I'm seriously gonna do it...


I wasn’t supposed to be a father.

No, really, I’m being serious. Being a dad was not supposed to happen to me. Said the guy with four kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I did want children. I actually wanted kids pretty darn badly. To be honest, I wanted to be a father more than I wanted to get married. Obviously, that presented a wee bit of a problem. Go ahead, call me conservative.

Quite an awkward position in which to find yourself, if I do say so myself. How many bachelors in their mid-20’s do you know that daydream about diaper changes, late night feedings, and colic? Not many, I tell you, particularly when said bachelor is not a real magician on the singles scene.

OK, so maybe that is not exactly how my dreams of fatherhood presented themselves, but you get the point. I knew without a doubt that I would be a good dad. I could see it so clearly. I had spent two and a half decades in preparation. The breadth and depth of paternal wisdom that I was so ready to impart was overwhelming. That son of mine yet-to-be-formed would learn so much from his dad: the safe way to change a tire, the proper shoulder position of a pellet rifle, and the irreparable damage caused to the American League by the designated hitter. He would learn how to emphasize a punch line to guarantee a laugh and how to mow a straight line. He would have a world of knowledge awaiting him.

To be fair, I had a contingency for a daughter, too. Such precious angels aren’t called daddy’s girls for nothing. My daughter would learn from her old man that no suitor was too good for her. She would know that her beauty was not found in her clothes or her makeup or her hairstyle. I would teach her how to tie her shoes, how to drive a stick shift, and how to set the hook on a largemouth bass. I would also make sure she knew the more “sensitive” targets on the male anatomy, just in case some less-than-noble sack of testosterone might want to cross that well-defined line.

Yeah, my kids were going to have one heck of a dad. Save for one minor hurdle. In the absence of one heck of a mom to pair with this heck of a dad, my dreams of fatherhood were simply vapors in the wind.

For the uninformed, engineers typically do not make it into the Top 10 list of targets for single women. Wait, I take that back. Engineers are quite often the first contact when a Camry needs a new set of brake pads, the house A/C refuses to come on, or a niece needs help on her calculus homework. They are not, however, sought after as suitable companions for a dream date. And they definitely are not the first thought when a lady pictures her future groom, though engineers can probably assemble a wedding on a budget better than most. I admit it. The standard issue engineer—mechanical, chemical, electrical, whatever—tends to be rather dull. I like to think that I was a notable exception. You probably wouldn’t have thought the same based on my appearance: a little too short for my weight, a hairline just behind my ears, and a wardrobe perfect for a radio personality.

Yet I remained an optimist. Well, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. I actually had just a tad less confidence than the team captain of the 1992 Qatar Olympic basketball team—prior to an early round contest against the Dream Team—that I would uncover that rare angel willing to accept me as me. My future better half. The future mother of my offspring. Either she was going to have to really lower her standards, or I was going to have to put on one heck of a show. Probably both.

Still, despite my borderline dread of never finding The One—or, more correctly, That One—I managed to avoid desperation. Inwardly, I compiled a list of rigid requirements that necessarily would characterize her. If That One failed on any of these five metrics, then obviously she was not That One, and it would be over. Done. Curtains. Let the fat lady sing. Surely, even with the odds against me, I could find that special girl who filled this order:

