Sometimes the simplest conversations yield the most profound insights.
I discovered that the other day when I stopped to chat with our UPS delivery man. Always friendly, the two of us had some good conversations in 2019 or 2020 BC (that’s “Before COVID”), but we hadn’t seen each other since the great plague. When I asked how he was, he let loose.
“Ah, man! Busy! It’s like Christmas but worse, because we don’t have the extra help we have then,” he replied.
He then told me that he had well over 300 stops to make that day and would likely fail to get all of them done, even though he was working 14- to 15-hour days in the COVID rush. Although he’d planned to stay with the company longer, he confessed, “I’m thinking of retiring early and finding another job.”
Who could blame him? Certainly not I.
But then my delivery friend returned to his normal, cheery, matter-of-fact self as he made the following statement:
“But you know? It’s all worth it because of my little daughter. She’s three. When I get home and see her—boy! It’s like, you’re taller. You feel like a man, you know?”
Obviously as a female, I didn’t know, but I’m glad he uttered that statement, because it was a glimpse into the male mind I had never had before. Sure, I’ve always heard that marriage does wonders for a man. He earns more, takes more responsibility, and seems to automatically gain favor with management and climb the ladder of his profession. But that a man would actually verbalize how his child makes him feel more like a man and makes all the blood, sweat, and tears he puts in at work seem worth it? I find that amazing.
Unfortunately, while my friend the UPS man is experiencing this, it is something that many men are missing. We’ve all seen the headlines about declining fertility rates. Initially, many thought we’d see these rates briefly reverse course when the pandemic hit, with the quarantine potentially causing a mini baby-boom. News now tells us that’s not happening. In fact, global fertility rates are dropping so drastically that some experts are pleading with families to have children.
Putting these low fertility rates and my friend’s revealing statement together, I suddenly had a revelation. Is it possible that the lack of children, the lack of fertility in our world, is why we struggle with manhood in this day and age? Is it possible that the big shoes men are called to fill are shoes they can only grow into over time as they marry, have children, and work hard to support and head up a household?
In recent years, there have been numerous complaints by women that there just aren’t any good men out there. They’re not masculine enough, or ambitious enough, or they don’t want to lead. But could this problem be the result of a society that seeks to emasculate them?
Since the advent of “the pill,” men have been able to gain the sexual intimacy they naturally crave at a cheap price, avoiding the strings of a wife to provide for and children to raise. It’s easy to see how this cheap sex hurts women … but does it hurt men as well? Does it keep grown men in the little boy stage, unable to mature, unable to reach the heights of protector and provider that many women are looking for (even if they don’t realize it or won’t admit it to protect their feminist sensibilities)?
The joy on my friend’s face when he talked about his wife and child—the joy with which he does a job which, though difficult, provides for his family—was a pleasure to see. I only hope that same joy and masculine pride spreads to more men in this nation.
Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. This article was originally published on Intellectual Takeout.