[The following post was written for the launch of Good Men Project Magazine where I write on being a man in the company of women.]
I was born in a crossfire hurricane. Actually, I wasn’t. But I’ve always wanted to use that Rolling Stones line. The only recorded hurricane to directly hit my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, was Dora—that was in 1964, about a month after I was born. I wasn’t a preemie, but I was weak and small and had to start my life in an incubator. My mother withstood something like 835 hours of labor before I arrived. According to her, I was quite happy where I was. During the hurricane, I lived in the top drawer of a dresser at my grandmother’s house.
Two years later, on my birthday, a sister arrived. Two more sisters would follow, none with hurricanes attached. During my childhood, I was a pretty good kid. Until the day I woke up and had become Holden Caulfield. I took my first sip of alcohol when I was 16 – and everything went dark for a decade. Yadda yadda yadda – now I’m happily married with two daughters, a live-in mother in-law, and two female canines. Life couldn’t be better. Also, I'm damn lucky to have testicles.
But before you think I’m the kind of guy who enjoys shopping, baking, and picking out wallpaper — don’t. I’m not like that at all. Not that I’m as crude as the grizzly stereotype – but make no mistake, I'm just a man who is a contributor in a shared life. I just happen to be the only one with whiskers and big biceps.
When the Good Men Project Magazine asked if I’d consider writing a regular column, I jumped at the chance. I think I can offer a unique perspective, from a man who has spent the best parts of his life surrounded by women.
Before you get too excited, I’m not promising to solve the Venus-Mars thing. My goal is modest: I’ll share both the little victories and bonehead mistakes, and pursue what it means to be a good man, in the context of our relationships with the “fairer” sex.
My wife and I have two daughters; they’re nine and six years old. Every day is an adventure. I consider myself lucky to know how to slow down and recognize significant moments—ones that I used to let rush past. Sometimes these moments are about being a father. Or a husband. Or a friend. Sometimes they’re about God. Or ice cream.
I won’t always focus on what it means to be a man around women; over the next few years my daughters and wife will be going through some pretty remarkable changes. And I’ll be going through them right along with them.
I love my life. Exclusivity has its privileges. I dedicate this column to the women who have contributed so much to my becoming a man—and who continue to help me be a good one.
For the record, before 1979, the National Hurricane Center only used female names for hurricanes and storms. Then came the Women’s Movement, and the NHC revised the policy to include men’s names. The women who raised me said they named hurricanes after women because of their unpredictable nature. The NHC denies this, as you might expect.
Jim Mitchem is a father, husband, writer, entrepreneur and contributing writer for Good Men Project Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @smashadv.