For Colored Girls Who Are Tired Of Mothering Men

Warning: This post might piss you off--
especially if you are uhh...
a certain type of man.

Ok. Get out of your feelings.
#NotALLMen -- say that to yourself, over and over again as you read this post.
K. Thanks.

I am a strong black woman.

And I have a therapist.
(We've been through this, but see Therapy Blog)

And I have a circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who encourage me, hold me accountable, pray with me, laugh with me, play tick-tack-toe with me, slap me up side the head, etc. And I call on the ancestors often--my cloud of witnesses--Wilhelmenia & Myrtle & Prathia & Lorraine & Claudette & Ora Lee...the list goes on.

I have dealt with many men in my lifetime--mostly black men. I've sometimes dealt with them in romantic relationships. I've often dealt with them in professional partnerships or collegiate relationships. Overall, what I've noticed is that many hetero-cisgender men I've dealt with don't have many friends. 😲 Or any, for that matter. They don't have any mirrors--any people in their lives holding up a reflection of who and where they are, and therefore, no one to critique behavioral flaws or encourage the goodness that is happening in their lives.

Having been in NYC for 7 years now, I've seen some version of this deficiency present in most of my platonic and romantic relationships. I meet a guy, I ask him who his friends are, and he stutters--mumbling words that are incomprehensible, letting me know that he is unsure how to answer or how to proceed with the conversation. This would, otherwise, be none of my business, except when it becomes my business (for whatever reason).

If someone were to ask me the same question, I'd have at least 5 people to rattle off the top of my head. These are the people who've held me as I cried and comforted me as snotted all over their cardigan during rough times in my life. These are the people who've flown across the country when I've told them I'm depressed and ready to quit life, or just to see me perform in Oregon. These are the people who ask me to sing at or officiate their weddings--and not as an afterthought, but because that's how much they value our relationship. And I also have a reliable therapist--which is a relationship in itself--who holds me accountable in ways my parents, friends, and partner can't.

But, I repeatedly come in contact with or hear of these men who seem to struggle in this department. Don't bother asking me how I know (or know of) them. I've spoken with current and ex-girlfriends, sisters and colleagues who have, in so many words, suggested that THEY ARE TIRED OF MOTHERING GROWN MEN! They are weary. They are worn. They want their buddy or co-worker or partner or cousin to have someone else to lean on; but, they are having trouble convincing that person to invest in those much needed relationships--in those friendships... in that therapist!

(And I don't always find this to be the case with my friends who identify as same-gender loving men--but that is not to say this cannot be the case, as I have not done any quantitative research.)

However, I find that many of us--women--are exhausted. We are tired of playing homegirl to our brothers who want us to be their pastor, their therapist, and their whole, entire friend circle FOR FREE! Bye Felix!

Listen, I've said this before but the black woman’s wisdom runs deep--deeply buried in the bloody soil of this nation! We are used to mothering everybody--from pushing white babies in strollers through Central Park, to healing an entire race that survives off of our sage-burning, prayer-chanting, hair-braiding, and stew-making capabilities. Many people want our wisdom but don't want to invest in a relationship. They want our nurturing but don't want to protect us when it counts. They want our mothering but don't want to work on building and sustaining other streams of nurturing.

Leading figures in society--mostly men--tell women to "work on themselves" that they could be "better"... better for what or for whom, well, that's debatable...😶 but, nonetheless, we do the work; yet, the work is met by men who have decidedly not done the work on themselves--who are offended by the very thought of doing so--by the very notion of reaching out to their homeboys for advice or speed-dating a few therapists. They are even offended by the thought of being told they have to work on themselves--by the notion that they need to deal with their emotions in a way that might feel uncomfortable, even though it will be beneficial in the long run. What do they expect to happen?--Do they expect their insecurities to go away overnight? Do they believe that a different partner will fix their problems for them? Do they feel that some other coping mechanism will drown out the pain that stems from avoiding looking at themselves in the mirror?

I was talking to a friend who was complaining about the fact that her significant other--a man--has no real friends. I asked her what that meant, knowing good and well what she was talking about. You see, his group chats are cute but are they holding him accountable? His buddy who likes to drink shots with him is cool, but is he holding up the mirror? Is he offering a listening ear or a box of tissues when he needs to cry? (And yes, MEN CRY!) Your "friend" who only invites you out for drinks when it's convenient for him is alright, but are y'all really sharing your lives, your pains, your anxieties, your disappointments, or are y'all just tapping glasses?

Let's be real here--women often get a bad rap for being "overly emotional" or "temperamental"--all assessments dripping with patriarchal tendencies--but one thing many of us don't lack are meaningful relationships. Real friends! Real Mentors! Real Family! When we toast with our friends at the dinner table, we follow that by sharing a piece of ourselves--our hearts, our deepest, most covert life experiences--with those people. They are not just our buddies we can be our pettiest, most unprofessional selves with; They are our rock. They are our refuge. They are the Grace of God in our lives. And I wonder what that would look like if the 21st century, hetero-cisgender man had something similar. Is that an impossible ask? While I admire Jay-Z for finally talking about his journey into therapy, do we have to wait until our brothers--our partners, our colleagues--are in their mid-40's for them to come into themselves...for them to step into their healing

I sit with these thoughts and inquiries, not having any answers. I sincerely want the best for my brothers out here in these streets, even when it seems as if they don't want the best for themselves. I love them so much, even when their desires don't match their actions, and we--their sisters and siblings--are caught somewhere between mothering them for the survival of the race, and abandoning them for the sake of self-care.

We love, deeply, but...
We tired, y'all!
And are about 2.5 seconds from feeding y'all to the lions. I'm just saying.

In the meantime, I'll save my mothering for children and pray that the rest of y'all get it together, 
in Jesus' name.

Amen and Ashe'.