5 Lessons I Learned From Mum…On Being A Man…

Saying “growing up isn’t easy,” is an understatement for most people.  You learn what is socially acceptable and what isn’t, often, the hard way.  You learn what real friends are and what real friends are not.  For me growing up was a nightmare at best.  I wouldn’t suggest some of those experiences to anyone.

During those times growing up I had a few heroes who helped along the way.   One in particular stuck out from the rest.  She taught me what real strength was.  She fought unseen battles and, for the most part, kept her composure while making it look easy.

While us kids went berserk, she went into overdrive to make home-life sort of work.  She was the water to the fire.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s obvious I’m talking about my mom.  Without getting into detail, I firmly believe she did whatever she could to put her own healing salve on a rotting situation.  She was, and still is, a nurse and had to learn her own tough journey through the trials that follow that profession.

Later in life, when I began my own journey to unveil true masculinity, I began to see certain behavioral traits pop up under the description of masculine traits.  However, imagine the confusion when I realized my own mother carried ALL of these traits.  Not only did she carry some of them, she had mastered them.  That is when I began to realize, perhaps not all I was taught on being a man when I was growing up was true.

And, it is also when I realized she had taught me life lessons throughout my entire life.

Keep Getting Back Up:


A while back we had an article on life lessons taught through boxing, well, one of them was find a good coach.  She was my first coach.  And she modeled the attitude of keep getting up.  Life will knock you down but you MUST get up.  Not that she was knocked down a lot, if ever, but I was.

Every time I stumbled, every time I gashed my spirit against something immovable, she was there to coach me into getting up.  She taught me to stare the demon in the eye, fix my heart on the target, and get back on my feet again.

There were a few times, very few, that I saw life break my mother.  And to my expectation, she would stand back up, stride forward, and take on whatever was there.  She always gets back up.

Who Cares What They Think:

She would say she knew from the moment I learned how to walk, that I walked to the beat of my own drum.  I didn’t let opinions really bother me that much.  Maybe some of this is just my “nature,” but I believe that she not only modeled this, but encouraged it as well.

She knew that people often act out of whatever it is they are going through in their own personal movie.  And that movie often had nothing to do with us personally.  She would hear people’s stereotypes or criticisms on different ideas or opinions and tell me, “It doesn’t matter what they think.  It only matters what you choose to do.”

She taught to care how people feel, but that opinions are a dime a dozen.  Notice the difference?  People often get those two confused.  It sounds offensive to say you don’t care what other people think.  But it is because it is assumed that you don’t respect their opinion or how they “feel.”  Often they’re confused as one in the same.  This is where the part of her being a nurse comes in.  When you care about how a person feels, it allows you a level of empathy and understanding of where they are at.  It gives you the ability to peek in to their soul a bit without taking a disagreement personally.  Or taking what their opinion is to heart.  It is understanding what is or isn’t simply just an opinion.

Kindness and Vulnerability = Strength:

Love = Strength

Love = Strength

One of the first lies I uncovered years ago was that many men believe that kindness and vulnerability means being weak and emotional.  Forgetting the fact that all men are emotional creatures.  We’re human therefore we are and have emotions.  Just watch any guy’s favorite football team lose and you can often see this in action.

We are taught from day one to be a “man” and not cry.  We are taught to be a pillar of strength for everyone around us, not realizing that a “pillar of strength” comes from the ability to be kind and vulnerable.   We believe that a wall or over defensive attitudes is the equivalent to being strong.

So how was I taught this from my mother?  To this day I have found few people as kind and as forgiving as she is.  She is vulnerable.  If you cut her, she will bleed.  However, she knows how to heal, get back up, and give you an honest perspective of that pain and the healing thereafter.

She expressed that it was okay to feel hurt, anger, love, and kindness, but the most important part of feeling is what you do with what you feel.  Do you hurt others or do you grow from it?  Do you use it to help or to harm?  And though you may feel like harming someone, usually that is not the correct answer.

