Ernest Hemingway was not a great husband or, as often as he should have been, a great father. He had four wives, at least one affair, and was often absent in his family’s life, preferring to spend his time when not writing on big-game hunting, deep sea fishing, bullfighting, and so on. But he was a great writer and a great observer of the human condition. There are few scenes in literature that capture love and loss and the terrifying but also inspiring moment of becoming a father quite like the end of A Farewell to Arms. And nothing quite captures love like this quote from it:
“When you love, you wish to do things for. You wish to sacrifice for. You wish to serve.”
Isn’t that what we’re doing here as dads? We’re asking that question Tom Hanks expressed almost as beautifully as Hemingway:
“What do you need me to do? You offer up that to them. I will do anything I can possibly do in order to keep you safe. That’s it. Offer that up and then just love them.”
So think about that today. Remind yourself what love is, what your job is. You’re here to serve. Whether that’s driving them around, or just listening to them talk. Your job is to sacrifice. To give what you didn’t get.
Offer that up. Offer it always. Even if they’re not ready to take it. Even if they don’t understand. Even if you’re not as good at it as you’d like to be. Just keep trying. Keep serving.