Mother’s Day 2017 was a little bit of a disaster in my household. Part 1 started off fine; my wife was giddy after opening her new hiking boots and exercise top on Saturday night. Part 2 was a hit, too, with a quick family walk down the block to our favorite diner for breakfast quesadillas and pancakes on Sunday morning.
It fell apart on Part 3. After breakfast, we loaded up a couple daypacks and headed to Rancho Palos Verdes for a four-mile family hike on trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From the minute our boots hit dirt until we all collapsed into our scorching hot leatherette car seats three hours later, my son was a constant complaint machine. I don’t blame him—he’s 6, after all; whining is what he does—but rather the genius who came up with the plan to pair a wife seeking solitude with the two people she already spends all her time, and throwing in steep hills, hot sun and a million When will this be OVERs? for good measure.
So as we approach Father’s Day, I’m hoping to help everyone avoid the mistake I made by trying to do too much. I enlisted the help of five dads and asked them to share some thoughts about the holiday and being a parent. And below that, a quick gift guide to get the giving gears grinding.
Job: Play-by-Play Announcer, FOX Sports & LA Dodgers
Location: Los Angeles
Kids: Charlotte, born on Father’s Day ’16
• On the joy of being a dad … My wife, Libby, brought Charlotte to Dodger Stadium to hang out before a day game earlier this year. During our hit with the studio on the pregame show, I decided to hold Charlotte. We had no idea she’d enjoy it as much as she did. Not sure if she liked being in front of the camera like her daddy, or if the microphone windscreen just felt good on her teething gums. Getting the Dodger job has been an incredible, life-changing thing. But nothing compares to the joy I feel every single day being Charlotte’s dad.
• If my wife and kids handed me $1,500 for Father’s Day, I’d immediately go out and purchase one of those super high-end coffee makers. Get it built into the kitchen. Like having a Starbucks a few steps from bed. Those late night returns from Dodger Stadium followed by our beautiful early morning human alarm clock would make that investment worth it.
Job: Creative Director, Athenahealth. Founder, Old Try
Kids: 3-year-old daughter Annie; 1-month-old son Elliot
• What life is like as a dad … My son was just born a month ago, and I’ve been on leave since then. Instead of spending a bunch of time with him, my charge is to get out of the house and keep our 3 year old busy. We’ve had a great month to bond. Two things have come up over the past couple of weeks that have been really impactful. An old friend of mine unexpectedly died walking home from work in D.C. Annie asked if his family still loved him. I told her that we still love and miss people when they’re gone, but that my friend was estranged from his family. She asked why. I told her it was because Ritchie was gay and they didn’t accept that. But that no matter what happens as she grows, I will love her and support her and accept her even if it is hard to do. A few days later, Annie and I passed a bench in a park, and on that bench was a rose. Annie asked why. When we read the plaque, I noticed the date was from exactly one year ago. She responded: “Oh, I remember that Daddy. When people are gone, we still love them and miss them. Even if we don’t agree with their choices. I want to go get a flower and put it here. And I want to get one for Ritchie.” I think the kids are going to be alright.
• If my wife and kids handed me $55 for Father’s Day, I’d immediately go out and purchase a bottle of Stagg Jr. Bourbon. With a couple of kids now, I find myself getting out rarely. So there’s nothing better than having a buddy come over to have a strong pour on the patio, with the wife and kiddos nearby. I call that double warmth.
Job: Golf Channel host and interviewer
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Kids: Triplet 6-year-old sons James, Rhys, Miles
• How being a dad makes me stronger … A favorite pastime with my triplet sons is swimming with them, though it ends up being quite the workout. We’ll all be in the pool and I’ll end up throwing one in the air so he makes a big splash, then another son, and then another. And then they all swim back to me again and again and again, and again and again and again. You get the picture. “Daddy, me!” or “Daddy, higher!” or “Daddy, my turn!” By the end of the day my shoulders ache, but the smiles and laughter make it all worth it.
• If my wife and boys handed me $100 for Father’s Day, I’d go out and buy a nice bottle of wine. I really started to like wine once I had kids. You, too, huh?
