Last May, my dad came out for a visit for Grandparents’ Day at my kids’ school. As a fun bonus, it just happened to coincide with my two girls’ dance recital weekend. When I first asked my dad if he might want to come for this jam-packed extended weekend that would be full of school activities, soccer games, and dance performances, I thought, “He’s an eight hour drive away, I probably shouldn’t even ask.”
But I did ask, and he said, “Of course! I can come for that.” I should have known that would be his answer. This May, he came and did it all again.
While we were sitting waiting for the dance recital to start, a mom in front of us was groaning about how many hours she’d spend watching dance recitals that weekend, since the studio had multiple shows and her daughter was in all of them. My dad leaned forward and said, “I’ve got two daughters and we did 12 years of dance. Now my granddaughters are dancing.” She said, “Wow! Just wow. You’ve got me beat for sure!”
He laughed and said, “It’s just what you do–you show up.”
This quiet little exchange made me think about all that 12 years of dance meant. All the times that my dad drove us to dance classes. The lessons, costumes, shoes, and competition fees my parents paid for even when the budget was tight. All the recitals that I’m sure he didn’t really want to go to. But he was there for all of it. That’s a lot of “showing up.”
And now he was here, beaming at my little girls, giving them hugs and telling them how amazing they were on stage, just like he did when I was a little girl. And he even drove eight hours for the privilege of showing up for them.
With his few words to that younger parent, he summed up what it means to be a good dad or mom. You show up for your kids. For all of it. Even if you don’t love every moment of it. You do it because you love them.
When we show up for everything, parents send a powerful message to their kids about how much they are loved.
My dad showed me that he was there for me, no matter what, even when it was hard. That taught me what kind of parent I wanted to be for my own kids and what kind of a person I wanted to have as a partner in life and in parenting. My husband and I are in the thick of our “showing up” years now, doing our best to make sure our kids are getting all those same great messages from us.
Thinking about all of this, and in honor of Father’s Day, I have a special message for all the dads who show up for everything, even when it’s hard or not where you want to be.
To all the dads who come to sports games, dance recitals, band concerts, or whatever else their kids are into, and always cheer their kids on–THANK YOU.
To all the dads who spend time helping their kids with their homework in the evenings and show up to parent-teacher conferences–THANK YOU.
To all the dads who drive to practices of all kinds and pick up the neighborhood kids on carpool night–THANK YOU.
To all the dads who put band-aids on scraped knees or hold their kids while they cry–THANK YOU.
To all the dads who read bedtime stories, tuck their kids in bed at night, give their kids the best hugs and always make their kids feel safe–THANK YOU.
To all the dads who take off work to stay home with their sick kids–THANK YOU.
To all the dads who drop what they are doing and come when their kids need their parents the most–THANK YOU.
To my dad, who did all these things for me–THANK YOU.
To my husband, who does so much for our kids every day–THANK YOU.
Happy Father’s Day, Dads!