As a single father, I dreaded Valentine’s Day. Instead of a day of affirmations, the holiday was a shaming contest for moms. And their favorite target was a clueless dad, like me.

I assumed the fatherly chore for Valentine’s Day was to make sure every student in my son’s class got a card. I didn’t know that the holiday was a parental crafts competition and that moms spent countless hours looking for ideas on Instagram, Pinterest, and Esty.

At my son’s first Valentine’s Day exchange party, the teacher and moms gave stink eye to his Wal-Mart card set. I assumed it was because I went cheap, so I bought more expensive collections with add-ons like candy, erasers, and temporary tattoos. Regardless of how much I spent, the moms never gave likes to my son’s Valentine’s Day cards.

As a typical male, it took repeated beatdowns before I understood the expectation. A genuinely loving and caring parent takes the time to craft a personalized Valentine’s Day card box.

As my son’s final Valentine’s Day classroom celebration approached, fourth grade, I meditated on the problem. How could a single dad compete with the social media fluent moms? As a father, what differentiated me from the mothers? During the reflective state, two words floated around my psyche. “Depot.” “Home.”

I went to my people’s village. Like every Home Depot venture, a burst of testosterone jumpstarted my D.I.Y. brainstorming. “Valentine’s Day cards?” “A container for cards?” “How about a box?” “A mailbox!”

I realized that I could compete with the Joanna Gaines wannabes with a mailbox. A metal mailbox with a red flag. A full-sized metal mailbox with a red flag that was spray-painted red.

And before you question my genius, here are the answers.

1) Yes, the mailbox and spray paint were more expensive than a box of cards. Way more.

2) Yes, I had to drive the kid and mailbox to school. And pick them up.

3) Yes, my son was embarrassed hauling a full-sized mailbox through the hallway. More like humiliated.

But, when he placed the spray-painted mailbox on his desk, it was a huge hit. His classmates loved the box, especially using the flag to indicate a delivery.

My son learned a valuable man lesson on that Valentine’s Day. When a father is struggling to solve a problem, the solutions are not at stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Dads find inspiration at retailers with employees wearing tool belts and aprons.

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