I’ve been thinking a lot this morning about the phrase “I care” and what exactly does that mean. In general conversation, it seems to indicate an interest in something, perhaps even a concern for the outcome of a situation. “I care, about gun control” for instance.
The problem with the use of “I care” is when it’s followed by “but” which often seems to negate the concept of concern all together. “I care, but your solution to gun control impacts my right to bear arms”. That often sounds to me like someone cares more about their guns than they do about the innocent children being slaughtered while they’re in school. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
I’m more interested in the use of the phrase “I care” when it’s related to familiars, such as your family and friends. I’ve decided this morning that “I care” means something different to women than it does to men.
For women, “I care” means we have concern or care about the well-being of those in our lives. We take concern for your health, state of mind and your needs. Often times that care goes unnoticed and even more often it also goes unappreciated. We do things for those we care about without being asked or told, because we love those people in our lives. Whither it’s buying your favorite cheese at the deli or your preferred beverage at the grocery store in this weeks shopping. You don’t have to ask us to pick it up. We do it because we’re thinking of you and we care enough to add it to the grocery list.
Men, of all ages, have a different outlook on the phrase “I care”, it seems. They have to be asked to pick up an item at the store for those they care about. Even when it’s something they’ve been asked to pick up every week for the past 6 months straight. You still have to “ask” them to go by that store on their way home, just as they’ve always done. Even if you say something like “I’m getting a little tired of this or that”, they take that to mean you no longer want it without question. Do they ask you the next week to clarify that off the cuff remark? Did you want me to pick you up your favorite breakfast this week? Or are you done with that all together? A simple question, but if they cared the way women see that phrase, it’s a question that would be asked. There wouldn’t be any ambiguity.
When men say they care, it seems what they’re saying is, I care that you’re not going to be able to do what I expect you to do for me. If a woman is sick, they care. They care that you’re not able to fix dinner, or go behind them and clean up the kitchen because they did a half assed job of it. They care you can’t go to the store, or pick the kids up from school as usual. When they have to be bothered to be a parent because you’re unable to do so, that’s when they care. Not for you, but for the inconvenience.
Male children aren’t much different. “I care about the cats”, means I care that they’re able to play and make me laugh. I don’t care enough to look down at their food and water as I walk through the kitchen to see if they need anything. I don’t care if they’re healthy, happy or starving. No, Mom has to tell me to feed them and make sure they have fresh water, because I can’t be bothered with that kind of concern.
Women seem to have gotten used to that kind of selfish narrow-minded concern. No matter how much we’ve tried to teach our children to appreciate what we’ve given, or done for them, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Boys still grow into the same perspective long-held by their fathers and their father’s father and so on. We’re supposed to turn the other cheek and suck it up.
Our protests are often met with defensive explanations like “I can’t read your mind”, “I don’t know what you like” or “You just have to ask”. Really? You can’t figure out on your own that when a woman asks you to stop by the store on your way home from work, every single week, to pick up a box of croissants, that just maybe she wants you to do it this week even though she didn’t ask? We know everything you like, what toothpaste you prefer, shaving gel, your preferred brand of cheese from the deli and how you like it cut. We know how you take your coffee, which beer you prefer and just about everything else that has to do with your food and your life…because we CARE.
For women, when we ask someone to do something for us, it’s a burden or a hassle. It’s often met with a deep sigh of annoyance or a sudden physical expression of exhaustion. God forbid we’d ask for help with something that isn’t in your plan for the day. Be it help with a chore, or an errand that’s “on your way home”.
If a woman were to ask for help because she’s physically limited and can’t bend over anymore, or the arthritis in your hands are so bad you can’t even cut a stick of butter in half without great pain, it’s still an annoyance. You’ve diverted their attention from something else or something they want to be doing and they don’t have two seconds to “care” about what you need or want.
“I care”, seems to be one-sided and rarely appreciated. No wonder older women become grumpy and annoyed by every little thing. Now I understand why my grandmother said “I’ve earned the right to be this way”. She and every woman in the world has earned that right, year after long disappointing year throughout the decades of her life.
~ Victoria Lynn