Happy 4th of July! Dad Matt Sweetwood ponders on the freedoms he wishes for as a dad.
Give me liberty or give me a hot dog and a beer. It’s good to have an option. In the heat of roaring BBQ’s and deafening sounds and bright flashes from fireworks, it’s easy to forget what the 4th of July is all about – An independence hard fought and earned that started from a dream.
And one man can dream too. I had to. I had 5 little kids to care for when their mother left us almost 20 years ago. Without a dream as a spark, there is little hope for success. My spark had to become a glorious fireworks display because the alternative to success was not an option. I love those kids way too much to have let them fail. And I did not.
So here are my 4 personal freedoms I wish for as we celebrate the 239th birthday of this great country.
- The Freedom from Having to Worry About My Kids
As impossible as that may sound, I’m beginning to get the picture some 20 years later, that you will always worry about them. The worry just morphs from one type to another. When they are babies you want to be sure they don’t electrocute themselves or fall down the stairs. As they enter school you worry about what they learn from schoolmates, and the strangers they come across. In their teens you worry about the opposite sex, bullying, and the kind of friends they make. When they are late-teens, you stress over their school performance and helping them get into college. When they get to college, you worry about their ability to avoid the numerous perils of being in that environment and on their own for the first time. And then you worry if they can get a job and get off the payroll. And it goes on…
- The Freedom to Know My Children Ultimately Will Not Need Me
To know they have found their own independence. To know most of all they are happy, healthy and successful in their lives. The freedom to die penniless knowing I have given them everything I have. This to me is how a real man and dad lives. And the final measure of my success as a father.
- The Freedom to Work Less
5 kids, 5 Bat Mitzvahs, 5 College Tuitions, 3 Daughter Weddings and 2 Ex-wives. Need I say more?
- The Freedom from the Polarized Society We Now Live
It seems every issue in the news is now positioned either Left or Right. This unending conflict makes me weary. We have lost our ability to compromise and see other points of view. We can’t seem to be able to disagree with understanding and compassion. It is easier to date a woman of different race or religion than of different political persuasion. Sigh.
Then, and you don’t have to tell me —I know, I will want freedom from my freedom, a call from my kids, and the desire to be back in the thick of the most important things I have ever done in my life, the things that have made me a dad and got me to man up. But I’ll have had those ten minutes.
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