  1. That One would have to be younger than me. No, I don’t mean the May-December type thing, just a little younger. Don’t ask me why; it is just something I wanted. (I think it may have related to a recurring nightmare I had in my youth of being attacked and eaten by a cougar. Or was it a wildebeest?
  2. That One could not have been previously married. Divorces, in my mind, carried too much baggage, even if no children were involved. Single men of my era on the dating scene quite often entertained themselves with movie rentals from a magical place called Blockbuster, and I had seen my share of thrillers involving spurned ex-spouses. Magazine model though I was not, I quite liked my facial features in the order they existed, along with my major appendages. Sticking to this requirement also afforded me the luxury of not having to answer any inquisition from well-meaning, but annoying, relatives as to if I might expect That One to leave me, as well.
  3. That One would have to love to fish, or at least be completely accommodating of my love for the same. Fishing to me is more than an outdoor hobby, more than just an escape from work. Fishing is a visit with God, a supernatural experience. (And considering that my fishing skills are extremely deficient, it is nice to know that God is out there with me, if for no other reason than to hear my pleads for strikes on a plastic worm.) I had fishing buddies that never saw the water after their wedding receptions. I needed to find That One who appreciated the beautiful mixture of rod, reel, boat, and water. Preferably one that had a nice boat and motor herself. (No, that is not innuendo!)
  4. That One would come from a similar faith background. Gee, that’s a little bit ambiguous. Let me be a little more frank: she would not be Catholic. As a lifelong Protestant—mainline, with some charismatic leanings—I was confident of one thing about the traditions of the Catholic church: they were weird. Catholics ate fish on Fridays, a traditional, symbolic sacrifice. (Such a sacrifice I could live with, weird though it might be. I would do the same, if I could ever catch enough fish to make a meal.) They were very exclusive and had services that resembled a Crossfit warm-up routine: stand up, sit down, kneel, repeat. And Catholic folks, with sin on their hearts, confessed to a priest rather than to God. (I knew that priests shared confession with a bishop, who in turn confessed to a cardinal, who further confessed to the Pope. The Pope had the privilege, in addition to heading the entire Catholic church from the Vatican, of confessing to God. In my perfect view, I figured the Protestant faiths simply cut out the middle men.) Narrow-minded? Yes. False stereotyping? Perhaps. Downright wrong? Probably so. Look, I didn’t say they were all noble—or even valid—reasons.
  5. That One would carry the same passionate desire for children that I did. Her visions of rich apparel, dazzling accessories, and fine cars would include yoga pants, diaper bags, and minivans. On this there was no room for negotiation. If That One had a name, it very likely would be Fertile Myrtle.

That One. She was out there. But by golly, she sure hid herself well.

My quest to find the perfect partner went about as well as my typical fishing trips, with quite a few throwbacks. I won’t lie and say it was completely bland. On at least an occasion or two, I did discover a girl that met all the requirements. There was only one problem: she didn’t really care too much for me, and quite honestly neither did I for her. I realized soon that I had missed including one other small stipulation: there needed to be a little chemistry—if not, electricity—between the two of us.

I tried singles groups, I tried the club scenes, and I tried the gym. No, not lying. I even accepted a set-up or two from my mother and her sisters, a Webster-worthy definition of a bad idea. It just wasn’t happening. With each disappointment, I could feel my dreams of patriarchy slipping further away. I fought with all my soul to avoid desperation, but it slowly began to overtake me. And I finally gave in. I finally submitted to the ultimate act of single man’s desperation.

I accepted an invitation for a blind date.

My dad always liked to joke that a blind date was perfect for me, because the worse her eyesight might be, the better my chances were. Ha ha. Blind dates scared me. First of all, if she was so great, why in the world would her friends have to set her up? For that matter, what did it say about me? “Hey, Myrtle, we have a great guy for you to meet! Good looking? Well, he’s got a great personality!”

Furthermore, how do you gauge success on a blind date? I mean, on a date with a woman that you have asked out yourself, you know that she at least has some inkling of desire to be out with you. The lady who accepts a blind date forgoes an escape clause. There is no way of knowing if her demeanor is for her friends (the arrangers) or for you. You are blind in more ways than one.

I digress.

So after weeks of nagging by a work buddy’s wife, I gave in to meeting one of her friends. My anxiety was overwhelming. I had to know a little about this mystery woman before walking into a restaurant and plopping my ample derrière down across a table from her. Employing my best private investigator methods, here is what I found out:

  1. She was nearly two years older than me.
  2. She was single, but had been in a relationship not too very long before—a relationship of the legal kind. Yep, a divorcee.
  3. According to my friend, her previous husband’s obsession with fishing had turned her off to it completely. He was confident that she did not own a boat, either.
  4. She was a lifelong member of St. Mary’s Parish. What does four strikes get you in baseball?

I didn’t even bother to inquire about whether or not she fancied herself as a future soccer mom. It mattered not, plus I think my friends might have been somewhat disturbed if I would have asked a question like that. Still, I decided to go through with meeting her. It was that or watch the Astros blow another one.

