Soon my son was calling me during the day, asking if I thought steamed squash would be a good first food for Will, or if there was a relationship between diaper rash and teething. He strode around town with his baby strapped to his chest, shopping for groceries, taking Will to his pediatrician appointments, meeting other parents in the park.
On a recent visit, I watched my son perform the morning nap ritual: change Will's diaper, tickle his belly, read him a few books, give him a bottle, kiss his little face and put him in the crib. After the baby had fallen asleep, I told my son he was being "such a great Mommy." He corrected me: "I am not being a Mommy; I am being a Daddy." I was humbled, proud and excited for humankind.
Which is why a sentence like "Let's take Betty Sutton out of the House and send her back to the kitchen" is so dangerous. It doesn't threaten only Rep. Sutton's campaign in particular, or women's progress in general. It also threatens to set male evolution back decades. There are millions of men like my son. I've met them—in the park with their babies, in meetings where I work, in the images we are beginning to see on television and in the movies. These men believe they should be able to do what women have always done—nurture the kids, take care of the house, communicate more fluidly, practice empathy. They know a man is still a man if he does "women's work," just as a woman is still a woman if she brings home a paycheck, competes in a sport, takes risks, shoulders responsibility. These men know that true gender equality goes both ways.
So let's send all of us proudly into the kitchen and out to work, into the nursery and onto the playing fields, into the halls of power and back home again. Let's help each other learn and respect the full range of human intelligences. We'll all be better for it—the men, the women, and the children.
As the co-founder of Omega Institute, America's largest adult education center focusing on health, wellness, spirituality and creativity, Elizabeth Lesser has studied and worked with leading figures in the fields of healing and spiritual development for decades. A former midwife and mother of three grown sons, she is also the author of Broken Open and A Seeker's Guide.
Reading more from Elizabeth Lesser:
Is the world spinning out of control?
How to love your children with all your might
When enough is enough