What do fathers do better than anything else?
My dad Paul taught me how to play GAMES, especially softball and basketball.
I was pretty average at basketball (couldn't make a basket to save my life!), but I had a talent for softball. My dad picked up on this and nurtured my gift.
He was my coach, and he was the best. Playing softball on his team is one of my absolute favorite memories of childhood growing up in Marietta, Georgia. All the girls loved being on his team because he was positive, kind, fair and didn't yell when we made a mistake or lost.
He knew I had the ability to stay calm under pressure and hit a target consistently. So he suggested I become a pitcher.
He’d bring a silver metallic bucket to every softball practice and while he was coaching the other girls in fielding, I was off with our catcher pitching ball after ball after ball, trying to hit that metal bucket. When I did, he’d shout, “hit the bucket” and all the girls would cheer.
I can still pitch today. This came in handy when I worked in New York City and played for my company softball teams. The guys (on my team and the opposing team) couldn’t believe it when they’d see me pitch. They didn’t know what hit ‘em.
My dad taught me how to do my best, always.
He taught me how to win with guts and lose with grace.
He taught me the power of practice.
I’ll never forget how my heart was broken the first year I was playing at a higher level in softball and it was time for All-Star selections. My dad chose the All-Stars from our team. It was his job to announce the selections in front of our entire team at the end of the season.
I wanted to get picked so bad, but deep down I knew that I wasn’t as good as some of the other girls on the team, some of them older and more experienced than me.
I wondered if my dad would pick me anyway because I was his daughter and he could. When he said the names of the All-Stars and my name wasn’t on that list, I felt like I had been hit in my stomach. I was so upset! I went to our station wagon by myself and cried my eyes out in that big back section of the car.
But my dad did the right thing. I wasn’t an All-Star that year. So you know what I did until next season? I practiced my little tail off! I became a better hitter, a better pitcher and more confident all-around player.
The next year I was named an All-Star, and I had truly earned it.
I’ll always be grateful to my dad for teaching me the power of going after what I want, even if I didn’t get picked the first time around.
Another thing I’m grateful for? This is a big one. My dad helped me meet my husband Steven.
In 2003, I was nursing a breakup. My heart was broken in a million little pieces after the mutual ending of a 2-year relationship that had potential to go “all the way.”
I felt so defeated, so frustrated, so alone. My family lives in the South. At that time, I was living in New York City pursing a fast-paced career in public relations.
So I asked my dad for some tips on finding a romantic partner who would be a good match for me. After he and my mom divorced, he remarried my stepmother and they had been married for quite some time so I figured he may know a thing or two about love and commitment.
“Dad, who am I looking for? Where is he? I'm ready.”
My dad wisely said, “Jenny, find a man who shares your values, goals and faith.”
That stuck with me.
A few months later, I met the man who would become my husband, best friend and father of our 3 children. Steven shares my love of adventure, family and living the good life.
What’s funny is that at the start of our romance and marriage, Steven and I didn’t know if we wanted to ever have children. We were more interested in our work and exploring the world. We had a ball … and still do especially now because our adventures are in a minivan (which I swore I’d never own!) with our entire family of 5.
Yes, those babies came calling and we said YES (even though we were scared).
Just like my dad, my husband does PLAY very well, like a pro. He’s literally a professional player with our kids.
Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, swimming, biking, skiing, hiking, fishing, painting, board games, card games, tennis.
You name it, he’s game … and so are our children.
I’ve learned a lot from my dad and my husband about the power of PLAY.
For recovering Type A moms like myself especially, these players are a fantastic reminder to get off the hamster wheel and PLAY.
The to-do list can wait.
Your kids won’t be young forever.
They won’t always ask you to play Monopoly or Legos or tag or catch. They won’t always ask you to pitch a tent in your living room. They won't always ask you to go swimming.
Join the rest of your family and embrace this mentality:
The dads are on to something …