Sunday, July 23, 2023

Fatherhood and Baseball

My son is now a toddler. Which means as a father you transition into the role of a goalie. Doing your best to keep him from putting things in his mouth, walking somewhere he shouldn't, and in general pulling out all of the authoritarian instincts you'd rather not have but all of us do as humans. Or putting it more realistically and optimistically, the protection instincts. And just like the freedom vs. order battles we have as we get older, I will say that it's better to eventually fall down and learn rather than constantly have an overly-protective parent lurking about all the time. But there will be a time and a place for that. As the years go by, one of these places will be the sport of baseball. 

 I'm just out of my rookie season as a new Dad, but as your role expands with each passing month and year, you get more and more to do, which is good. I find myself preparing and planning the future for the family more and more down to the smallest detail. My wife and I are planning to eventually move from our "starter home" to a "family forever home" for instance. And the detail on my mind the most has nothing to do with the home and everything to do with proximity to downtown Little League baseball fields. 

 My father was a home salesman and a road warrior but he was a bit less busy in the summer as home show season was over. He'd set aside time and coach my Little League and youth baseball teams. It was the most time we ever spent together when I was that age and I imagine the story repeats itself all across the country, or at least it did for a few generations. The ending of Field of Dreams works for a reason after all. But I think about those baseball fields, and aim to make sure the home where our children make most of our memories is nearby. Now maybe the children won't like baseball? Would I be a bit disappointed? Of course. But I'd adjust. Because as the years go by you realize that the game, as great as it is, was just the excuse. 

 This is my second blog for The Frank Forum, a space dedicated to the revitalization of America's distinct civic culture. Both articles deal with fatherhood and families as the theme and I'll confess that will almost always be the case. For those that want to read more distinctly political, historical, and policy writings my Substack, Twitter, and occasional op-eds and upcoming book co-authored with Gavin Wax will provide plenty of that. But when Frank invited me to contribute here and I read what he was trying to accomplish I realized it complimented what I was trying to accomplish too, just as our conversations over the past few years have done that. I'm growing increasingly fond of the communitarian word as well. For while America was founded to secure the blessings of liberty, the founders also understood that such a nation could not long endure without the "little platoons" of association, the Tocqevillian-observed civic culture, and in the case of much of what I'll write about here and elsewhere, without the family. 

 Families are an obstacle to the left's ambitions. Families are also the renewal and recovery point for this country. The coalition that makes it easier to raise a family in this country will rightfully govern for a long, long time, and nationally, it offers our best chance of civic renewal and recovering a communitarian a moment that compliments our individual liberties rather than competes with them. Herein lies the real future of the right. Populist as well as communitarian in the most time-tested and tradition-minded of ways. It won't be easy, but great things never are easy to build up and make great. For if this American song in the 21st Century is to soar, and if we do not pick up and reconnect with communitarian traditions, we're vulnerable to more and more cultural and economic collectivism, statism, and the same old disastrous road to serfdom the well-meaning liberty-minded people were so worried about in the middle of last century. 


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