Daddin': The Verb of Being a Dad

Inspired by the book, by Dion McInnis

What’s Daddin’ about?

At a recent presentation to the Association of Business and Professional Women, I was asked about Daddin’.  I used the opportunity to explain and read the last chapter which is essentially a love letter to my first granddaughter who had not yet been born at the time I was writing the book.


They Never Fully Grow Up

My youngest son is 22 years old and tomorrow he interviews for a promotion at his workplace.  If the interview is successful, he will become the operations manager for a multi-million-dollar sales outlet.  All the while, he maintains his school, fishing, social life and relationship.  He’s juggling the elements of a man’s life.  I am fortunate to witness the growth, just as I have in various ways for his brothers as they have grown into the men they are, and the men they will be.  But they never fully grow up…thank goodness.

Today was grocery shopping day.  As he headed out this morning, I asked him to add to the list that we keep on the refrigerator any specific items that he wanted to be sure that I purchased on my evening run to the neighborhood Kroger.  As I left the house hours later, I took the list from the white note pad without giving it any attention.  I folded it around a small stack of coupons and headed out the door.

After perusing the produce department, I paused at the meat case to scan over the list to keep me on track for the evening’s shopping.  Many of the items are hastily written, so reading the list is sometimes a study in cryptography. Tonight was no different, except for the two items in his handwriting.  Clear as day, were his items:  pizza and Cap’n Crunch Cereal.  I held the list, chuckled and shook my head.  Inside the man is still some boy, and I hope it stays that way forever.

Later, I shared the observation of the list with him, complete with the context described above.  He laughed, “I guess my tastes haven’t caught up with the rest of me,” he said with a broad smile.

There’s nothing like daddin’.

To Breathe Is To See; To See Is To Listen

Inhale.  Exhale.  One breath at a time.  Each day, each moment.  If you have lost your breath, catch it. Then see anew.

With lungs full of air, I am enjoying the view of my sons at their respective ages of 33, 29 and 22.  (I also enjoy the view of the three granddaughters, 4, 1 and 1, but today’s message is about daddin’, not granddaddin’). I had been airless for quite a while; it is not a condition that I recommend staying in for very long.  They have a term for that!

Keeping abreast of my sons is a combination of watching Facebook, talking on the phone and conversations when paths cross; the oldest uses Facebook as if on a mission and his siblings reject the medium completely; the middle son places phone calls several times a week as part of his drive home from work and on weekends; and, the youngest lives with me so our paths cross when his crazy schedule (work, school and fishing) overlaps with my crazy schedule.  Of course, there is a mix of calls, emails and face-to-face for the scattered crew of three.  One of the verbs/chapters of the Daddin’ book is about listening, and the process is still as rewarding and valuable now with three men as it was then with three boys.  It is an honor and a gift to be able to “listen in” on their lives through whatever channels are afforded me.

Of course, all the verbs work together…listening leads to growing and playing, and all those things involve learning, and every breath involves loving.  (Those are some of the chapters of the book for those of you who have not read it).

No matter what verb we’re talking about, or what story I am hearing, or questions I am trying to answer, or….  it is living.  Living.  Each day, each moment, with lungs full of air.

The boys are men (though there is, and always will be, a bit of boy left in them), their lives are changing, their dreams are developing and in each opportunity to witness their lives I know in my heart that they are living and loving.  It doesn’t get much better than that.


And after about nine months

Where has the time gone for posting?  Life has happened, changes were needed in my job and now I am on a new adventure.  Amidst all the changes, one thing is for certain and it is the thing that has not ever changed.  There is no “job” like being a dad.  Just letting it soak in is cause for tears, and now that I have my feet back underneath me I intend to spend more time recording those feelings and stories, not unlike the years of doing so that led to the Daddin’ book.

Interestingly, the topic of daddin’ has come up quite a lot lately in various lunch meetings, random conversations and such.  My middle son texted me the other day to draw my attention to Pope Francis’ call for dads to be more involved in their kids’ lives.  I spent the entire day reaching out to various media outlets to share the daddin’ verb as it is exactly what the Pope called for.  The text message was all the more meaningful because he is a dad, too, with his daughter about to turn one.