Job: NFL reporter, ESPN
Location: San Diego
Kids: Two daughters, ages 25 and 23
• The challenge of being a dad … I like to say that being a dad is among life’s most exhilarating and exasperating challenges. It’s funny—parents are often viewed as teachers for their children, and yet I feel I’ve learned so much from them. Like, patience … and perspective … and empathy. They’ve made me laugh and made me cry. They’ve made me so angry I wonder how they could be mine, and they’ve made me so happy I’ve wondered what I did to be theirs.
• If my wife and kids tried to give me money for Father’s Day, I’d tell them it was unnecessary and that all I wanted was a card, a hug, a kiss and an OK to head to the golf course.
Job: Writer/reporter for Sports Illustrated
Location: New York City
Kids: Twin toddlers
• Embracing the small stuff as a dad … Parenting is the hardest, most exhausting job in history so when you see humorous things your kids do, you want to savor that moment. Right before they go to sleep each night, we read the kids their favorite book, which currently is “A Perfectly Messed-Up Story.” I love watching them improve their language skills with each reading, along with how funny they find the protagonist of the story getting peanut butter and jelly dropped on his head. Celebrate the small stuff. It’s the best.
• If my wife and kids handed me $50 for Father’s Day, I’d immediately go out and purchase bananas, bubbles, cupcakes and tomatoes. Honestly, the best gift my kids could give me would be sleep because that’s what I crave above all. But I’d take this newfound money and buy cupcakes (which they both love more than a Kardashian loves publicity), bubbles (they are endlessly entertained by them), tomatoes (my little girl’s favorite food) and bananas (my little son’s favorite food). Of course the sugar rush from the cupcakes would be so great that they’d be bouncing off the walls for hours, thus preventing me from sleeping on Father’s Day.
Job: Editor, The MMQB. Founder, Jeans & Ties
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Kids: 6-year-old son Jude
• Dads might need a minute … On Father’s Day a few years ago, my wife and son gave me a day to myself. I chose to take a drive down the coast, followed by a hike in Laguna Beach and then a standup paddleboarding excursion on Newport Bay. (I snuck in a breakfast burrito and a poke bowl lunch in there too.) Solo time is a rare occurrence in family life, but a necessity to keep the sanity. It was a good opportunity to reflect and be thankful for what I have.
• If my wife and son handed me $125 for Father’s Day, I’d immediately go out and purchase a new set of bike tires like these. My wife and I share a car, so I try to bike everywhere I can around Long Beach—coffee shops, ATM visits, light grocery runs, etc. The ride’s been a little rougher lately thanks to some rapidly balding tires. Some new rubber to hit the road and I’ll be set.
FATHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE
1. Hudson Sutler: Lowell Cooler Bag ($99). Perfect size for the beach, pool or my personal fave—youth baseball tourneys.
3. Traeger: Junior Elite Grill ($429). Love my Weber, but a friend consistently makes ridiculous ribs on his Traeger and I’m tired of having meat envy.
4. Form•Function•Form: Horween Leather Chronograph ($118). Best bang for the buck in a stylish watch. Dad will wear everywhere.
5. George T. Stagg: Barrel Proof Bourbon ($48). Micah is a man who knows his browns, so I’ll piggyback his rec here.
7. Sanborn Canoe Co.: Tennessean ($3,499). Unrealistic, but if you have the means, get dad on the water and hope he remembers to leave this heirloom canoe to you in his will.
8. The Old Try: Go ($42). Pair this print with a plane ticket somewhere out West and win Father’s Day.
9. SeaVees: Hermosa Plimsoll Standard ($68). Don’t be the dad—or let your dad/husband be the dad—in neato neon sneakers and jeans at his next social event. SeaVees are foolproof.
10. Harry’s: Father’s Day Shave Set ($30). In honor of getting my dad soap-on-a-rope and Brut cologne for probably half the Father’s Days of my childhood, this is basically the modern-day equivalent. (I swear by Harry’s products in real life, and in an ironic twist, so does my dad.)