No Problem. I Got This.

It has become cliché, passé, and I am sure at least one or more other words ending in “é”. An obligatory requirement for moms and children, extravagantly inflated from its founding more than a century ago. A Hallmark holiday.

Fathers Day.

On the third Sunday in June every year, millions of dads awaken to the sound of eggs burning, milk spilling, and coffee mugs breaking to take their places on La-Z-Boy thrones, while court jesters shower them with hastily-wrapped painted rock paperweights, camouflaged neckties, and golf balls. The family patriarchs affectionately provide the proper affirmations of “It’s just what I wanted!” and “How did you know?” as they unbox yet another screwdriver set or unfold a pair of “#1 Dad” boxer shorts clearly sized for a silverback gorilla. They kiss the doe-eyed little boys and girls, secretly praying that the little rug rats will not see Pop stealthily stow his gifts in the highest point in his closet, never to be touched again—unless, of course, the house is sold and the family moves.

OK, so maybe there is a hint of sarcasm in that description.

I have been blessed to celebrate ten Fathers Days, and each one has carried a delectable mix of warmth, passion, and absurdity. Yes, some of the gifts I have received from my four children over the course of time carry little, if any, monetary value. And yet they are priceless. The genuine love in my kids’ eyes as they have passed me wrinkled packages with crafts created with popsicle sticks and cotton balls have told me that the wealth of entire countries could not replace the handiwork within.

And then come the cards.

I like to think of myself as sufficiently macho. I can hang a ceiling fan, clean a carburetor, and catch a fish if it is dumb enough to hit my bait. I like football and baseball, and I would rather avoid watching anything where participants wear flowers or tutus. I drive a truck and enjoy shooting loud guns. In short, I am a guy.

And like most guys, I am weakened to a strength consistent with hot Jell-O when I read the heartfelt words of my kids in their own handwriting.

This morning, June 17, 2012, I woke up and entered my typical Sunday ritual in preparation for loading my brood into our somewhat-less-than-macho minivan for our normal trek to church. (In defense of retaining my man card, the minivan does have a Bose sound system.) I was intercepted by my wife and directed toward my recliner, as my children sat quietly (a relative term) on the sofa. Places taken, my bride orchestrated the delivery of each of my kid’s gifts, as he or she sat on my lap and helped me open it. And then my wife went completely sadistic.

She had me read each child’s card out loud.

Up first were the works of my oldest two boys. No problem. I got this. I had to blink a little bit as I read Nash’s writing: “My Dad has taught me…most everything I know.” And I swallowed hard trying to make a lump go down as I looked at Quaid’s illustration of his favorite memory with me: a cold, wet experience on a water ride at Universal Studios in Orlando. Composure mostly intact, I was halfway through.

No problem. I got this.

Then Duffy, armed with a card adorned with a crayon-colored picture of a necktie, jumped into my lap. My vision blurred for some reason as I stared at his inked footprint opposite a poem. And, darn it all, an acute case of laryngitis overtook me as I read the second stanza:
Sometimes your steps are very fast,
Sometimes they’re hard to see;
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
For you are leading me.
It took some time, and a few big gulps of water, but I made it through his, as well. Three-quarters of the way there and still standing.

No problem. I got this.

Finally my princess handed me a crumpled bag addressed to “The Most POP!ular Guy in the World”, along with her own card: her thoughts on my favorite food, hobbies, sports, etc. And then I lost it completely as I read her completion of the statement, “I love my Dad because…”

“I am his girl.”

I literally could feel my heart melt away all the way down to my toes.

Macho or not, I would like to think that I belong to the majority of devoted fathers out there who find themselves in an ongoing battle to cope with the maturing of their own children, desperately clawing and grasping to bottle and store the innocence they carry. Alone, we are able to dismiss the passing of time as it relates to ourselves. But with each year, we recognize that we are one step closer to facing that day when we have to set our little birds free to fly on their own. And secretly we pray with every fiber of our being that our kids will say truthfully, “I am his girl,” or “I am his boy,” when they are six or thirty-six years old. Macho or not, we are human, outfitted with breakable hearts.

Fathers Day has taken on a new dimension in the past few years for us. Obviously, the emotion of watching my own kids grow is a big deal to me. Furthermore, though, this year marked the third Fathers Day that my wife has celebrated with her own daddy looking down from heaven. Though his healing is complete, it still hurts like hell to see the heartbreak in her eyes, despite joy poking through as she thanks God for what we have in our little girl and three boys. And I, manly man that I am, have now begun to really appreciate the treasure I unwrap in each gift from my kids. Questions lingering in my mind for years are slowly being answered.

We recently took what has become an all-too-rare trip over to visit my folks. While there, I had to go into my parents’ closet to grab a stepstool, and I happened to see, high on one of the shelves, a wood block with a cut-out poem glued to the face—a Fathers Day gift to my own dad some thirty years ago. It wasn’t the first time I had noticed it. But it was the first time that I didn’t ponder why he had kept it for so long. I am certain that he, like the boy he raised into a man, once opened that gift and heard my voice echoing, “I am his boy.”

At best, we have maybe eighteen to twenty years to answer the call from God to raise up our children in the way that He would want them raised. He never promised it would be easy, nor did He imply that the task would not be emotionally exhausting. But it is our job. Our Father above, like us fathers down here on earth, desires only one statement from us…and from our children: “I am His.” And He gave us His assurance that He will carry us there, so long as we submit completely to Him. Macho or not, I know I cannot handle bringing up my four without His leading.

No problem. I got this.

Happy Fathers Day!


  1. Wow! What a wonderful tribute! I got a little misty reading it.

  2. Here's to all the macho dads out there!


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