Daddin': The Verb of Being a Dad

Inspired by the book, by Dion McInnis

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.

And

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.

The Charlie Brown Tree

Christmas is tough.  I’m not alone in that.  This year was still a bit bumpy in terms of holiday spirit, but little granddaughter is helping.  And so did the Charlie Brown Tree.

My mom used to say that Christmas was for kids.  Clearly, she meant the holiday not the holy day.  And she was right.  This year, my first as a dad with no more teenagers was also my first as a granddad with a grandchild old enough to understand something was going on.  She is two; my youngest son is 20.  This Christmas provided an interesting confluence of losing and gaining a sense of holiday at the same time.  And lo and behold, the Christmas tree made a difference.

I didn’t have a tree at the house.  Just stockings hung by the chimney with care, each bearing a name:  one for each of the boys, for the dogs, for the daughters in-law, and granddaughter.  A few decorations on the mantel rounded out the festive feel, and Christmas was celebrated at my house on December 23.  I love “deepaw Christmas” because I get to smoke meats (way too much) and have everyone around for eating, talking and laughing.  On December 26, we all met at my new property in the woods.  Before little one could arrive, Santa put bows and ornaments on a small pine tree.  My frozen fingers felt like it was “job well done,” but when I looked at it later….well, it looked like Charlie’s tree.  And I recalled the time that mom and dad were going to forego a tree and then decided to buy one at nearly the last minute.  The nearly bare, tilting tree made us all laugh and mom vowed to never delay like that again. The look of the tree, the fond memories, the new memories being made (I also gave her this year a recordable book of The Charlie Brown Christmas) made for a special moment.  The tree will stay decorated on the property for as long as its decorations hold on.  And future grandchildren will get their trees, too.  Christmas holidays may be coming back as part of daddin’.

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Futures

I had the privilege of providing a book reading and presentation on my book Daddin’ to the La Porte Book Club the other day.  Having to fight back tears at times as I provided context for the poetry and stories that I read, I was constantly reminded that the best job that I have ever had is that of being a dad.  Most of the attendees did not worry about the holding back their tears.

There are rewarding times all along the way providing me stories for books, name for a boat (Memory Maker), and an ever-present sense of purpose.

As I write this, all three of the boys are doing things they love with people that matter to them.  One is working the bonfire project at Texas A&M, another is preparing sausage from the harvest of yesterday’s deer hunt, and another is fishing.  Their lives are full of passion, zeal, and reasonable expectations.  Every time I talk to them or watch them or listen to them, I feel good about their futures.  Add to that the budding life of the first grandchild and a simple truth confronts me:  being a dad is about futures.

The Edge of the Nest

The sight is familiar:  the young one stands at the edge of the nest, knowing in its heart and mind that the time to fly has arrived.  He spreads his wings and feels the air move across their surfaces, causing a natural lift.  What he wants to do—fly—is his call and comes naturally.  I see it in my 20-year old.  I’ve seen it before in his brothers, but this time it is different—he is the last from this nest.

All the signals are there; likewise, so too are the appearances of the wind moving across his wings, causing a lift that is both encouraging and scary.  He continues to grow as a young man:  a fisherman, student, employee, friend, son, brother and more.  The growth continues, the wind continues to blow.  Before him is the short distance down and the limitless horizons in front of him.  The risk of falling a bit is far outweighed by the chance to soar with few limits.