Daddin': The Verb of Being a Dad

Inspired by the book, by Dion McInnis

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Kitchen Raids

Our schedules are not the same, but somehow the rhythm of them work together well.  I harken back to sophomore physics class in high school when I learned about wave patterns and how they build on each other or level each other out.  My 24-year old’s schedule and mine must complement each other, because we both have busy patterns that result in a calm, even, relaxed, joyful household.

When he returns home very late at night, long after I have gone to sleep and only a few hours before I wake up well before dawn, he leaves signals of his status.  If I hear nothing, he has probably gone straight from re-setting the alarm to bed.  If I hear the microwave, it means he is hungry and needs refueling before sleep.  If I see lights going off and on, he is moving from room to room, taking care of odds and ends tasks before hitting the hay.  Sometime exhaustion precludes me from sensing those things, but the morning evidence reveals much.

This morning, like many mornings, I first noticed the microwave door was open.  The low-wattage bulb barely lit the kitchen as the open door kept the light burning.  Clearly, heating food was part of his actions when he returned home. The plate on the counter had chicken bones (leftover fried chicken never lasts long in our house), as well as barely discernible traces of leftover mashed potatoes and cooked carrot coins. He must have had a hearty appetite when he got home!

I smile as I close the microwave door and rinse the dishes for the dishwasher.  I notice the box of leftover pizza is empty, only to find out shortly thereafter that he took the three pieces and put them in a storage bag for safe keeping in the refrigerator.  I suspect the pizza was either lunch today or will be dinner tonight.

I enjoy watching him grow as a man and in all the roles involved.  The tell-tale signs are everywhere, ranging from dirty plates to bags of boating or fishing gear, to fishing magazines and school books, from shoes in every room to the work uniform he wears as an operations manager.  I feel like an archaeologist, discovering my son’s life in the things I find.  It’s a good role, that.  When our schedules don’t allow for the overlap we enjoy for conversations, I learn by looking and listening.

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A Lost Habit

Good habits are hard to create and maintain; bad habits seem to hang on quite easily.

I was in the habit of writing about life as dad, with recollections about the moments that comprise daddin’.  Then I published the book in 2010 and a lot of detours, bumps and curves came around.  I found it is harder to write about being a dad when there aren’t daily dad happenings.  Shame on me, because every day I am still dad, and now granddad to four granddaughters and a grandson on the way.

Watching from a distance as the little ones grow is certainly different than seeing my sons grow every day.  Also different is observing the growth of men, though I could not be more proud of how the three have grown as men, brothers, dads (two of them), spouses (two of them), productive men of integrity and values. I think back to the letter that comprised most of last chapter of the book — it was to my first granddaughter, and the first copy of the book arrived 48 hours before her birth — and how it described my sons and the type of men they were and were becoming.  Six years later, it is clear they are all those things and more.

I have lost the habit of writing about dad moments, and that is a loss to me, my sons and my grandchildren.  There are reasons — many that I can think of — that have nothing to do with being a dad that redirected my habit.

Good old habits that have been lost can be re-learned.  If you haven’t learned the habit of writing about being a parent or guardian, learn now; if you learned it and lost it, regain it.  Treasures reside in the letters, words, sentences and paragraphs.