Recently, a friend and I have been taking the time out to have discussions about what masculinity means for him and the way in which it has shaped his life so far in comparison to the way in which it has affected my life as a woman, and it has been enlightening. We’re developing a healthy and open way of speaking to each other about our vulnerabilities and how, after 22 years of life, we are finally unlearning the toxic thoughts, habits, and beliefs that we have been indoctrinated with. As a woman, it has been a truly refreshing experience to know and understand the male in a way that isn’t obnoxious or confrontational.
But, I must give credit where it is due, and this is to the incredible force of nature that is Justin Baldoni [twitter|instagram]. We started off by watching his TED talk ‘Why I’m done trying to be man enough’ and later moved on to watch the premiere of his new series ‘Man Enough‘, and it hit us like a ton of bricks: we can only expect others to be willing to have this conversation about the damaging impact of traditional gender roles if we ourselves are open about it. And lo and behold, here we are, talking to each other about the way masculinity and femininity have damaged us both, as well as the ways in which we hope to tackle it within our own circles.
So, this following letter is a way of both completing my future child series and consolidating my inspiration from Justin. I hope that you are able to come away from it as moved as I was while writing it.
I cannot wait until the day I can hold you in my arms and love you with every fibre in my being. You are the answer to all of my prayers and the biggest blessing I could ever had asked for. You already incredible, and I know that you are going to grow into the most beautiful human being.
Always remember this, you must be a wonderful human being before you are ‘man enough’. You are so much more than the gender you have been assigned at birth, and I will teach you daily how to understand and accept this. While it will be many years before you are able to read this, my dear son, I hope you always know that on this day, I made these 4 promises to you that I pray you will already have seen in your day-to-day life:
Firstly, I promise to teach you how to be sensitive.
It is okay to cry. It is okay to laugh. It is okay to love. It is okay to feel all the things that make us entirely vulnerable and entirely human. I will never tell you to “man up” or that “boys don’t cry” because none of these are true. Sensitivity towards yourself, as well as others, will teach you a version of the world softer than anything you could know.
Secondly, I promise to inspire you to see kindness as a blessing.
When times are tough and the days are rough, you will find that even the smallest act of kindness, whether it is towards yourself or a stranger, will tide you over until you feel the light again. A small smile, a warm hug, or even a coffee paid forward will warm the parts of your heart you didn’t think possible. We will be entirely kind to each other.
Thirdly, I promise to show you the value of mercy.
During moments when you feel your hart is hardened or as though a grave injustice is taking place, actively choose to be merciful. You will find that this choice will let you come out of these situations kinder and softer as a person. I will strive to show you daily that the more merciful you are, the more gracious the world is to you.
And lastly, I promise to teach you radical self-care.
By practicing self-care in my daily life, I will show you that the art of self-care will be your saving grace in this world. I will show you how to make a moment entirely yours and so full of love and healing. I will remind you daily to extend your knowledge of self-care and love to all those whom you love and who love you.
My love, these are the 4 promises I make to you. I will help guide your growth in every way I know how to become a human so filled with love, light, and eternal kindness. You will never have to be ‘man enough’ for anybody, and I will make sure that you alway live a life that is true to who you are as a person. You will never need to act for anybody.
With all my love,
Your darling mother, Ayesha. x