentioned to my buddies, this is probably why it’s perfect that I’ve been given two boys. I can’t not have empathy for them–they’re my babies. And now I will become intimately familiar with all of the challenges boys uniquely face over the course of their lives. I’m sure every single belief I have about boys and men will end up getting rattled.

The challenge will be that I will probably have my boys as “different,” too. Dangerous, because how will I react if and when they do something “all men” do? Like when Jimmy makes a “man” comment sometimes, or does a “man” thing, and I react with hurt, shock and anger (he’s supposed to be different). (This is a little off-topic, but my personal catch 22 with men is I have a fetish for traditionally masculine men–that means I am attracted to men who show up in the traditional gender role of “man” while also holding it against them.)

I know all of this is getting ahead of myself. I need to just get through the labor and delivery and learning how to care for two newborns and not trouble myself so much with thinking ahead to how we will raise them.

But in some ways, I can’t help it. Now that I know the sexes, that’s what’s been coming up–excitement, fear, curiosity.

And writers’ block. What do I say to two future men? Emily encouraged me to not get stuck on thinking the message has to be different, just because they’re boys–but then she had a good point that if I do end up making it different, maybe I will start to understand what it means to me a little more.

Either way, it seems the key is to push through the block–write anyway, see what comes up. So that’s my plan for the week.

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6 thoughts on “Brothers

  1. Well you kind of got experience of handling boy by babysitting SZ and I during our LP.. You kept us in line and you were quite patient but yet held us to our highest when needed. Two of my closest friends growing up were identical twin boys.. They also had an older brother and their father was a very good successful coach. He actually coached girls softball and my sister believes that he was her best coach (now that I think about it.. he has some of Jimmy’s characteristics — just not as transformed in expressing his feeling).. I was like their poor mother as they were all very much masculine — played sports, and did what boys and young men do. My experience of her was very patient and sweet and I felt she was more feminine. They all turned out to be gentlemen! Anyway, I think that you will do much better than you are giving yourself credit for. Yes boys will be boys but you know how to handle them better than you think.. Hey you handled SZ and me…

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  2. This reminds me of when I was in LP and Gloria Shared a major breakthrough that she had. She shared she was just getting back in the dating game and she complained that she was meeting all these creepy, weird guys. And someone asked her, what do you feel about men? And Gloria replied that men are weird and creepy. And the person said, well then it makes sense that you are meeting weird and creepy men. Gloria thought about the type of men that she wanted to meet, had a massive breakthrough and started meeting great men. Kyla, you fascinate me, and I can read you all day. You are such a smart and nuanced thinker, which is why I find it so interesting that sometimes you get so binary in your thinking and are willing to reduce whole sets of human beings into two dimensional characters. I was thinking this when I read ur post some weeks back about finding mentor/teachers to follow. I just kept thinking why is Kyla fixating on following someone- she is so not a follower. Why can’t she just learn what she can and not put all of this energy on finding a perfect mentor that she respects so that she can potentially “follow”? And maybe it’s connected and maybe it’s not, but I am sure u have had to protect yourself fiercely to succeed in ur chosen field and life in general, and it’s worked, but there is a price. And Yes, men can often be underwhelming, but men can also be awesome (and not just ur men). Jimmy is awesome, your boys will be awesome, you are awesome – and I love that you are having twin boys, you will experience such joy and growth, and these future men are so lucky to have u as mom.

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  3. I hear you, but these views on men are not rational because they come from beliefs and beliefs are not rational–they’re the result of childhood events that cause hard wiring in the brain. I am able to use the work to stop myself from giving in or from dismissing men as being like “all the rest,” but it’s a conscious effort on my part (still). My automatic still says you’re all Trumps (lol). I don’t quite remember the “follower” post, I think it was about me being unwilling to accept feedback from certain people and wishing I could change that because I know I discount a lot of valuable input. Men are definitely among those from whom I dismiss feedback because I basically shut off my listening when men speak (again, an automatic, if I’m paying attention I do try to avoid doing this). But look, the Universe seems determined to support me in finding a way to get past these beliefs for good because I keep finding myself around men — my firm, even the band, my profession as a litigator (lawyers are more 50/50 but litigators are mainly men), most of my mentors in that profession have been men, my closest companion is a man, and now I will be in a household of men. And as Scott pointed out in his comment, my two buddies in LP were men. So it’s a process that’s been unfolding and will continue to unfold until I finally get there. Maybe I can even empathize with Trump a little; ingrained sexist beliefs are hard to conquer (joking).

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    1. Right, I hear. Although not articulated well, I believe that was Gloria’s breakthrough- that she had certain beliefs about men, examined those beliefs and recognized they didn’t support her, and she changed those beliefs and experienced the benefits. It sounds like you are aware of your beliefs and the prices you pay and are content with waiting for the world to alter said beliefs. The thought of seeing all Men as Trumps is terrifying to me, I can barely tolerate one…

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  4. Not true re “content with waiting for the world to alter” those beliefs. In order to get married again, I had to face them head on, and I did, in Basic primarily (after which my dating life vastly improved). I faced them head on (by choice) again in LP when Jimmy pursued me. He was out of my age range and he broke the rules, violating his role as coach and coordinator — many times I was at a choice point of whether to walk away, and would have felt justified in doing so (no one would have questioned that choice). I didn’t; I wanted a different life and I decided to take on seeing things and him differently in a situation that was quite hard for me to swallow. There was a LOT we had to work through and it was not pleasant or pretty, we didn’t sail straight into being in love and all was blissful. In the end I did the work instead of quitting and staying single because I was not content with the “price” of never marrying again (unfortunately for me I’m straight… haha… ha… ha?). All I meant to convey in this post was that I’m aware these beliefs are still there, I still fall into them all the time, and that creates some fear for me around being a mother to two sons.

    Now having said that, there IS truth for me in the way you characterized it — “waiting for the world to alter those beliefs” — because if I didn’t “have to,” I probably wouldn’t make any effort to understand men better. I feel I “have to” because I want certain things — a man to marry, being a good wife, and now being a good mother to two sons. The importance of those relationships have caused and will cause me to do the work, but I wouldn’t do it, to say, form a better relationship with my male coworkers or have more male friends or not get pissed off at my dad as often as I do (but come on, he deserves it — “society went downhill when women got the vote”). So what is ringing true for me in what you said is that I do not typically see value in male relationships in general unless “forced” to take a harder look, and it’s probably worthwhile to think about what prices I pay for that.

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