Here's to all of the dads who understand that the key ingredient to being a great dad is showing up, no matter what. It seems like such a simple and obvious task. Just be there when your child needs someone to talk to or when there's a flute concert or when there's a football practice and they asked the parents to be there.
But, if you've shown up at any of these events you know from the empty seats how often it doesn't happen. There are so many great and worthwhile excuses like having work to get done or at least sending your spouse or maybe even a nice day and 18 holes. The average person would nod their head in agreement with each one of them and say, well, you tried.
However, parenting is not about you.
Most people get that in a general sense because particularly when the child is small, they obviously need us to focus. At first, everything about being a new parent is exhausting and makes the head spin because it's all so new, it's necessary and there's really no choice if the job is to be done even halfway right.
I remember when my son, Louie was brand new and I drove by a restaurant where my friends were sitting outside, laughing and chatting. I wanted to stop and join them but Louie needed my attention and that came first. That was the moment I knew things had changed forever and I just needed to give in and do it.
But here's an added twist.
In order to achieve greatness we have to be willing to show up and believe it'll all work out. We get that belief in doses every time a parent shows up for us. That goes double when we know they had to put something else aside in order to be there, in that seat.
All of us want our children to reach beyond what seems possible or easy and go for what challenges them, what brings out their talents and then tests the boundaries at least a little. We've learned by now that that's where the real rewards are waiting but if you can't risk it and show up, your chances of finding it go way down.
That's the exact spot where it comes in handy if you had a dad who went beyond what seemed easy or convenient and just showed up without wondering what was in it for them. They were there fitting in to the small desk or at the dinner table or standing on the sidelines and they were cheering for your success.
We may not know what rewards await us for trying every day but we've been given this wonderful example that going first is a big part of the process. It's like going to the gym every day in the early morning hours because being fit matters and then waiting months to see the results. Every morning, there you are in the spinning class doing your part. It's even about dating a lot of people but not settling for someone who seems okay but just isn't quite right for you.
You wade out again into the choices and believe in the possibilities of what might be there because you have a great dad who showed up and believed in you even though you were blowing the wrong note during the flute concert or were distracted by fireflies during the soccer game.
Dads are great at being open to the idea that your greatness is still evolving and chasing fireflies might be a part of the bigger picture.
When our children are grown it's even about showing up to say nothing at all and encouraging our children to need us less because we know they now have all the tools that they need to build their own dreams. To all of us, like me, whose great dad has passed away, may we live our lives in a way that honors their humor, their passion and their beliefs in us. Happy Father's Day everyone!
Martha Randolph Carr's column is distributed by Cagle Cartoons Inc.