Chesty Puller saw some stuff. He fought in the Banana Wars. He fought in guerilla wars. He took islands in the Pacific during WWII. He fought in Korea.
So you might think that he’d be able to handle just about anything life threw at him. But like you, he was a father, and he found that it was just about the hardest thing a person can ever do.
Just home from Korea, having landed at Inchon and fought in the brutal cold at close quarters, Chesty and his wife had to take their daughter to get her tonsils out. Chesty, who had always been a sweetheart underneath, carried the girl to the operating room. Talking to her softly, he tried to lay down on the bed and let the nurse prepare her for surgery. But his daughter, scared and overwhelmed, refused to let go. She cried and screamed and clung to him, until they were eventually able to separate and sedate her. “She will never forgive me, Virginia,” he said to his wife when he returned to the waiting room. “This is worse than Peleliu.”
He was only half exaggerating. This thing demands more of us than just about anything else in life. It challenges us emotionally, physically, mentally. It tugs on every one of our heartstrings. You can toughen yourself up for war, you can coolly bet millions of dollars at work, but there’s nothing you can do about the gaping soft spot your kids have access to. Nothing can get you quite like they do… because nothing matters to you quite like they do.
This is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Know it. Accept it. And understand that it’s humbled far stronger and braver parents than you.