When I was about 8 years old I received my first and only barbie doll. She was beautiful, with creamy skin and short curly hair. Hours were spent styling her and I made her so many clothes and earrings. She was a very lucky doll. Then at about 10 years old I started nagging my mother for a man doll. Barbie was lonely and I figured that she should have a husband. I wanted a G.I. Joe for her. He was very masculine and had many moving parts. They would look very good together. But instead of Joe, we ended up with an $8 Ken doll. He was not very good at anything. He was too pretty, and couldn’t bend his arms or legs properly…quite a disappointment. (They ended up being part of a rock group…but that is another story.)
So often, as little girls we play with our toys, reenacting what we see in the world around us. We play house and our dolls live though all kinds of drama and excitement. Quite the little soap operas happen in the doll world. We instinctively act out what we see as “regular lives”…each family having its own little examples to copy. We know what we want, or what we think we want for when we grow up. 40 years ago, the opportunities for girls were different from what they are now, but little girls don’t change. You watch a little girl play with her toys, and quite often there are complicated relationship issues that the toys are dealing with. It’s all about the relationships. Right?
We are all about the relationships. The man we want is usually some combination of a G.I Joe and Ken. We want the mix of tough and sensitive. We want to feel safe but at the same time we want to have a best friend who gets us. We want to be desired, but get mad when they invade our space. We want him to be able to cry…but don’t really know what to do with him if he does. No wonder real men can’t understand what we want. Women are complicated. There is always some little drama that she in reenacting in her head. Some version of an internal conversation that is going on.
I have such weird expectations of the men in my life. I have a father, husband and 3 sons. I mess them all up continually. Poor guys. Most of the time it’s because I think I want something, I get it…and then don’t want it after all. It wasn’t quite what I thought I was looking for. Then there are those days when I accuse them of not understanding me…but how can they, when I don’t even understand myself?
My challenge now is to see things a little differently, and to try to behave accordingly. How easy it would be for me to just go on my merry way and keep things complicated…but does it do any good? Am I being a good example of a wife and mother, and most of all a woman, to all these men? Can’t I just learn to be someone who supports them, and let’s them be a man? A man who is just as sensitive inside as we are, but doesn’t know how to show it. A man who needs love and respect…and a great friend that he is comfortable with. A man who needs to be with other men at times, so that he can do “man things” without having someone analyzing his feelings and behavior. A man who can be either the G.I. Joe or the Ken…or a mix? Someone who is uniquely made by his creator.
What will it take to be this woman? I don’t really know yet, but I am going to try something different. Day by day, it’s not too late. It never is too late when we want to try something new. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