I know, it sounds weird. You’re thinking “ Mom In Midlife telling men how to be who they are”?. The following sage words actually come from a speech that my husband and I gave to our son on the day we celebrated his becoming a Bar Mitzvah. These words are essentially a summary of advice we thought was important to impart to a 13 year old boy who, while very intelligent, seems to be woefully unaware that a world exists outside of his technologically blinded one.
As we approach the one year anniversary of this momentous ocassion, I thought I would revisit this speech and evaluate my son’s progress. Oh, well. Here it is anyway. Maybe some of you will have better luck!!
We thought that today would be a great day for a quick life lesson. A lesson on how to be a man. You see, just because you have become a Bar Mitzvah, and in the laws of Judaism crossing the threshold to being a man, doesn’t mean that you have any idea of what it really means to be a man. Trust us, it’s a long, long, long journey-one you are only just beginning.
So we thought we would give you a bit of a head start; a small list of suggestions that will help you on your own personal journey to becoming a man. Some are serious, some are cute. All are important. So, from us to you….
Respect your mother (you thought we would start with anything else?) Make sure you call, text, Skype, or use whatever technology is available to you at the time to always stay in touch, remind me how much I matter to you, and how much you love me. A man who respects his mother respects women.
Admit mistakes, and take responsibility. No excuses are necessary. People will respect you for that. Man up and own up.
Keep an open mind. Many people will have different opinions on life, religion, politics, and the world. Let them, and learn from them. Then, form your own opinion. But never be afraid to change your mind. A man is always allowed to change his mind.
Brown shoes, brown belt. Black shoes, black belt. White shoes…don’t even go there. Unless of course you are 85 and living in Miami Beach.
Listen. A man learns how, and knows how, to just listen. Resist the urge to always respond. Are you listening?
Keep your head up. Too many people walk through life staring at the ground. A man keeps his head up and looks around, takes it all in. Besides, when people see you looking up, they’ll look up , too and wonder “what’s that guy looking at”. Let them wonder.
Open doors for others. Not just literally, although that’s important and shows good manners. But, help others and provide them with assistance and opportunity. Always open doors and doors will be opened for you.
Karma. What goes around comes around. Give out good and good will come back to you. Believe it.
Never stop dreaming. Real men know how important it is to dream.
A good man has good table manners. Many qualified job applicants have lost opportunities because they had bad table manners at a lunch interview. Chew with your mouth closed. Enough said.
Smile. Laugh. Cry. A real man does all three.
Learn how to write a personal note or letter. With pen and paper. Its becoming a lost art. Don’t let it get lost. Texting and e-mail are great, but not the same. Nothing is more special than a note on nice stationery, written in ink. It’ll impress people.
Root for the home team. Nothing is worse than someone from Philly rooting for teams from New York, Chicago, Boston, or Dallas. A man always knows where he came from.
A man cares about the way he looks. Remember-fashion isn’t always in good taste, but good taste is always in fashion. People may not say anything, but they will notice. And once they do, you’re halfway there.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. Nothing is worse than a man who can’t laugh at himself. It will put others at ease, and show them you’re not a “you know what”. The world has too many “you know whats”. Don’t be one.
Learn how to make a meal. That doesn’t mean heating up a can of Beef-a-Roni, or pouring cereal and milk in a bowl. Know how to shop, choose food, and prepare a meal. You’ll never go hungry, and it will impress a woman.
A man makes promises. And keeps them.
Care. If nothing else, learn to care. No matter how busy you are, take time to show people you care.
Learn to balance and juggle. That doesn’t mean standing on one foot and acting like a circus performer. A man keeps things in perspective, knows what matters, and what’s important. You’re going to drop things and make mistakes. Its okay. Its how a man acts, recovers, and moves ahead that matters most. This is a hard one. Give it time.
And lastly-follow your passion. Do what you love. Whatever you do in life, do it with passion. Passion for your family, friends, career, and whatever else lies ahead. Do that, and everything else will take care of itself.