Ten Reader Replies: “Nurturance Is…”

Nurturance is when you get hit by an overwhelming bout of depression that leaves you crumpled up on the hard, cold floor of the shower, unable to move, and your partner finds you there and sits on the floor across from you, telling you he is there to lift you up and hold you whenever you are ready, and will keep you company for as long as it takes, even if it means sitting in silence.
-Kate Copeland, New York City, NY

This viral video of a Maori teen asking his nan to dance https://www.facebook.com/lifeinvadr/videos/1701724800074033/

The squeeze and warmth of my grandfather’s hand on my 6 year old shoulder as he swells with pride when introducing me as his “nieto.”

The kite handmade from scrap wood and green Christmas wrapping paper and long cloth tail that my grandfather handed me one windy spring day.

My best friend in college, where I was politically active and open about bisexuality, telling me sorry for having been distant for a few weeks as a reaction to gossip about us being a couple and then telling me how it felt to deal with that reaction.
– @apebit

Nurturance is: listening to all my female partners when they tell me what is wrong with how I or other men act towards them in negative ways. I nurture my partners by hearing them and endeavouring to change my actions and words, and to challenge the actions and words of other men when they are bad to women around me.
– Andrew R.

Nurturance is sitting in a circle with all the people involved in a conflict, including those you like and those you do not, so you can all take turns hearing one another and doing repair of your community.  – anonymous

Nurturance is working through and taking ownership over your actions and emotions with your partner in front of your child together.
My male partner of 12+ years, B,  was making dinner at home one evening while I was swimming at the neighbourhood pool with our 6-year old son W. When we got home from the pool after a couple of hours of swimming, I was suuuuper tired, feeling light-headed, and needing to lie down.
After about 10 minutes B. was getting the last bits of dinner ready and asked W. to help set the table. Trying to carry too much, W. dropped a bowl of stew on the floor and as I got up to help clean up, I mentioned that if the boys had really needed my help they could have asked me.
B. retorted that I seemed like I was “checked out” and the comment unwittingly stung me (it felt like I was being judged as lazy or useless and it hit a nerve with dynamics that my father and I had when I was growing up–being accused never doing enough).
I was really upset over supper and at first, B. said I was being “too sensitive,” “reading too much into it.” While it wasn’t an ideal time to work out our emotions, B. and I discussed why what he said upset me so much given that it wasn’t his intention to judge me or shame me.
During the conversation, B. revealed that he himself was really stressed about eating on time. It was getting later in the evening on a weekday–a school night–and while he wanted to give me time/space to rest, he felt more stressed when the stew was spilled, and frustrated with himself that he wasn’t able to get dinner on the table without incident.
W. piped up, “You know, daddy, mommy wasn’t ignoring us, we’re both just tired from all the swimming…” and he hugged me intensely.
Through the conversation, B. recognized that sometimes his words can hurt, judge or shame even when they aren’t intended to do so. He was sorry for it and said he also felt he should have asked me for help when he needed it.
Taking ownership over these things and having both of us move from stress/guilt/shame/ to mutual nurturance, is– I believe–a valuable thing for W. to witness. Even after the conflict was resolved, W. was intensely curious about why B. had said I was “checked out” and wanted to know why I had felt so hurt, also how we could avoid hurting each other in the future (“next time, I’ll ask for help, and you too, okay daddy?”).
It was a tough moment for us all but one that made us more aware and more strongly bonded in the end.
-C.M., Vancouver

Nurturance is whispering to the server as you refill the checkered basket of popcorn, that you’ll pick up the tab for your buddy, paying the ten bucks for his pair of pale ales, and listening to him spread his uncaged emotion out on the table, holding his eyes with yours, until he’s finished, and then some, to let him know that he—your brother from another mother— has all the space he needs, like lovers.

Nurturance is waking up before her on Saturday morning, kissing your life partner’s pillowed check, tiptoeing through the next hour, quietly breaking a bar of hazelnut dark chocolate into pieces, cracking egg, adding flour, mixing, pouring into pan, carefully sizzling pancakes, flipping them onto a steaming stack on a plate in the shape of a cabbage leaf before her sleepy-eyed but warm and smiling face.
– Ryan Loveeachother, Milledgeville, GA


More “Nurturance Is…” reader replies:
We Need Some Good News Today
Babies, Brothers, and saying “I Love You”
Puuung image used with permission.
Caption: “I’m here! I’ll be right up!
I spent the whole day preparing this delicious meal for you!
I can imagine you jump for joy, and just the thought of your happy face makes me smile.
Come up quickly so I can see your lovely face.”
See more Puuung art here: http://www.grafolio.com/puuung1/illustration.grfl


How does Nurturance Culture look, feel, smell, sound, taste to you? Send your one-line answers, video, audio, comics, art, poems, responses, to nora.samaran@gmail.com with subject line “Nurturance Is” to possibly appear in a future post! Check out the call for submissions.

All references to gender in this post are intended in a trans-inclusive way. I want to recognize that human beings’ lived experience of gender is much more complex than an either/or set of boxes can capture. When I speak of ‘men’ and ‘masculinity’ I am referring to masculine-identified people, including, as appropriate, aspects of the self for those who only partially identify in this way. Open to feedback and always happy to further nuance this analysis, feel free to get in touch. 🙂

I’m also working on a speculative fiction project. Check out Cipher here.

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Thank you for reading!
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