And I’m not talking about the obvious up/down toilet seat controversy that has divided the sexes through the ages.
What I’m talking about is the way men and women, boys and girls, view themselves in relation to everyone else and the world. We’ve been taught to look for the good in other people, but women seem to have mistakenly taken this one step farther and find fault with themselves in a way men don’t seem to. Let me offer a few examples.
When my friend came by one day to pick up her son from my house, I immediately slipped into my “I apologize for the way my house looks” mode. Now, I had averaged seven to eleven kids in my house for the last four weeks, so, realistically, how great could it have looked? But I said anyway, “Just ignore the way my house looks—I haven’t gotten to the living room yet.” (The truth was, I couldn’t find a way through to the living room!)
Then, not surprisingly, she started apologizing for the way her house looked. “Don’t worry,” she said, “my ironing board and stuff is still all over my den.” Then I answered, “You should see my downstairs. I wish it were just my ironing board that was out. It’s every toy in the house.”
“Talk about downstairs…” she then said. “My downstairs looks like the blitz of London!” “Blitz of London?” I countered. “My bedroom looks like the aftermath of Armageddon!”
You can imagine the rest. When I got to the stray squirrel that had wandered into the garage and died while we were on vacation, I knew she couldn’t top the plague of flies like unto Moses’. It was then that I realized how desperate our situation was.
In contrast, consider men and their fish stories. When men get together, they don’t spend their time making themselves look inadequate—their accomplishments get bigger and bigger. No man would ever answer a compliment about how nice he looks with “You’ve got to be kidding. I look so fat in these jeans, and my hair won’t do a thing in this humidity!” No way. He would swagger a little and say something like, “You’ll notice I always look nice.”
This phenomenon starts early. When my youngest daughter was only five, she came upstairs with her Barbie doll in hand and asked me how she could get as thin as Barbie! When I took them all bowling, she dissolved in tears at each gutter ball and declared she was a terrible bowler, while her brothers all stood around blaming each other for making them mess up or joking that they had weak knees from playing great basketball.
I have no answers for this difference between males and females. I just know it’s probably my fault somehow. This morning I tried to think of some answers, but I need to go get busy. My living room is covered in two feet of dust, and my mountain of laundry is taller than Mt. Everest. Plus, I just can’t type anymore because my fingernails are weaker than anyone else’s in the known universe. All I can manage to say is, “Let’s lighten up, ladies.”