Sen. John Thune
No one ever said that being a dad was easy. I don’t think it’s supposed to be either. From my perspective, being a father to Brittany and Larissa is probably both the toughest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. And it’s been worth every single minute, which now looking back, they all seem to have flown past me and Kimberley over the years.
The only thing more important to me than being a father is that I’m the best one I can be – that I show up, listen, and love my kids unconditionally. I learned a lot about what it takes to be great dad by watching my own father. In fact, it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be the man and father I am today without his wisdom, strength, and tenacity to always put his family first.
He was a busy guy, just like everyone else in Murdo who worked hard to raise a family and make ends meet. But he was never too busy to spend time with us kids. He was always up for throwing a ball back and forth in our yard, taking us fishing, and attending our afterschool sporting events. He even put a basketball hoop up in the backyard. Sure, it was a dirt court, but there was a light above the hoop, which meant we could shoot baskets well after the sun went down.
Sports was kind of a metaphor for how we lived our lives. Dad and mom were the coaches, and my siblings and I were all on the team. My parents instilled in us the importance of being a part of that team and that you should always have your teammates’ backs. I remember my dad, in particular, was always willing to have those tough down-by-five, get-your-head-in-the-game-type chats with us, but no matter the outcome, he was always proud of what we’d achieved. He still is today.
When I became a “coach” to Brittany and Larissa and my dad took a seat in the bleachers, I relied on many of his parenting techniques. Throughout our journey, Kimberly, Brittany, Larissa, and I have had a lot of good days together – and a few tough ones every now and then. But looking back, I only hope that I’ve made my girls half as proud of me as I am of the women they’ve become.
Now that Brittany and Larissa are both mothers, I’ve retired myself to the bleachers with my dad. We’re still part of the game, don’t get me wrong. But rather than holding a clipboard and whistle, we’ll be snacking on popcorn as we cheer and support our team, which with God’s blessing has continued to grow over the years.With Father’s Day right around the corner, I want to wish the happiest of Father’s Days to my dad Harold, my sons-in-law Luke and Scott, and all of the other dads across South Dakota who, as President Reagan once said, “serve as models and guides for their sons and daughters and help to pass on to the next generation the heritage of our civilization.”