For a girl that I had no interest in whatsoever, I found myself really interested in her. (It didn’t hurt that she was kind of good-looking—dare I say, totally gorgeous—as well.) We connected. There was electricity. We actually had a really good time hanging out that night. After we said our goodbyes at dinner, I drove home thinking that maybe she would be just an all-around great gal with whom to pal around. If matrimony was not in our future, at least we could share a laugh or two.

So I asked her out again, alone this time. Then I did again. And again. With each date I found myself more and more drawn to her. This just could not be right. She was in complete violation of the first four rules! Why was I still so attracted to her? It seemed like I had found near-perfection in complete imperfection. Weeks turned into months, and we found ourselves exclusive. I was actually enjoying myself; I was thoroughly enjoying us.

Then she dropped the bomb on me. A big bunker-buster of a bomb.

She was unable to have kids.

It was discovered during her previous marriage. Sparing the medical details, in essence her body refused to submit to the fertilization process, one of the relatively important steps in the whole pregnancy process. Something about cysts and ovaries. Simply put, without substantial medical intervention, she would never carry a baby; even with treatment, the odds were still very long.

I was as devastated to hear it as she was to know it about herself. That night, after leaving her house and driving back to my place, I sat in my truck in my driveway for a long while, cursing myself for allowing my heart to open up to someone so obviously wrong for me. Cursing my friends for setting me up with her. Wanting so badly to curse God for allowing our paths to cross. And then I did something I had never done before in my 26 years.

I literally cried out to Jesus. Loudly.

“Lord, I have never doubted that you know my heart. I have never doubted that you are always there and have a plan for my life that only you see. But why?” I got out of my truck and started pacing around my front yard. (A word of advice: pacing around in your front yard shortly after midnight while talking to yourself is a great way to meet people, like sheriff’s deputies.)

“Why in the world would you let this happen to me? She is a wonderful girl! I am crazy about her! But she’s not wrong on just a point or two. All of them! Every stinking requirement that I have, she does not meet! Why would you break my heart like this?”

I must have walked in a circle for fifteen minutes, huffing and heaving and pondering. When I finally stopped and made my way into my townhouse, I slumped on my couch and leaned my head back and just sat there in the quiet darkness. And then He spoke. I felt a peace come over me like I had not felt before. He was there, right there with me. He had listened to me rant and rave. Now, it was His turn.

“Trust me. You said it yourself: I know the plans I have for you. It is not your place to doubt. Let me work the plan. She is That One.”

Seven months after that first meeting—the blind date with the girl so wrong for me—I asked That One to marry me. Seven months after getting engaged, she became my wife. She was still older than me, and she could not un-marry her previous husband. But I found out that she really enjoyed fishing, especially with me. Perhaps best of all, we both stepped out of our comfort zones as we joined in faith, marrying in the Episcopal church.

And so what if we were not destined to be parents. Who was I to question what Jesus had for us? It was His plan, not ours. Life would be happy, albeit as a happy couple. Sure there was a slight emptiness in our hearts, an absence of levity. One small place devoid of laughter.

Who would have ever thought that the Creator had such a big sense of humor?

The first couple of weeks of our married life went like this. We married on a lovely Saturday in October. Our honeymoon was limited to a three-day jaunt in the Texas Hill Country, abbreviated so because of my obligations at work. My new wife celebrated her birthday exactly one week after we married. My company gave me a wonderful gift for Halloween, informing me that I was to start working shift, beginning that very night. After just falling to sleep following my first night on shift, my lovely new bride called from Houston to tell me she had been in an accident; we spent the remainder of that day, otherwise reserved for sleep, arranging body work on the car and securing a rental vehicle. Married life was great!

I was working in the backyard on my day off, a transition day between night shift and returning to day shift, when my wife pulled up in the driveway in her rental. The date was November 4th. She walked out into the backyard with a drink for me in one hand, and what looked like a gift bag in the other. She handed me the drink and asked me to sit down, offering me the gift bag.

There were three items in the bag: a baby’s outfit, a book entitled The Expectant Father, and a pregnancy test—a positive pregnancy test. I sat dumbfounded for what seemed like hours, looking from the three items to my wife and back again. It was like the world stopped, like someone had hit the pause button. Silence enveloped me, and then I heard it, a soft voice whisper in my ear.

“Trust me. Let me work the plan.”

I wasn’t supposed to be a father.


