There comes a time in a man’s life when the favorite car gets traded in for a minivan. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and in time you start loving its usefulness. You begin to think that it’s worth all that money. Then you see all the stains, smells, dings, scratches, and dents that pile up on that thing, and you just want to scream. It’s one of many little – and not so little – sacrifices that men make for their families. One day I heard one of the car guys on Car Talk call the popularity of the minivan the “wussification of the American male.” I laughed, then wanted to cry.
Leading kids, whether its parenting, coaching, teaching, or mentoring, requires self-sacrifice. But it’s really not a sacrifice; it’s a series of trade-offs that may seem awful in the short view, but they are worth it all in the long run.
I had a baseball coach in middle school who had this awful Chevy station wagon, but it was a great way to lug half the team and all the gear around town. He hated that old beater of a car, but he loved us.
Andy Gullahorn is a terrific singer/songwriter from Nashville who should be a lot more popular than he is. His song “More of a Man” speaks to all the 30-something Dads out there.
The summer when I turned sixteen / I got up each day before the dawn / I was building barns and bailing hay / Worked harder than the day was long. / Now I’m 30 and I have three kids / I watch Dora the Explorer in the morning / I feel a sad truth sinking in / Maybe I was more of a man back then.
Buy the song on iTunes for a buck, or do yourself a favor and buy the whole album.
There are many things I miss from my bachelor days or the days with my wife before kids. But the trade-offs are worth it all. And so much of life is a package deal. With the deteriorating minivan comes countless smiles and laughs. And meaning.
So I suck in my protruding gut / On our monthly dinner night / You’re saying something about the kids / As I watch these young men pass me by. / I remember I was just like them / I was lonely but I called it independent / And if lonesome is what manly is / Baby, I was more of a man back then.
This reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Family Man, which always reminds me why “I choose us,” minivan and all.