She felt the same about kindness.  Ever hear that expression, “Kill them with kindness.”  She lived that expression in how she dealt with people in her life.  She taught to be compassionate as well as passionate.  She showed by example that it is tough to be consistently compassionate and kind towards your fellow man.  But it makes you stronger.  It is simply easy to react all the time.  It is easy to judge and criticize people harshly.

Throughout my entire life she has always done her best to move mountains using examples of kindness, like giving, forgiving, sharing, listening, and always standing.

Have Valor:


I find it interesting that if you were to describe any one of my childhood fictional heroes they would have a high level of valor.  The Dark Knight, Zorro, Lone Ranger, Indiana Jones, Han Solo….the list goes on.  However, the one person putting out the daily fires held it all together by exhibiting valor in her everyday life.

Valor is that grit that pushes you towards what you believe in.  You are fighting for a cause that, at times, feels bigger than you.  Valor is that extra backbone needed when confronted by your personal demons or the demons of someone else.  And valor is also humbling.

To be valiant, one must be brave enough to admit that maybe they’re not always right.  Or admitting that maybe it isn’t about who is right, or who is wrong, but fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves and protecting those who cannot protect themselves.  It is the courage to look at the person in the mirror and say, “We need to work on some things.”

If I were to ask any guy to describe a father or on being a “man”; the idea of protecting the family, women, children, etc. comes to mind.  However, ask any mother if “Momma Bear” has ever had to come out, and you’ll get a resounding “yes.”  Isn’t that just another way of asking if she feels protective as well?   My point being, we’re taught, as men, we must protect the weak, and the children and women.  The irony being, women are just as capable and often have to fill the shoes of two parents.

You really wanna mess with her kids?

You really wanna mess with her kids?

My mother has this in spades.  It is subtle, unrevealing, and beneath the surface.  But it is there.  Like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic it is there.  Believe me.  I have seen her fight for her family, her children, and for those she loves.  Unrelenting she steps in the gap if another family member needs her, often not even asked.  It is her code, her mantra, and never asks for thanks in return.

When I was moving to the West Coast, and had the faith of few behind me, she said, “Go now, while you have the resilience to bounce back.  Be relentless, and courageous.”  But her spirit said, “Have Valor, and fight for all you believe in.”  She is the exemplar of this, even through her kindness and vulnerability.

Have Strong Boundaries:

She once said, “I have a lot of love, but sometimes I have to show tough love.”  Tough love or having boundaries is showing people where your line is.  Throughout my life and time after time I witness people mistake her kind heart for someone who can be taken advantage of.  It was often a shocking underestimation of my mother’s strength.

Having boundaries is the ability to say, “This is my space.” Or to say, “Thank you, but no.”  Having boundaries is the wisdom to recognize personal manipulation and politely declining the invitation.  It is recognizing bad or 2nd class behavior and not rewarding it.

My mother is such a giver that often she feels a strain when needing to say no to people.  If she could, she’d save the world.  Who wouldn’t?  But sometimes she knows someone is trying to take advantage of her, or misleading her, or using her.  Using what she knows as kindness she would quietly, and politely decline.

Growing up she not only established her boundaries with me as her child, but with other people.  “You don’t have to say yes.”  Or, “Don’t let people walk over you.”  And another famous line, “I don’t need to give you a reason.  The answer is just no.”  Although that sounds like a “parent” answer she also showed that you don’t always NEED an answer.   No or yes, whatever your boundary is, should be enough.

Throughout life we look for our teachers, and often they are the ones right in front of us.  And often they break the roles society places for them, teaching us that we should do the same.  Often we are so caught up in the everyday mess, political poisons,  intoxicated Earth, cruelty to life, and the abandonment of all that seems so decent.  It is important to reflect on what we have learned so we can impact those around us.  Someone once told me they wanted to change the world.  I said, “Do it, but start with the world inside your home, then move on from there.”

Thank you for reading.


M. W. Larsen

One Response to 5 Lessons I Learned From Mum…On Being A Man…

  1. Kittyskyline says:

    This is gorgeous. I wish more men saw strength in women like you do. I love this entire article.

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