FeaturedParenting & Families

I Have (Had) Enough: Memoirs of Abundance in Fatherhood, Friendship, and Faith.

By Jeff Jacobson

Worth reading 😎

Christian author Jeff Jacobson recounts his life parenting four children through a series of short, often funny, essays.

Synopsis

I’m new to marriage and the first Bush is president. Pretty soon there is a child: my son. Then there is diversion and frustration and wonder and suffering and infertility. And a loss of hope. I’m supposed to be learning about God’s timing. After five years of this, there are two more boys, at the same time. People ask us if twins run in our family, and we say they do now. Then there is a fourth: a girl (a princess). Right before she is born, my best childhood friend dies when planes fly into the Twin Towers. I write a lot about all of this. These are my stories.

Jeff Jacobson shares some of the joys and glories of parenting - perhaps I should call it "fathering" instead - in this collection of essays on raising four children. Even secular and freethinking readers will find entertaining stories and useful advice in I Have (Had) Enough.


The essays are organized more or less by child. We first meet Gabriel, who grows up to become a US Marine sergeant. Next are the twins, Tate and Levi, who survive a harrowing birth to spend their lives competing with each other, and others on the lacrosse field. Last is Chloe, the beautiful girl (inside and out) who dad thinks should spend her life protected by men.


Jacobson writes a letter to the future spouse of each child, describing each of them in terms you'd like your dad to describe you. Only Chloe's future husband gets a stern warning: You will stay married to Chloe, or all three brothers will likely come after you for hurting their sister.


We learn something of life in the Jacobson household - among other things, Dad arm wrestles every new friend that comes to visit, and he's undefeated so far. He also likes to write birthday letters to his kids, usually telling them how proud he is of them, what he likes about them, and occasionally reminders of pieces of advice he's offered them.

There is much gentle humor in here too. You probably won't embarrass yourself giggling on the bus while reading, but there are enough stories that will put a smile on your face.


Jacobson leaves the family stories for one section of the book to offer a tribute to his best friend in his school days, killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.


The book's final section, "If Jesus," offers parables of Jesus in a variety of everyday situations. Jacobson is big on giving money to people who ask for it on the street, and you'll learn why in "If Jesus Held a Sign." Aside from a few passing references in earlier essays, this is where Jacobson's faith is front and center.


There is good stuff here, and a very easy read.

Reviewed by

I am a co-author (with Carole Jelen) of "Build Your Author Platform: The New Rules" (Ben Bella). That project aside, I write about technology for print and websites. I've been a freelance writer dating back to the 20th century. I find the best way to learn about writing is reading a lot of it!

Synopsis

I’m new to marriage and the first Bush is president. Pretty soon there is a child: my son. Then there is diversion and frustration and wonder and suffering and infertility. And a loss of hope. I’m supposed to be learning about God’s timing. After five years of this, there are two more boys, at the same time. People ask us if twins run in our family, and we say they do now. Then there is a fourth: a girl (a princess). Right before she is born, my best childhood friend dies when planes fly into the Twin Towers. I write a lot about all of this. These are my stories.

The Hub of the Wheel

It’s early autumn and Ronald Reagan has settled into his second term. On this day of consequence, I see her for the first time, leaning against a wall. Her hair is long, blonde, and sort of curly, and the light is shining through a window, bouncing from this to that and reflecting off her in a surreal, angelic way. I don’t know it yet, but she will soon become the love of my life.

I also learn before long that she is good and virtuous and mostly naive, while I am not. She’s unimpressed with the likes of me, but I try to convince and coax her to my side just the same. As beautiful on the outside as her inside is pure, somehow I know that she’ll see right through me, right down into the center of me, and realize that I’m wild and irreverent and untamed—and mostly tarnished.

Sure enough, she does; yet, surprisingly, she stays.

And so it is that we grab onto each other for the days ahead of promise and joy, and that surreal sunlight-filled day in September turns into a year, and a year into thirty—years that defined, honed, and crafted us both. We have become best friends and we continue to beat the odds, aiming to be the one in two marriages that ends in marriage. There are no secret strategies, no books we’ve read on the subject. We simply share a love that burrows itself in as a steady tug of the spirit or a permanent but easy tap on the shoulder; it is a forward soul-momentum that approaches a speed where we have to clasp hands and negotiate turns and just hang on. Sometimes we lean back, close our eyes, and hold our breath until it’s over.

Through it all, we nurture a shared language with origins in a secret place only we know. It is a certain type of romantic dialogue, I suppose, for, above the chaos and din of parenthood and responsibilities and adulthood in general, we hear each other without speaking. We’ve cultivated and perfected it over the years without even noticing, but our fluency allows us to acknowledge quick glances, recognize innuendo, and retreat into each other often. There, we occupy each other’s space without sacrificing individuality.

My wife makes everything beautiful—it’s just her way. She lights up a room, a day, or a life. In little and not-so-little ways, her personality, character, and smile alter moods and lift spirits. She is the mother of four and quite decidedly the hub of the wheel. She is the taskmaster and the coach who calls us in from the sidelines, grabs us by the shoulders, and tells us to get our heads in the game. She is literally a breath of springtime, a crashing wave of summer, a stunning mosaic fall kaleidoscope, and the dazzling purity of the first winter snow, all wrapped into one.

God knew our lives would be filled with glorious highs and rock-bottom lows and that our adventures would overflow with unparalleled wonder and magnificent colors. But He also knew that the only way we would ever find the fullness of grace and the sustenance to persevere would be if we were by each other’s side. It would only happen through our oneness.

All these years later, it’s true that she still sees right through me. I’d like to think that I’m a little less wild, perhaps more reverent, and certainly more tame. But it doesn’t matter, because she loves me and accepts me for who I am. She has been intimately and intricately designed for such a time as this, prepared through the seasons and the chapters of her own life to join with mine. And I with hers.

And for us to tackle it together.

About the author

Jeff Jacobson is a New Jersey native who now calls the Hoosier state his home. He's a father of four and he's been married to his college sweetheart, Kristie, for nearly 30 years. His greatest joys and his best stories come from being a father, a friend, and a follower. view profile

Published on April 26, 2019

Published by

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Parenting & families

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