What Does It Mean To Be A Good Man? This is the essential question addressed in a recent anthology, a group of essays, in The Good Men Project: Real stories from the front lines of modern manhood. I just finished reading this fascinating and powerful book.
Basically, The Good Men Project, is a forum for modern men of all stripes to share honest & gripping stories about their greatest challenges, struggles, losses, and triumphs. Even though this book revolves around the core of what it means to be a good man – the project pioneers that created this anthology (James Houghton, Larry Bean, and Tom Matlack) make sure to not provide an answer to this overarching question. No, they leave it to the reader to extrapolate pieces from the stories combined with self-reflection in their own lives to come to a conclusion. What sold me on this project is the depth, candid-ness, and graphic nature of the stories that the different men share.
Who are the men, the voices, telling these stories? They are fathers, sons, husbands, and workers. Some are wealthy and some are poor, some are white and some are from ethnic backgrounds, some are from urban areas and some from the burbs. “From Pulitzer winners and Poet Laureates to ex-cons, Pro Football Hall of Famers, a soldier, and just regular guys.”
There is even a story from Charlie LeDuff, describing his role as a stay-at-home dad, in the group of over thirty essays within this project. Here is an excerpt from LeDuff, to get a flavor for the honesty of his essay:
Now, I another creature altogether. I am a stay-at-home-dad. Allow me a qualification here. It is a blessing to watch your baby’s eyes – those fluttering little half-moons – slowly transform from slate to brown. the eyebrows grow in later, in case you did not know. Thre is the moment when your little beast has figured out how to stand on her wobbly legs with the help of a chair. these are the good parts.
But, I am a man, and a man at home alone with an infant is up the hill without a rope. Confusion reigns. How much to feed? How much sleep? When? The baby does not know. You do not know. Those baby books are confusing, long-winded, and in need of some good editing. The little thing holws, flushes crimson, gasps for air. You grow frightened. Fear gives way to weariness. Then, like a heel, you close the door an walk away.
My go-to-work wife returns home after i’ve endured nine hours of this, nine hours of my cleaning toilets, and ruining clothes, and washing Claudette’s diapers, and mopping floors. When my go-to0work wife walks in the door thirty minutes late, I’m there to ask where her priorities are. It’s the stuff of daytime talk shows.
I was intrigued by how this dad shared his perspective in such a visual way by painting a picture with his words. In another part of his essay, he describes the challenge he faced when taking his child to a “Mommy & Me” yoga class, and was told that the class was “closed (to him) because he was not a mommy”…and”they might not feel comfortable if you were in there.” It was admirable (not what I would have done) on how he handled it by leaving without incident.
In the age of discovering more content & resources out there for men as well as fathers, The Good Men Project, certainly fits the bill.