My mind is cycling between clarity and confusion. I need to write simply to give my mind something to do, a distraction. The only real clear thought that I have is the assumption that I have held for a long time — in order to finish the race I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t have to win the race, but quitting is worse than not finishing. I don’t need to run a perfect race but struggling through it is going to produce the character I need to run other races.
But aren’t there some times I am going to step in a hole, feel the pain that mistake brings? What is the right thing to do about the pain? Keep running and let the effort carry it away? Let someone care for it, give me the assurance that I will be able to run again, let me withdraw and recover?
I don’t know.
It is really difficult for anyone to understand the way I am running the race without knowing how the race has gone lately. There have been some real obstacles in my way. If my life as a father and husband could be compared to the way I approach an actual race or endurance challenge, then I would break it up into little pieces and take each bit at a time. On longer rides, let’s a tough 100 mile ride with lots of climbs, I can look at a route map, use my ride computer to control my pace and see how far along I am, and I can literally force myself through even the toughest of rides by riding 10 miles a time, one mile at a time, and half mile at a time until I cross the finish line. If all I care about is finishing that is what I do. The competitor in me always wants to do better than just finishing. Surviving the race of husband and father may just mean being satisfied with finishing.
I really stepped in a hole tonight, though. I saw it coming, stepped in it any way. It just looked too big to run around.
My son is 14 years old. He is an over indulged, controlling, selfish, ungrateful kid who is given even more power by a mother who wants to control, refuses to do the smart thing by acknowledging that a father and husband deserves respect simply by who he is, and shows that disrespect to her husband in front of the 14 year old son. The boy challenges me constantly, picks at me.
“Your dad is having a bad day. He’s angry with you because he is having a bad day.”
No. Dad is angry because he spent all weekend working to fix the family car, mow the lawn, fix the boy’s bicycle, pick the boy up, drop the boy off, go out late at night to find a battery he needs at 5:30 the next morning — then wanted to watch his football team on Sunday night TV only to have the boy storm in to change the channel in front of him barely a minute after the TV was turned on. No, Dad is not angry because he is tired or having a bad day. He is angry because he is being disrespected, then treated like he is being a jerk for being angry.
The whole week has been like Sunday night. I am stressed. Very. Try dealing with a possible foreclosure while dealing with constant 14 year old angst. Yes, Dad is not having the best of times right now. But all Dad really wants is a chance to catch his breath, feel like his family is there for him. What happened to the era when the father came home to a nice home cooked meal, relaxed in his easy chair, was expected to take the time to decompress in his home?
A friend told me today that a old farmer shared a bit of simple wisdom with him before the old farmer passed away — people of the past had children because those children were assets. They needed to have children, many children, because those children helped around the farm, performed chores, served a purpose. Children these days are no longer an asset. They are a liability.
Jeez. I hope that’s not really true, but as I sit in the midst of this cloud of confusion, I can’t help but identify a little with that statement. It’s not the way I want it to be and I see the mistake in that way of thinking. Anyone can choose to look that way. But holy cow it’s a struggle not to think that way. The costs are just not looking like they are worth the limited reward. In a lot of marriages, the wife is not an asset either.
I backhanded my son tonight as I was driving him home from golf practice. He was mad because I didn’t get there to pick him up as soon as he wished. Instead of stopping the fight when I asked, asked him to be quiet the rest of the drive home, he decided to mock instead. So I backhanded him in the arm. Hard. With purpose. He was not going to stop.
I saw the hole, should have stopped, but chose to jump in instead. I am not a violent man, can be angry at times, but striking my son or my wife or my dog is not something that is a part of me. But I did it.
Believe it or not that is where some of the clarity comes in. The kid deserved it. But I also know that giving in to slugging him was not the answer. I should feel bad about it, but I don’t.
It’s nights like this when I really feel Satan tugging at my ankles. I understand more how he is trying to pull me down, beat me, get me to stop running the race. I read in the bible recently how Satan had been the Prince of the Air — the guy been raised above all — but his refusal to acknowledge God, denial of God’s sovereign power, disrespect and selfishness and ego forced him to be thrown to the pit. I can feel him trying to pull me into that pit with him as I give in to the struggle.
I don’t have an answer right now.