It all started on that bench in our backyard, with me staring at a gift bag and hearing the voice of God telling me that I had just embarked on the craziest, most amazing adventure known to man. That dream I had was coming true. I was going to be a father. It was the first turn on a fast, fast racetrack.

Our firstborn, a boy, arrived the following June. His little brother came seventeen months later. With a family now double in size, the home that I had purchased prior to our wedding—the house intended for a completely infertile couple—started to get a bit tight, so we upgraded. Less than a year after moving, our faith was tested in a big way when my wife’s third pregnancy ended in miscarriage. I guess heaven needed to hear that baby’s cry more than we needed to at that time. It was a big blow, as we both were yearning secretly but deeply for a little girl. (For the record, I refuse to weigh in on the political debate regarding abortion. But I will say, after seeing so clearly how well-developed our child was when the pregnancy was deemed no longer viable—well within the first trimester—I do not see how anyone could submit to voluntarily aborting.)

Hurricane Rita later that year served to divert our attention from the lost pregnancy. Hurricane Rita also gave us more than wind damage. Some time during our evacuation, the miracle of life began again. (That sounds so much more dignified than a few other ways of saying I got my wife pregnant somewhere along the three weeks spent from northeast Texas to southwest Missouri to Baton Rouge.) I won’t go into details, but we were completely confident that we would soon be parents to three boys. Did I mention that God has a sense of humor?

The pink bundle that should have been blue arrived the following summer. Two boys, one girl. Could life get any better? Or more exhausting? The answer to both was a resounding yes.

From the beginning—well, actually from the time we found out that those doctors were quite wrong about my wife’s infertility (or lack thereof)—we pictured ourselves as parents of four children. The first three had come along at a pretty good clip. A year and a half after the birth of our daughter, we finally accepted the reality that #4 wasn’t going to happen, and we started planning a garage sale to liquidate three children’s worth of baby stuff. My bride was in a discount store picking up price tag stickers when she passed the family planning aisle. For old time’s sake, she decided to try one more pregnancy test.

It reads quite literally like the beginning of a bathroom joke: my wife found out that we were going to be parents a fourth time, yes, in the women’s room of a Walmart.

On the evening of October 19, 2001, I was a single guy on the eve of the most important day of my life—my wedding day. Exactly seven years and a week later, I was the proud pop to three boys and a beautiful little princess.

None of it was ever supposed to happen.


I have been a dad now for a decade and a half. I still feel like I know absolutely nothing about raising children. Sure I have taught them how to read and write, how to say “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” when replying to anyone older than themselves, and how to determine if a situation mandates a call to 911. (Trust me, that was an important lesson, one I was probably a week or so late in teaching!) Yet I still feel like, on my own, my “Daddy toolbox” is missing a set of pliers and a hammer.

People often toss around a description of kids as "gifts from God". Take note of such individuals, as I am certain that they fall into one of three distinct categories: 1) people without children, 2) people with grown children in successful careers, and 3) crazy people. Normal people with real kids that spend more than five minutes a day with their offspring probably would concur if the description was amplified slightly with just one word.

Gag gifts from God.

Seriously, anyone who has succumbed to the vision of The Great I Am as a humorless, sword-wielding, throne-sitter clearly has not lived the dramedy known as parenthood. There is a reason that sitcoms about families continue to make us shoot milk from our noses today, as they have for decades. It’s because raising children is a riot, provided you can survive it. Writers of shows like that don’t have to create humor; they simply have to chronicle it. Half of network prime time might better be described as documentary rather than comedy. We laugh because we live it!

Can’t you just picture it? God sits there on His heavenly throne, peering down, contemplating the prayerful pleas of Joe and Susan, two lovely individuals who have it all together, as they appeal for the blessing of offspring. They’ve got a modest house, late-model cars, financial stability, and a media room that would easily convert to a nursery. It has been months—maybe years—that they have waited patiently to see a plus sign on that pregnancy test. And then it happens!

