I am a sports fan through and through, admittedly not a huge golf fan, and listen to Mike and Mike every morning amongst other sports and comedy podcasts on a daily basis. A few weeks back, there was a huge story that I didn’t really understand why so much was made of it. A famous golfer, Phil Mickelson who has won a lot of Major tournaments but never won the US Open, was stepping out of that particular tournament in 2017 because it fell on his daughter’s High School graduation. If that was the end of the story, it wouldn’t be surprising to me as a dad but there was so much more. His daughter was the valedictorian of her class and was giving the commencement speech in front of her peers. I believe that there would be so much more of a story if he decided to skip that for a golf event. Every good dad that I know would have made that decision any day of the week without really thinking twice about it.
I had hoped that some of the talking heads would let this story go away and stop trying to make Mickelson feel bad for missing a chance at making golf history; it seemed to just linger. The scary part was that some of the sports people were fathers and still didn’t seem to understand his family first attitude. A few days ago I heard Mickelson on Mike and Mike for an interview and this topic came up. Both Mike and Mike understood his position but he put it into perspective saying that being a dad is the most important job that he has and the most important part of being a dad is just showing up.
I had to rewind and listen to it again; it had such a ring of truth. Ed O’Neill’s character in Modern Family has said the same thing before, no matter what is going on, a father has to show up because so many don’t. I have been lucky enough to be around a bunch of good dads that always showed up, I can’t remember a soccer game as a kid that both of my parents didn’t attend, from 5 years old all the way up through high school. My dad didn’t know anything about soccer when I was young but with my mom having been born in England, it was in her blood. He couldn’t coach me and didn’t often practice with me and likely didn’t understand much of the rules when I was young, but he was always there and cheering me on. Many times when I was refereeing a big game, both of my parents were there to support me. This did not go unnoticed as I could see many of the parents did not show up.
When my contract was coming time to expire in the Navy in 2015, my wife and I were faced with a big decision. Re-enlist my services for 6 more years and go right back to a ship likely to deploy abut have stable employment and great benefits or take my chances on the job market but would be home more. This was a no-brainer and I took that leap. Though I enjoyed and was challenged by my job, I still couldn’t coach my son’s soccer team because I was travelling so often. It was great experience but I had to move on for my family. I am now working a job that has regular hours on regular days and though a commute to DC is never ideal, I know that I can show up for my kids. They went on a field trip to the zoo and I showed up, they needed volunteers for career day and I showed up, there was a dance recital and I showed up; most importantly when I get home from work, I am there for them to play with and talk to and just be with.
New dads can get freaked out with all of the added responsibilities and the fear of the unknown. I have my own stance on advice that I don’t usually like to give it or receive it in the traditional sense, I like to share experiences and their effects along with things I might have changed and let them pull their own conclusions, but in this case I’m willing to give the advice. JUST SHOW UP! Even if you think you can’t add any value or they won’t know if you’re there, trust me they will know and remember the influence that you have just by showing up and being there for them. My kids are everything to me and I want them to know that and hopefully do the same for their kids in the future. We all have the stress of the real world and many times it can be overwhelming, but kids do not understand that and only understand what is happening in their little bubble and us parents need to be very prevalent inside that bubble. No two situations are the same, but do what you can to show up for them in their lives for as much as you can, no matter how miniscule the events may seem to you, they may be everything to them.
Stay strong and show up for those kids!