The War At Home

The news is telling us all about Ukraine, it sure is heartbreaking news. Worse, as an advocate of freedom I wish our government would do more, even if that means sending our young men and women to a far-off place to fight. But, that’s a lot of my opinion, I’m not a politician, and this post isn’t about politics.

We’re all fighting wars, every single one of us. For the last two years we’ve all been fighting a common enemy, the COVID pandemic. But more than that, our world has shifted sands beneath us all. Schools are remote then in person, or some mix. Inflation, raising gas, utility and rent prices. Some are fighting a wage war, where we’re demanding more money for jobs that have been considered for less-skilled workers. Us parents, we fight wars daily – all while trying to remember that a pandemic or something else awful might someday steal our babies. I’m exhausted, and I bet you are too.

I’m 46 years old this year. People my age bear the brunt of paying more taxes, being in leadership roles, volunteering, helping in just about everyway. We’re raising our children and often actively are or are preparing to take care of our parents. At least, those of us lucky enough to have good ones. For me, this has been taking a toll too. But it’s a fair tax, I suppose, and one paid by every single generation. We’re the wage earners prime in our careers, we have children of school age, some of us are bosses or managers, or are leaders in various other roles.

More and more I see young people and I judge them too harshly because I was once young too, and probably much more foolish than they are. But I fall into that trap anyways. But this gives old me some hope! I think that when I’m 86 I will look back at the young buck that was once 46 and thought he knew something about life, and scoff. I will be softer, wiser, and smarter.

My oldest son turned 18 and this has sent me into a bit of a tailspin lately. I feel old, but know that I am not as old as I feel, but I feel old. I am so worried about his future, if I did enough, what else I can do still.

I remember the day he was born, he literally took my breath away the first time I saw him. It was real and true love at first sight. I remember thinking what a great dad I would be, the best dad! Jackson would be good at everything, loved by many, so perfectly smart, charming, charismatic and athletic. I would give him everything I knew, and he would become one amazing man some day.

Then he was 5, then 10 – and the years began to slip by fast. Then 12! then 15, then got his license and I blinked and now he’s 18! I wasn’t the perfect father, I didn’t teach him everything – I barely knew anything when I was 26 or 36, but I did the very best that I could at every moment. Sometimes I was angry, angrier more times than I wanted to be. Sometimes I was frustrated, sometimes sad. Sometimes I was working too much, and gone when I didn’t want to be. Mostly – I was so fearful of the man he might become that I didn’t get to take in the man he was becoming. You see, I was just scared to death he would become just like me.

But he became more than me anyways, in spite of my flailing around at fatherhood. Simply put, I taught him everything I knew, and he learned it – and made it his own. He took what he liked, and discarded what he didn’t, and became his own person. I can’t begin to tell you how proud my oldest son makes me. He’s incredibly smart, confident, he’s a hard worker and a good person. He cares about people, and the world, and is passionate about making our world a better place. Our world is better with him in it, he doesn’t know that’s enough for him to change the world, yet.

Someday soon he’ll realize that I know less than he could’ve ever imagined. Someday he might not need me, if I did my job right – and I hope I did. Someday he’ll be 46 and I’ll be pushing 80. Perhaps he’ll wonder how long Dad will still be around. He’ll have children, and I hope a good marriage and job and life – but he’ll have some shape of a life – and even if it turns out to be the most amazing, I’ll still wonder what I could do more and better for him. I hope he won’t need to borrow money from me then, but I hope to have more to give him then too if he needs it. If he needs a ride, or a friend, or someone to talk to, I hope I can be there for him too.

Someday, all of my children will be grown, even 4 year old Evan. I suspect Rachel and I will see grandchildren, and perhaps great grandchildren! Perhaps I’ll be a better grand-daddy than I was a father. Someday they will all be standing beside my casket, there will be flowers, and I’ll be at rest. Meanwhile, they will continue to fight The War At Home with whatever I could equip them with and everything else they learn.

When I pray for my children nightly, then it always goes something like this:

Father – when I failed, I pray you fill in that gap with your abundant wisdom, mercy and grace.
Father – when I was too angry, let them only recall a love full of passion.
Father – when I was gone, let them only recall that they missed me.
Father – seek them all the days of their lives, that they may seek you.

There are many wars worth fighting, but none more important than for the hearts and souls of your children. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust – we will all pass and return to dirt. But legacy is passed down to the next, and the next, and it is the only war worth fighting at home. Except, it’s not a war at all – it’s a love. Giving everything that you have in that moment, that’s love. Protecting with all that you have, that’s love. Holding with all the you are, that’s love. Teaching all that you know, that’s love. And, as a song once said, Love is all you really have to give. I hope that I loved enough, and where I failed, God lifted his love and shrouded my behavior. I’ve many years to go, and in the future, I want to give more love – even if they all turn out to be just like me. Perhaps I’ll learn to love me, too.

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