Five years, two minivans, another couple of delivery room visits, and 15,346 diapers later, Joe and Susan resemble extras from the set of The Walking Dead. Of course, you’ll never hear either of them say it, but secretly Ol’ Joe and Sweet Sue wonder if some sort of divine karma has gotten a hold of them. As Joe makes another 2:30 AM trek down the hallway in answer to the unmistakable sound of a child retching in his bed after consuming one too many Sonic chili dogs, his mind drifts away to a more peaceful clime—perhaps the contested Gaza Strip or Los Angeles following a controversial court ruling—and he allows himself to meditate on what life might be like had those prayers of years before remained unanswered. Restful, full nights of sleep. Floors that don’t look like a migrant flock of condors with dysentery have nested. Eyes without bags. Kitchen cabinets with dishes free of cartoon characters and sippy lids. Movies watched without hitting the pause button eighty-four times. Intimate encounters absent of the fear of third parties appearing seemingly from thin air at the foot of the bed.

I can empathize with Joe. Because I am Joe. All of us fathers are Joe. We have all, most often with tremendous guilt, allowed ourselves to consider what we might have missed by making the choice to enter fatherhood. Fortunately for me, that guilt has always been short-lived, because I actually do realize what I truly would have never experienced. Like the simultaneous horror and elation of watching my little girl take her first steps. Or getting to wrap my arm around my son who is desperately trying to be brave on his first Ferris wheel ride. First laughs. First days of school. That first fish. First heartbreak. Last diaper. The last time a pacifier is needed to put the princess to sleep. The final dismantling of a crib when that youngest child implores me that he is ready for a big boy bed like his brothers.

Sure, it is not all pretty and wrapped up nicely like an episode of Ozzie and Harriet or Leave It to Beaver. Parenting is tough and dirty. It is not a stretch to say that it very well could be the most difficult, yet rewarding, job that has ever been attempted. Quite truly, it is comforting to know that even though no human has ever performed it to perfection, no human has ever been challenged nor expected to do so. And after all, man, does it have its rewards!

Manly man that I am, I have found myself over the years caught between the moment and the legacy, between making memories and ensuring that my kids are equipped to carry on my and my wife’s beliefs, flawed though they may be. Do I want to be father to the next Walter Payton or the next Archimedes? The next Lucille Ball or perhaps this generation’s Marie Curie? What do I want to experience with my children, and what do I want to leave to them?

Neither Ozzie nor Mr. Cleaver ever had an episode in which he pondered that!


That paradox—the here and now versus the enduring legacy—is what ultimately led me to pen this transcript. I witness daily the wear and tear carried by moms and dads (myself included) as they try desperately to guarantee that the “holes” they look back on in their own lives will never appear in the lives of their children. From the outside, it looks like some crazy stationary bicycle, on which parents pedal as ferociously as possible to get somewhere, toward an elusive target in the haze of the future. Sadly, the scenery never seems to change. The finish line might lie just ahead, but what race are they, or I, actually running? When I finally cross that line, how do I know if I won? Or placed? Or, in my case, did the judges forget that I was even entered in the race at all?

Our American legal system states that we only have eighteen years of obligatory parental responsibility for each of our children. Eighteen years! That’s only 216 months. 6480 days, give or take, depending on where the leap year falls. It is heart-wrenching at a minimum, to wake up one day to realize that you’ve far surpassed the halfway point in that quest. Inevitably, you find yourself in doubt, questioning just what lasting lessons you have imparted to your offspring. At least that is where I found myself.

In response, I did what any practical, logical engineer might do. I started taking notes. I’m not talking about a phrase or moral or a life lesson every now and again. I mean, I took notes on everything. On love. On politics. On church life. I took notes on clothes and shoes, on fishing and hunting. I took notes on parents. On in-laws. Cooking, cleaning, drinking, dieting, and marriage. I took notes on everything.

And lo and behold, after years of note-taking, I had a book.

What follows here is not scientific. It might be a bit debatable. Likely, to some, it will be maddening. Maybe a bit controversial. Almost certainly at some point, it will circumvent political correctness. Eh, that’s a concern for someone else. What I’ve written is what I want my kids to remember as knowledge poured forth from their father.

This, my friends, is just a short accounting of life’s lessons according to Daddeaux.


  1. Wonderful! Are you seriously going to publish soon?

  2. I hope to publish soon, yes. I have some work to do on the remainder, though I have a lot of good material!

  3. I love reading your writings! My only complaint is the A&M connection! :-)

    1. Ha! Thanks HookEm! I hope you continue to be a fan!


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