I shared the concept with a woman at a recent Rotary lunch and tears welled in her eyes; I shared the concept of dads and their verb with a preacher’s mom and she was immediately drawn in to the message and the need to recognize dads and their important roles; and, I received a call a week or so ago with a request that I do a radio interview about being a dad…in 15 seconds.  Once the interview was over, I was told that the “interviewers” were part of the Howard Stern show.  My answers were genuine and not theatrical, so I imagine my episode won’t ever be saved on his record of shows.  Truth be told, I was proud of that interview…being pushed into a corner to provide counterpoints to absurd positions led me to a position of grace (I can’t think of any other term for me) to speak with nothing but love for the role of being a dad.  And now granddad.

I have been a granddad for four years now, and when May rolls around I will be the granddad to four little girls.

Part of the changes made over the last nine months (leaving my job of 13 years and a career path of 27 years) had to do with those little girls and their dads.  I was not happy with what that path was doing to the man that is their dad and granddad, and I could not abide them getting anything less than the real me.  I knew that changes were required before the damage became too great.  And all of that has been part of the drive to adjust, adjust, adjust my course until I got on the path of Empowered Creativity Institute, my new business.  All of it, ALL of the changes have been directed to getting back to the real me and helping others find their authentic selves.  What does that have with daddin’?  Everything. Every single verb of it.

As I regained my sense of Self, I would sometimes open the Daddin’ book to a random page to be reminded of the verbs (chapters) and the stories.  Life as dad is balance for me, and now I am again steadied to be fully granddad, too.

My journal has many entries of “Remember this story…” followed by a few cryptic notes.  And therein resides the message for this posting:  “Remember this story….” no matter how you can considering all else going on in life.  Remember them, record them, share them and make them part of your family story.

Watching my sons as they live their lives as men, spouses, sons…and fathers, (spouses and dads for two of them!) certainly fits all the chapters of daddin’, i.e., all the verbs of being a dad as outlined in the book:  havin’, learnin’, listenin’, lovin’, playin’, fishin’, growin’, leavin’, livin’.  Every moment is a blessing.

These two poems stand next to each other in the introduction of the book:

To call out to you, to many, to all
The joy of being
Father, dad, pop
To these three.


I have no more control over this
Than over my heart beating or
My lungs taking in breath.
My boy comes into my view
And I smile
And swell with pride and love.

Those thoughts and reactions are as real today as they ever were, and continues with each day as I hear their stories about their jobs, wives, significant others, friends, children, journeys, wonderments…all the things that comprise the lives of young men.  Two are married, and one is not; all are good men.  I don’t pretend to think they are perfect, but they follow well the message on my dad’s gravestone:  “He has left for us a most noble pattern.”  My sons are on noble paths.  The granddaughters are on wonderful paths, too, even at the sweet ages of 4, 1 and 1.

I am a nostalgic type.  I reminisce about being young and about having young ones around me.  There is much about raising the boys that I miss, sometimes desperately.  But, standing on more solid ground, I see that those times are the seeds of what is to come.

I will catch up on more of the stories in future posts and will spend more time in my journal, too.  I am back…as me, as dad and as granddad.  You need you, your children need you, and your grandchildren need you…to be….YOU.  Give yourself, your kids and your grandchildren the best possible you.

A Recent Interview/Review

I am pleased and proud to present you this most recent interview/review on the book, Daddin’:  The Verb of Being a Dad.

Three and Three

Part of my description of Daddin’:  The Verb of Being a Dad is “stories, poetry and journal entries of being son to a father and father to three sons.”   My dad reminded me that having a daughter changes things and perspectives of being a dad, and I have often said that God knew what he was doing by giving me three sons.  I don’t believe that I would have been a bad dad for a  daughter, but I do believe that things worked out as they were supposed to.  But now the score is even, and I can’t stop smiling.  And my heart continues to grow.

