By: Paul Maulsby
1. You finally know how your dad felt about you and being a stock show dad
Some stock show families have a pedigree that traces back for generations, while others may be newbies to the stock show world. Regardless of the circumstances of your childhood, the moment you go from being just a guy, just the kid that showed, or just the fitter, to being a father, you “get it.” That is the feeling of what it is to love something more than life itself. I recall how my view of my father transformed in an instant. For I knew, no matter what he ever did or said, he too had felt “this” for me, and my sisters. It’s not an optional feeling it just happens! The dreams you have for your children and the things you want to share with them run through your head the moment they are born. For me, I knew that sharing the experience of showing livestock with my kids was something that was going to happen. I wanted to be a stock show dad!
2. You know what it means to love something more than yourself.
Let’s face it, for all guys who say they sacrifice and profess to “drop everything” for whatever when they are young and single have no idea what that means until they have their own child. From the moment I showed at my last junior show, I started helping other families and kids with their own show projects. Many of these kids have become like family members, and with each win and loss they had, I felt great pride. I felt like because of this experience I got what it was like to “drop everything,” but then I had my own kids. I have to admit that when my own kids hit the show ring for the first time it was a different feeling. One of enormous pride and anticipation to a level I can not compare. I suddenly became “that dad,” the one that was on the edge of the ring, on pins and needles with every pull the judge made, hoping and praying we won the class, and I didn’t care how foolish I looked on the edge of the rail.
3. Whatever your age, kids make you young again.
If you’re a father you get this—if you’re not there yet, trust me on this. It’s so true. Your kid’s energy does not wait on you. You get moving whether you want to or not. And they keep you playing more and seeing the excitement of things that you typically take for granted. To watch my daughter’s excitement when I brought a new heifer or steer home was priceless. To find myself in the middle of water fights on the wash rack in my forties is the best, and to have every embarrassing and humorous moment in the show barn on snapchat and social media is something I had to get used to, but secretly cherish. I love being a part of their lives and sharing all the moments.
4. Being a dad makes you a better man.
I think we all like having the opportunity to be a mentor, to help someone learn and grow. It’s inherent in our DNA. And being a father is the ultimate mentoring opportunity, you get to truly shape a life. When you realize your kids are learning from and watching what you do. Things like where you go, how you get there, who you hang around, etc. Being involved in stock shows create this amazing extended family that is hard to explain. I think it all matters, but what matters most is the man you are and being a great stock show dad to your own and others which is a great honor and responsibility.
5. Being a father softens your heart and opens you to life.
No matter how focused you’ve been on getting ahead on your career or how hard you may work with your kids to win a show—or how hardened your resolve from your own life circumstances, being a father will melt your heart. As I have ended my own daughters show career with lots of miles traveled and the good fortune of numerous banners and backdrop pictures on the wall, I look back with lots of great memories of my show dad career. I can’t help but smile as I scan Facebook and see the young men that helped our family during my kids show career become dads themselves. They proudly post pictures of their kids and have captions saying, “I can’t wait for them to show.” I will be there cheering their kids on and reminding them to cherish the time and responsibility of being a great stock show dad.