With the leaving of my daughter to prep school 4 ½ hours away, I am now outnumbered in my home. Please don’t get the wrong idea. I adore my wonderful husband and my now 16 year old son is growing up to be a fine young man. However, there are times when I feel like the odd “man” (pun fully intended) out. It wasn’t expecting it but the situation just seemed to sneak up on me, as if I awoke and the entire planet had been taken over by aliens. The problem was that I happened to love these aliens and gave birth to one of them. It started with little things…..the TV permanently fixed to the NHL network, toilet seats being left up and a lot of sports equipment being shed around the house. Then, it progressed to our meal choices moving in the direction of meat and potatoes, almost exclusively, and annoyed eyeball rolls when I suggested chicken and big salads. Finally, it’s emerged as a whole new male bonding ritual that involves a vocabulary I simply don’t understand, much less speak. These involve grunts, short hand phrases and insults (like “Sieve”) that are simply beyond my level of comprehension.
In reality, I do realize that I’m incredibly blessed. I have healthy children, and a husband that deeply loves me, despite his annoyed comments of “Why do you put green stuff on my plate ? You know I don’t like it.” I have reached the point of melting down at them, but it never works…they simply give me the look as if to say “Treat her gently…she’s likely to blow a gasket”. I have politely, and gently, requested explanations of what they’re discussing. Most of the time, I simply don’t ‘get’ their “Dummies for Hockey” (or military history, or cars, or other guy stuff) versions, which only frustrates them more. Little by little, I’m learning to adjust my own way of thinking, to appreciate the little gestures of peace they do make (such as Josh bringing me home my favorite coffee and Biscotti) and to appreciate them as completely different species of animals. I am learning to approach these interesting, frustrating, funny and confusing men I live with as Jane Goodall would approach a new family of chimpanzees: with quiet respect, sitting and observing and not stepping in before I realize what I’m talking about. I had no idea I’d end up an anthropologist in my own home. But, the approach is helping me process their moods and behaviors, as well as deepening my own understanding of testosterone. My mom once told me, “Never respond in anger, and never take anything personally”. I’m repeating that as my mantra every day. It also helped that she told me this when we were the overwhelming force in my growing up home: it was the two of us women, our three female dogs, and my poor dad with all that female energy.
The fact is, men and women do process things differently. We respond differently to the same situations and we react differently to the identical stimuli. In Yoga, I try to offer poses that will balance the “male and female” or, Yin and Yang, energy in the class. Therefore, in addition to offering the traditional male based Warrior poses, I always to counter that pose with Female Warrior, or Goddess. This seems to not only bring a sense of completeness into our class period, but also to our bodies and inner natures. I also feel much clearer when I add these wonderful poses into our practice…and into my daily life.
For now, my life may not surrounded in femininity, but I also know my own limits. If I find myself cranky or short tempered, simply because the men are being men (and not intentionally rude), I realize I can remove myself from the situation. I can take a hot bubble bath, make a nice cup of tea, or a write a blog article to channel my thoughts. I can talk to a friend, paint my toenails and slip into another room to watch “When Harry Met Sally”. In short, I can create my own girl world in Manville. It’s not always easy, but hopefully, I will be able to decipher their language before long. And, short of that, perhaps I can teach them mine.
On the one hand, we'll never experience childbirth. On the other hand, we can open all our own jars. ~Bruce Willis, on the difference between men and women