Men Who Nurture (and the women who love them)

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November 29, 2010 by David Gillaspie

True confession:  You like to nurture.  Admit it.  You’ve had to learn, and you like it.

Some say a nurturer is born that way; others say it’s a result of a caring environment.  You say the sooner you choose one or the other, the better. 

That doesn’t mean you wear a rat-tail down your back, gain fifty pounds and wear loose natural fabrics with gentle draw strings, or thick socks with your sandals. 

But you could.

Nurturing doesn’t mean shopping for free-range, organic broccoli at the local farmers market while you hum the hits from the latest Lilith Fair, though Sarah McLachlan joins Johnny Cash was the only two singers who make you feel emotions deeper than you usually go on a daily basis.

If you listen to Long Black Veil, or Angel with a dry eye, you need to see a doctor for your dehydration.

Nurturing is different from nutria.  One is about caring; the other is a large, yellow-toothed, rodent. 

You can try and nurture a nutria, but you’d be the first.

Nurturing is about finding someone you know having a down day and helping them out.  Instead of seeing a chance to take advantage of, you see a wounded heart that needs a cushion at the bottom of the fall. 

Instead of weakness, you see their strength in being open; you see a willingness to share, not a whiner looking for someone to carry their bags.

Children need nurturing most.  They are the moral weight.  

If you wonder why your money vote each election determines school funding first, it’s because no one but the hardest hearted leaves the kids out in the cold.  For the sake of the children, you hear, vote to approve the school bond measures. 

And you do.

Hearing the words ‘No Child Left Behind’ makes you look around to make sure no child falls through the gaps.  Hearing ‘No Billionaire Left Behind’ doesn’t carry the same weight, though they probably could use some nurturing too. 

A nurturing man, one who has earned their nurturing merit badge, save their best for those most in need. 

For new parents: do you nurture your own kids through each stage of development, or are they on the clock where you wait until they can relate to you in a way you find more meaningful than changing diapers? 

Try this: if they kick, they’re kicking for you.  When they roll over for the first time, their rolling for you.  When they pop up on their hands and knees rocking back and forth before they crawl for the first time, it’s for you.  The same goes for their first solid food, first steps, and their first real play-date.

They are your kids and they do it all for you, so pay attention.

Some start nurturing and kick it into overdrive right away.  If it’s a friend you’ve known, and their nurturing surprises you, there’s a reason. 

When a parent takes time for themselves, it’s called recharging batteries, or re-energizing. 

It’s also called night-time.

When a parent talks about guilt and remorse and refuses any help with their kids while they wear down, their clock is running.  It’s only a matter of time before you hear them say, “When is it my time?”

Memo to Moms and Dads: that stroller has already left the nursery.  Your time is where you make it.  Unless you have the means for nannies and tutors and a support staff; unless your name is Angelina, or JLo, or Mel Gibson; unless you farm your kids out to boarding school so you can present your child as finished product, your time is their time.

The idea of nurturing takes a beating with parents who aren’t very good at it.  When the weakest elements of your personality, the ones that make you consider therapy a necessary evil, seem to show up in your kids, you turn away. 

That’s not what you signed up for.

Nurturing means working through your faults, not seeing some behavior that makes you think you’ve passed on your most defective genes.  Once you get a grip on yourself, you can guide baby to the promised land.

There is no consultant, family specialist, or past-life-regression-hypnotist who understands how your kids remind you of your Grandparents in a good way.  We all have that roiling water beneath the calm surface.  It’s up to you to help your kids figure it out and not fear it.

Good Will Hunting found his nurturing only after he learned to trust.  Ask yourself this: do you trust your kids?  Can they trust you?  If you are the mom and dad who say yes, keep it up. 

If you question trust, be more honest and you’ll find the right answer.

In the meantime, let Sarah explain while you find your handkerchief:

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
There’s always one reason
To feel not good enough
And its hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
I’ll find some peace tonight


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