On February 13, my middle son (Justin) and his wife (Roxie) welcomed Emmie  to the world, joining her cousins Lillian and Heidi (daughters to Dion and Candice).  I am now granddad to three granddaughters.  That makes six pinky fingers around which I am already wrapped.

Already I see in the two sons with children that they enjoy and will take great pleasure and joy in being a dad.  I see it in how they respond to their children and their wives.  And I smile.  And my heart continues to grow.  The youngest of the brothers (Cameron) already shows the signs, and when the right time appears for marriage and children, he, too, will be a loving member of the daddin’ world.

As we all waited at the hospital through the long labor and then C-section, I could not help but notice the dynamics:  three brothers–one attending to his wife, and the other two in the waiting room; the two granddaughters sleeping and playing (one is three years old and the other three months old); and, that above all things this growing family shows love and support…and joy.  I feel confident that things will remain that way.  And that makes me proud as a dad.

Whether I was playing with Lillian or holding Heidi or holding the newest arrival, Emmie, I knew that life will continue to be about the verbs of daddin’ and granddaddin’, and not just the nouns of the role.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  There is much to do and I am looking forward to each moment.

Feeling happy and goofy

My oldest son–now a dad with two daughters–posted on his Facebook page that his oldest (now three) said, “Daddy, you make me feel happy and goofy,” or something very close to that.  After he quoted her, he said that his Father’s Day gift was taken care of…five months early.  Father’s Day is every day.

He and his two brothers provided me some sort of Father’s Day every day with things ranging from art (like the  many examples in the Daddin’ book) to adventures to a sweet smile to a hearty laugh.

I have stated many times that being a parent is a “catch and release,” process, but it is also a time machine with time warps and “worm holes” that move us from one universe to another, from one time frame to another.

Almost any time that I interact with my sons–now aged 32, 28 and 21–I have the opportunity to feel happy and goofy, too.  Whether it is their stories (of joys and sorrows), their humor or their willingness to share, I find myself smiling, feeling younger and sometimes goofy.  Sometimes I open my book to simply be reminded of all the times from “back then,” and then to smile because the fun continues.

No matter what life brings, it seems that my sons help me feel happy and goofy.  We can do it for our kids, and they can do it for us.

Radio Interview About Daddin’

This interview recently posted on web radio.  The topic was my Daddin’ book and the greatest “man job” out there—being a dad.  I enjoyed the interview, and hope you do, too.  I smiled when I listened to it, and I hope you do, too.


The Perfect Answer

My granddaughter is brilliant.  Ok, so is yours, but I have to smile at a recent interaction and the perfection of the short dialog.

It has been too long since I held her in my arms, so I was relishing the moment the other day when she leaned back and looked at my hair.

“What color your hair?” the two and one-half year old queried.

“Oh, sweetie, that is gray,” I said.

She smiled.  “And black,” she added.

The years have brought much gray, and I am proud to say that I have earned every single strand.  But her comment was more clarifying than she knows, but such is the wisdom of youth.

As I access the wisdom and perspectives of my sons (31, 27 and 20), and reflect on the insights they have shared over the years, I am now able to access new truth again, in the sweet voice of a young girl not yet three who carries at least some of my DNA.  And so the process continues.

A Book “Review”

I had a book reading this morning at a local Rotary Club, sharing stories and poetry from Daddin’.  As I signed books for some of the attendees, I was pleased to sign three for one man:  one for his son, and one for each of his two sons in-law.  I said, “I hope they enjoy them.”  The man replied, “I am sure they will.  I sure enjoyed mine.”

And I smiled.

I have always hoped that by being as genuine as I can for my sons, they will turn out being better men than me as a pattern of growth for McInnis men.  Dad’s tombstone reads “He has left for us a most noble pattern,” and that is the best any of us can do for those who follow.  Now the book plays a role, I hope.

The book is honest, if nothing else, as it shares the various perspectives of sonhood and fatherhood.  My greatest hope is that it makes a difference first, and then perhaps some enjoyment, too.  Today’s “customer” tells me that perhaps I am on the right path in helping others see the joy of the greatest “job” around…being a parent…a dad.