W hen I set out to attain the man’s insight on balancing life, work, family and anything else that they may tackle every day, I got a little more than I bargained for.
Is it just me, or are the socially and personally responsible men being overlooked because so much attention has been placed on men who are lacking in these areas and being an overall productive member of society? Considering that I cannot speak for everyone, I will leave the answer to that question up to Xpressers who may weigh in later.
I had the privilege of speaking with a few gentleman, and if it were not already clear that a man’s walk is just as complex as our own as women, it is now crystal clear.
It was necessary to go directly to the source for responses from productive, hard-working family men who were more than willing to answer the question about what types of balancing acts they juggle and what their experience is like.
I did, however, assign an alias to the participant’s name to protect their identity.
Let’s get into the interviews, shall we?
Malik, a husband, father, busy with a career and student paused when the question was posed:
“What does balancing acts look like in your life as a man?”
Malik: It’s difficult because everything falls on the husband/man of the house. There is a balance of work, home and anything extra (church, community, school, etc.) and as the leader, you feel more than obligated to be available in each area. I think men see things more logically than women [most of the time], we deal with issues that may arise at work but once I leave work, I go home and have to balance three different personalities, that of my wife and my two daughters. If they’ve had a rough day, I may not bring up what I experienced at work that day. Instead, I’m in a listening mode so that I can offer comfort to them about their experience. Men are often looked to for guidance so you have to be prepared to assist and at times, that’s putting your immediate needs aside.
It’s important to note that Malik, much like the other men that I spoke with, is quite traditional when it comes to taking care of his home and takes great pride in it actually. He believes that the majority of home expenses (i.e. mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc.) should be provided by him unless there is some critical circumstance requiring the assistance of his wife in those specified costs. She indeed is a contributor to their home both financially and emotionally, however, he desires to be the sole provider for his family as long as he is able to be and does it with a cheerful heart. Which brings me to “Paul,” who shares these sentiments and is the budget extraordinaire.
During my exchange with Paul, he made it plain that although much is required of his time in his career where he is often on call during hours that the city is sleeping, if he is ever faced with the decision to support his wife or daughter in anything, “the family is going to win every time.”
Paul has said that every man has their own legacy that they will leave behind when departing the earth and his will be that he was an exceptional husband, father, and provider. If he doesn’t do anything else, being his best for his family is his lifelong aspiration.
He is also an advocate for responsible spending (not cheap by far) but saving, running a small business and making sure that he and his wife’s combined finances are allocated appropriately. And can you believe that these allocations include expenses for leisure (i.e. international trips, weekend getaways, local activities they enjoy, miscellaneous shopping, etc.)?
The cool thing about it is that his wife fully trusts him with their budget. She sees the budget, yes, but she has said she feels that is his area of expertise so she is more than comfortable letting him manage it.
Horace, who owns and operates a full-time business for a living also emphasized the requirement of making provision is a priority for any decent family man:
“Balancing acts in a man’s life at times are challenging. He must be determined to be a provider at all times and allow his mate to be the home’s queen. (Loved that!) A man has to be present and make the choice on when and how to discipline or talk to your children. Being supportive of them and your spouse no matter what is essential too.”
Horace also made mention the art of knowing when to listen and knowing when to speak must be mastered at some point in addition to being vulnerable enough to say to, “I need help!”
W O W! In an age where vulnerability is sometimes classified as weak for a man, it was a melody in my ears to hear a guy mention the necessity of having comfort in being vulnerable, with the right person or people, of course.
In any discussion, it’s always important to get some input from those who are a few generations ahead of the game.
In an effort to avoid redundancy, I will say that “Isaiah” touched on everything that the previous three gentlemen spoke about – provision, parenting, emotional support, faith, etc. He’s a little more than middle aged, a husband, a father of four, shaped and molded in a stern but healthy family background, picked cotton with his grandparents when he was 5 (you read that right) and brutally honest at times. Probably qualifies to be called a “ladies’ man” back in his twenties, but thank God for Jesus because he got himself all the way together. He’s very well loved and respected by countless people and seems to know everyone.
I asked him the same question:
“What does balancing acts look like for you as a man?”
Isaiah: It can be tough, but it can be done. You know having my children in different cities because I was young and they have different mothers is tough because I was not in the home with them all every day except my youngest, and it wasn’t always possible getting each of them all together with me. It’s still not easy because now they’re grown with their own families but it’d be nice to have some time with them all at once.
As I listened to Isaiah, I could hear disappointment, maybe even some sadness, but most notably, I heard his truth. I also wondered if his children ever knew that he’s been carrying that hurt or longing with him for years. Even though he saw them often and provided pretty decently for each of them, he longed for the quality time that is more likely to occur in a traditional family setting.
Sidebar Note: Don’t be trying to judge because some men have children that they don’t even try to see or provide for who live in the same zip code!
We continued our conversation:
Auketria: Well, what other areas can you speak to about the challenges of being a man?
Isaiah: The differences in the workplace for black men specifically. Not to say that some brothers aren’t doing exceptionally well, because many are. I had a pretty good career but you could see the difference mainly in our pay compared to non-black men. Shoot, I have friends who had decades of experience in their field of work but unfortunately no degree, so younger white men with no experience would come into the company with a degree and be making six figures to a black man’s five.
Sidebar Note: I have had to pull information in the past and can say that there are pay inequalities among men of different nationalities with the same education also. I just needed to add this before someone comments something such as, “get a degree!” There are still inequalities, boo!
Auketria: I know it’s true because I’ve witnessed it myself. I won’t get into women’s unequal pay, that’s an entirely different blog…lol! But, continue Isaiah, speak freely if you want.
Isaiah: It’s a huge responsibility being a man but I wouldn’t change it. If being a morally upstanding hard working man is not celebrated enough, it’s probably because too many knuckleheads aren’t doing what they’re supposed to (we both laugh hysterically). It’s true though, and it’s okay to be thanked and appreciated for being a good provider, loving, available and everything else, but really this is what we are supposed to be doing you know?
At that moment, Isaiah had me rethinking this entire blog because he is right. This is what they are supposed to be doing. But on the other hand, it is okay to celebrate them publicly from time to time. Isaiah added that at times, holding down the many responsibilities can seem overwhelming but he also believes that he can express that freely without being judged by his wife or children. Retired from corporate America, Isaiah noted that having respect from his woman and children makes the journey worthwhile.
A very peculiar individual who talked about enjoying being a provider, feeling privileged to be able to share a shift caring for his grandmother during her ladder years noting that she was his mama just like his biological mama. And the one thing as a man that he doesn’t like, is any time that he had to tell his children, “no” if resources were minimal.
Before posing the question to any of these gentlemen, I tallied up my own expectations of a man on any regular day.
Like the majority of women I know, I expect a man to be self-sufficient, a provider, resourceful, handy around the house, a protector, spiritual, a good parent and have the ability to make a way out of no way essentially (tough, I know, but I have to do this too). What’s interesting is that there are a wealthy number of men who encompass everything listed in the expectation log and some. What I find is that understanding to some degree, the complexities of manhood and womanhood should cultivate parameters of respect from both to one another.
Hats off to every proactively responsible guy reading this while checking off their list of responsibilities in their head silently adding to what the gentlemen here have shared.
This is a no judgement zone about your experiences, so if you’d like to add any, we welcome them!
Fellas, if you need some financial guidance and know-how’s, I strongly suggest you read, Real Money Answers for Men, by America’s Money Maven and best-selling author, Patrice Washington.
Until next time Xpressers, XoXo!