I remember how happy the game of basketball made me as a kid. The exhilarating feeling when you score a basket, the intense competition, the high fives from teammates and coaches, and so much more. The one missing piece for me in all of it was the presence of my dad in the stands. My parents divorced when I was 3 or 4 years old, and my dad was not in my life. I don’t recall a time when my dad and mom were together or when my dad lived with our family. As a young athlete, I recall hearing the cheers of fathers and seeing fathers coaching their sons during the games, and it was something I always desired.
My mom was at almost every game. She found a way to make it to all my games while working multiple jobs to support our family. I am truly grateful for her love and support. With that said, I noticed there was something different about the kids that had their fathers present. They seemed to exude a level of confidence and joy that I felt like I couldn’t get myself to.
The two guys I measured myself against on the basketball court both had present fathers who actively supported and coached them during games. I couldn’t help but feel that if I had the same, I could be as good as they were at basketball, and I could have enjoyed the game so much more if I had a dad to share it with. These were deep thoughts for a 10-year-old boy to process, but I vividly remember struggling with these feelings. From that point to now, even into adulthood, the game of basketball changed to the game of real life. It was through my experience that I’ve always known the major impact and importance of a father figure in a child’s life.
I’ve been blessed with 6 amazing children of my own. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world to share life with these little people who think the world of you. I’ve used my experience with an absent father to help shape the kind of father I want to be to my children. That leads me to the word present. Not just the physical kind of presence, but the kind of presence that comes from a deep relationship; cheering from the stands, laughing together until your bellies hurt, holding their hair while they vomit, and wiping away tears when they’re sad. The kind of presence that comes with long walks, weekend camping trips, long days on the water to fish, teaching them to roll over for the first time, to crawl, to stand, to walk, to ride a bike, to go potty, to talk, to read, and to write. The kind of presence that births sharing your passions with them and seeing their passions birthed within them and being there to share it with them.
Life can easily get in the way of the kind of presence that I am referencing. One has to be disciplined and purposeful to accomplish this. When I feel myself falling short, I remind myself of 10-year-old Seborn. What that young boy needed was a present father and I know that’s exactly what my kids need from me. So, a celebration of fatherhood to me is a day to be fully present with my children. I don’t want a day off from being a dad. I want nothing more than an uninterrupted time to be together.
One thing that we have done over the years on Father’s Day is doing camping trips with just myself and the kids. We’ve done this at a campsite or even in the backyard by just pitching a tent. Time outdoors, conversation over a fire while eating smores, and sleeping under the stars will develop core memories for the kids. It has been my favorite Father’s Day tradition. Another way we have celebrated and fostered the uninterrupted time is by enjoying a full day at home: eating a favorite meal, reading a favorite book, video games, board games, and goofing around until we laugh uncontrollably.
I want this time with my kids on Father’s Day and on the days throughout the year because I know when they reflect on their childhood, they’ll be able to see how the presence of their father made a huge impact in shaping who they are. To me, it is the ultimate reason for the celebration. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads! Keep pushing and keep striving to be present in the lives of your children. Trust me, even if they don’t say it, they appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.