The year our son Eddie was in third grade, I was on the dance faculty at the University of Oklahoma, while my husband held down the home front. Bruce Feirstein’s satirical Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche was a best seller at the time. Ed thought the title was very funny, especially since he dashed home for lunch each day to inhale one of my husband’s specialties, homemade quiche.
A few years earlier, Eddie and I were checking out a nursery school when we witnessed the director admonishing an upset little boy for shedding tears. “Big boys don’t cry,” she announced.
I grabbed my son and said: “We’re outta here.” No way did I want him being in a place where it wasn’t okay for him to cry or express his feelings.
The fact is real boys and real men do eat quiche, and they do cry. And that’s a good thing. I was reminded of this last week when I was having dinner with my sisters and brother-in-law. He was recounting the time his grandson’s single parent mom was temporarily unable to care for him. My brother-in-law got on the next plane to California to retrieve his grandson before Social Services took over. He teared up as he recalled the little boy flying into his arms and saying, “I knew you’d come for me, Grandpa.” In that moment, I saw so clearly who my sister’s husband really is beneath his light-hearted banter —a man who deeply cares about his loved ones and always has their backs.
A couple of days later, my husband and I were decorating our tree with ornaments our children had made, my students and dear friends had given us, and ones we’d given to one another over the years. These keepsakes evoke so many memories of the years we’ve been together. My husband turned to me, and said, “I love you so much. I’m so happy to be sharing my life with you.”
There were tears in his eyes, and soon there were tears in mine. I not only felt incredibly thankful for my beloved husband, but I was so happy that he could cry, despite all the admonitions he’d received growing up that weeping was off the approved activity list for guys.
I love laughing with my husband. Crying brings us closer together as well.
Besides, he makes a mean quiche.