And then there are the posts telling me what else I should be doing, the lists: 46 Things Moms Should Be Awesome At, 38 Things Cool Moms Do, 18 Things A Mom Should Do to Avoid Being the Absolute Worst Parent Ever. I try to give these posts an honest try, after all, I like a good list, but instead I find myself wanting to shove these lists down someone’s throat because I don’t want to hear about the things I’m not doing but should be doing. I’m exhausted, remember?
The most recent to-do list I’m ruminating on is 15 Things a Mom Should Teach Her Son. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with many of the items on the list (Teach him that the job of a stay-at-home mom is equally as hard as yours OR that a dutch oven is never funny. EVER.) but as I stare at the ceiling, I think I shouldn’t be teaching this to my son. In the days of hunters and gatherers, boys went out with their fathers and learned about what it meant to be a man. Boys developed into men by watching the kind of men their fathers were (or uncles or family friends in the absence of a father). Boys didn’t learn about those things from their moms because can I, a woman, really teach my boy child, how to be man. And would he really want to learn about a dutch oven from his mom? Doubtful. He’s better off learning that from dad, a real man, the man I hope my son will become.
So with the help of Husband, I made my own list:
1. Nothing is more “manly” than a man that takes care of his family. Nothing. Period. Not what you buy, not what you wear, not what you drive, not where you go. Taking care of others is hot. Your wife will think so and so will every other woman out there (but don’t go talking to those women).
Be a good husband and a good father and you needn’t worry about how else to be a man. It’s already done.
4. Choose your friends wisely. Friends are like tequila: either they’ll turn out to be a lot of fun or they’ll land you in a Mexican prison. So unless you want to end up peeing in a hole in a cement cell, choose wisely.
7. Put some thought into your first date. You don’t have to spend a lot of money but effort goes a long way in love, way further than dollars.
9. Lying isn’t always bad. Don’t lie to me or your mother but if you’re sparing someone’s feelings, lies aren’t always the worst thing you could do.
11. The world is much more interesting if you believe in things that cannot be proven: love, God, Santa. Some things just require a leap of faith.
13. Lose with grace. And while your at it, win with grace too. Sore winners and sore losers both have their own nasty stench.
15. Don’t make big head decisions with your little head. There is no worse decision you could make and no decision that will haunt you longer.
16. First impressions matter. A lot. So if you wouldn’t want to meet the future love of your life or your future boss, or your future father-in-law looking like that, change.
17. But, make sure you fall in love with someone who doesn’t care what you look like. I know. I just said to care what you look like and now I’m telling you to find someone who doesn’t care. Here’s the thing: it’s about you. YOU need to care what you look like, not her. The same goes for your apartment, your car, and the toilet seat. It’s about the pride you take in yourself.
18. Don’t stand there. Do something. Be the kind of man who helps instead of stands idly by doing nothing. That’s the worst. Does your buddy need help with something? Help. Is someone getting bullied? Step in. Does someone need a lift somewhere? Offer them a ride. Be the kind of man that shows up, that people can count on.
20. Don’t use the phrase, “like a girl.” That phrase is lame. So are people that use it to mean something inferior. And I promise you this – if you say this in front of your mother (or your sister) they’re going to slap you “like a girl” and it will hurt. Because girls are strong.
21. And know that the saying “be a man” is just as stupid. You know who’s a man? Me. Your dad. You know why? Because I know that “being a man” can be defined by lots of things by lots of people but the only definition that matters is your own. Be what you want.
22. Chivalry is not dead. Court her. Bring flowers. Or coffee. Write her a letter. Opening doors is always a good move. Share your umbrella. Give her your coat if she’s cold. Walk her to her door. Compliment (see #14) Ask her to dance. Know how to dance. Pull out her chair. Offer her your seat. Call – especially if you said you would.
24. Don’t be in a rush to get older. You will be an adult for far longer in life than you will be a kid. Enjoy the wonder. The only things waiting for you in adulthood are bills, payments, and to-do lists. I’d rather be playing tag.
25. The world is full of fools. Don’t be one. Ask lots of questions and don’t stop asking. Question everything. Don’t just accept what other people tell you. Learn something from everyone but not everything from someone. Accept other views but make your own.
26. Winning matters on scoreboards and record books but ask Derek Jeter if that’s what he was thinking about when he was making his farewell speech after 20 seasons. Sure winning is great but playing hard, playing your best is everything. Give 100% and I promise you’ll never regret it.
27. Nice guys don’t finish last. Being kind and compassionate actually takes a good bit of strength. Learn to be that kind of strong. You don’t need to be hard and ruthless in order to get ahead. You’ll hear that kindness is weakness. You’ll hear that nice guys finish last. It isn’t true. Ask your mother if this nice guy finished last.
29. Aim high: in life and in love. Have high expectations. Don’t settle.
30. And finally… your mother is always right. Accept it. Don’t fight it. Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s a losing battle.