“You’re my best daddy. I don’t want you to go to the butt doctor.” – Tabrina, 9
One of the greatest gifts I have ever received is a cheap bargain bin coffee mug. Now, most people would look at this mug and think of it as a garage sale item or a Goodwill donation, but to me, it’s one of the most valuable items in my life. Let me tell you how a mug can change your life.
My oldest son has no idea who his biological father is. My other three kids share the same biological father. But all four kids called the same guy dad growing up. I don’t know if I will ever meet him but I will never speak ill towards this man. He helped create and shape my four kids. Don’t get me wrong I am heartbroken by some of the stories my kids have shared with me about their past, but I will always be thankful for my kid’s biological father.
After my kids were removed from their biological home, they were placed in Social Services and then placed into the Foster Care system where in 24 months they had 4 official “foster dads” and an unknown amount of guys that had male input in their lives. Each one of these guys is remembered for different reasons. Some of these guys were legit stand-up guys who invested in my kids and I will always be grateful for them. Sadly some of these guys were guys who did as little as possible to interact with my kids. Those guys, I pray that they don’t leave scars on other kids like they did with mine.
On the day my wife and I met our future kids we were introduced as Mr. Mike and Mrs. Katrina. The kids had no idea who we were and they were told that we were friends of their current Foster Parents. After hanging out for about 15 minutes, I let them know that I was just Mike, not Mr. Mike. I didn’t want these kids to feel like I was a “Mr.” To me growing up, “Mr.” meant no fun, stuffy, old guys that I didn’t want to hang out with. So I never wanted these kids to feel like I needed to be addressed as “Mr.” ever.
The “Get To Know You” period was a very fast and short process that consisted of about 10 days. In 10 days my wife and I met our kids, had dinner, spent one full day together, did an overnight visit at our house, did a 4-day and 3-night visit and then moved the kids in full time. Yes in 10 days, the Hodson Family went from 2 and a dog to 6 and a very scared dog.
The night we picked up our kids for the last time, their foster parents told the kids that my wife and I were going to adopt them and we would be their Forever Home. They also told the kids from that moment on they should call us Mom and Dad. Yes, it was as awkward and uncomfortable as it sounds. I’ll admit that the first time they called me dad, it felt odd. It was done out of position not out of relationship. They could have called me Sir, Mister, Pastor, Captain it all had the same emotion in it. Dad was a name given only in title.
As days turned into weeks, the tone in “Dad” changed. It went from being formal and cold and started to gain a little warmth. I could see the corners of their mouths would turn up a bit. They gained a little bit of a smile when they would say it. Then the word would morph a little into “Daaaaaaaaaad” when they were mad or “DAD, DAD, DAD” when they wanted my attention and then it happened the first “Daddy”; it was no longer a title or a position – Daddy was now an identity.
• Daddy became the one who wiped away tears and kissed skinned knees.
• Daddy became the one who tucked kids in bed at night and cleared closets of boogiemen.
• Daddy became the one who removed training wheels and cheered on the first solo bike ride.
• Daddy became the one who held fearful hands as kiddos waited on shots and he’s bought ice cream to erase the memory of the shot.
• Daddy became the one who stayed up late doing homework and woke up God-awful early to drive to practice.
Daddy is my favorite name I’ve ever been called and it’s the proudest duty I’ve ever attempted.
Oh but don’t get me wrong, even though I love being daddy, I learned that it really sucked being daddy at times. I’ve been ignored in public and ran from, I’ve been sneezed on and spit on, I’ve been yelled at, cussed at, screamed at, cried at, I’ve been punched by a son and almost kicked in the face by a daughter both on purpose, I’ve cleaned up feces, urine, and vomit. I’ve been lied to and lied about. I’ve been told I’m “not my real dad” and that “my other family was better than you” and I’ve held a shaking child close as they raged and screamed about how much they hated me. But daddy doesn’t do his job for pay or for recognition; daddy does what he does because that’s is what he signed up for. See any guy can father a child, but a man commits to being a daddy. And there is no other commitment in the world that will bring you such joy or such pain. There is no other commitment that will make you question your abilities or make you wonder if you have what it takes like being daddy. But for the countless moments of insecurity and self-doubt you’ll get these little moments of clarity that help you keep going.
One of my moments of clarity came on a Tuesday evening right before dinner. My wife Katrina and my daughter Tabrina had gone shopping at a local discount store looking for home decorations. I have no idea what they bought at the store (I’m a man, so I’m sure my memory is clouded, and I don’t remember or quite possibly I just I don’t care what they bought). But, as they showed off all the decor they bought, my daughter held a little brown paper bag tight to her chest and she smiled from ear to ear. She looked at my wife and said, “Mom can I show him? Can I give it to him?” My wife nodded her head and my daughter handed me the bag and waited. I slowly opened the bag trying to build the anticipation; I fumbled with the bag like it was almost impossible to open it up. Brina girl started rushing me “hurry, hurry, don’t be so slow”. So I reached into the bag and pulled out a cream-colored oversized coffee mug with large brown letters written on it “Best Dad”. I looked at it and though silently “ok, I already have 6 mugs and I can only drink from one at a time. But I’ll look excited and be thankful.” Before I could verbalize my fake excitement Tabrina started explaining the mug. “Daddy, I saw this and knew it was for you. It’s because you are my best dad, I’ve had other dads but daddy you are my best daddy.”
With her little explanation and a really big hug, I became overwhelmed with emotion and started to tear up. I got down on one knee so I could look Tabrina in the eyes and said, “Baby girl, I am so proud to be your dad and I pray every day that God can help me to be your Best Daddy. Every time I use this mug I am going to think of how lucky I am that you call me daddy and that I get to call you daughter.”
I can’t express how much that mug means to me. That little mug gets me refocused on my goals and purpose in life. I am not here to be the world’s greatest pastor of the biggest ministry on earth, I am not supposed to be the worlds wealthiest man or pursue that dream. I am called to be the “Best Dad” I can be. I realize that my kids didn’t choose to do life and family this way, but my wife and I did. We made the choice to adopt and accept everything that came along with adoption. So every morning as I drink my coffee from my favorite “Best Dad” mug, I realize that I am called to be “Best Dad” to Ty, DJ, Brina and Dino with everything I am, with everything I’ve got.
As far as the “Butt Doctor” goes, I have no idea what that was all about.