What makes a man?

What makes a man? Lately, I’ve read a number of rants on social media about how men are becoming weak, babied by their moms. Statements about what makes a man read like something out of the Stone Age or the Wild West. And of course moms are to blame. Men should be stronger, vigilant, protective and militant.

Today, visiting my in-laws in the dementia wing, watching my husband and his brother and their cousin interact with mom, dad and their aunt, I was reminded of what truly makes a man. Tender touches. Hugs. Gentle kisses and reassurances.

Accepting the perversities of age, dementia and the eventual return to infancy with love and kindness, this is what makes a man. Being present when present is the last place you want to be, being a steadfast supporter even when understanding is gone. Shaving your mom’s chin because you know it’s important to her, loving your parents for all of their faults, accepting with grace the wrath that they spew. These are what make a man.

It’s kindness that furthers the prospects of man. And it’s love and selflessness that make the man.

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