This dad was at the lowest point of his life, but he managed to surprise his wife in the most touching way

Darius Stevens was at the lowest point of his life, however, that fact didn’t stop him from turning to a super dad by giving his wife and daughters the most touching gift he could possibly give. This is a story about staying positive no matter how hard it gets.

Building up

There are certain circumstances in life that bring a person to act in all kind of ways. Darius Setevens, the author of Clueless Parent, may have been clueless about many things when it came to parenting, but one thing he wasn’t clueless about was how to make his family happy. Unemployed and diagnosed with skin cancer, the father of two daughters knew he had to make a change in his life and try and stay as positive as possible. He decided to literally build up from the lowest point he was in.


Trying to remain positive

The father of two beautiful daughters and the loving husband that he is, Darius knew that there was more to life. He was always inspired by his friends and family, and he thought it was the perfect time to do something big. Darius decided to make a touching gesture for his wife. First, he sent her on a surprised vacation then he went on to create an something unbelievable in the family’s backyard all while risking his poor health.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 1.45.11 PM

Turning 40

With his 40th birthday coming up, Darius’s outlook and perspective on life has changed significantly. 40 is usually a big milestone in a person’s life, and that was the case for Darius, especially taking into consideration his tough situation: he had no job, he lost all of his money and was in great debts. On top of that, the aspiring author was diagnosed with cancer. With his birthday on the horizon, Stevens felt more blessed than ever to have such a supportive wife named Rose and two sweet girls. He was starting to plan his birthday.


Dare was a daring man

Also nicknamed Dare by his friends, there’s no doubt that in this situation, Dare was as daring as he could possibly be. For his 40th birthday, the Californian dad asked his friends to give hi, something unusual instead of the regular gifts. He asked his supportive friends for wood and timber. Yes, that was his only request for a gift. What was Darius’s big plan now that he knew his birthday wasn’t going to be like any other birthday in the past.


The C word

It was a time for Darius to reflect on life with his birthday coming up, that’s for sure. However, when he found himself unemployed, broke and with no writing inspiration, Darius never thought that more bad news were coming his way. After noticing a few odd patches on his skin, he decided to go to the doctor. What he thought was an innocent scratch turned out to be anyone’s worst nightmare. When the biopsy came abck, Dare was notified he was diagnosed with skin cancer.


A depressing situation

Overwhelmed by the unlucky turns of events, Darius didn’t know how he was going to tell his beloved wife that he was sick. He was facing a life or death situation, but the positive man that he was, he didn’t want to see the doctors. He even received a letter from medical services encouraging him to seek out medical care. His wife found the letter and while Stevens felt relieved in a way that it was all out in the open, he couldn’t help but sink into depression.


Finding the light

Darius knew inside that it was up to him to stay positive, and happiness was in his hands. He also realized that probably there is someone else somewhere that has it much worse than him. Soon, he found a new job, took his family and moved his family from their friend’s house to a new house and found new inspiration in the least expected place. Darius turned to Pinterest, the endless world of ideas and images. In fact, Darius almost became obsessed with site.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 1.47.32 PM

Getting creative

After spending hours and hours on Pinterest, it was only a matter of time until the ‘clueless dad’ would unleash his creative side, after all he was a writer so creativity was in his blood. Upon his 40th birthday, Darius almost gave it all up: ‘I had once promised my younger self that if I hadn’t sold a script, a novel or made a feature film by the time I was 40, I would throw in the towel…’ Darius had bigger plans for life, but he was going to start small. Rose, his wife, had no clue what her husband was scheming.


Surprise number 1

Going back to his 40th birthday that was just around the corner, we’ve mentioned that Darius has asked his friends and family for a strange gift for his birthday, wood. Darius was planning to build his wife and kids the backyard of their dreams. Before he set out to create his masterplan, he decided to surprise his wife with a trip to New York. We have to admit, that’s quite a surprise on its own. Darius recruited his own daughters for the big mission.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 1.46.53 PM


Planning such a big surprise that involved a lot of creativity and working with his hands, was going to keep Darius very busy and free of his mind and condition for quite some time. In addition, it was an opportunity for him to bond with his daughters, a time he valued deeply considering his condition. Now that his wife was away on a well-deserved vacation in the big city, he could start with his master plan. The lumber was already there just waiting for him to get started.


Getting to work

The plan of giving the backyard a makeover included building a dream playhouse, a pergola, fixing the garden and building a deck. Relying heavily on Pinterest and working under a tight budget, Darius got right to work, with the help of his little sweet helpers of course. When Darius was running out of money throughout the process, he took some handyman works in order to increase his budget. He also had his wife’s interest in mind, and one of his missions was to build his wife the perfect space for working out outside.


Knock on wood

Stevens asked his closest friends and family for the most surprising birthday gift. ‘I asked all my friends and family to give me wood for my birthday..I asked other friends for leftover lumber on their job sites. I looked through Craigslist..I did whatever I needed to do to get my ducks in a row’. Darius is a determined man who wouldn’t let anything get in his way or his dream.


The mini version

Before getting to work, Darius decided to be smart about his moves, and he wasn’t going to build anything before he had a big plan, or in this case, a tiny one. Stevens went on to create a miniature version of his backyard. He built a scale model before he started (which is not an easy thing to do on its own). By what he had in mind and the way that it turned out in the physical world, he had a mini version of his dream.


Inspired to keep going

Feeling all inspired to do something great with his life, and especially using his new love for the aesthetic social media platform sparked something inside of him. Something that was waiting to be unleashed. It was his new creative side and his new appreciation for life that made him keep going. He wanted to build a dream world in his backyard outside. Together with his little girls, they were all highly motivated to keep going.



I was going to hit forty without selling a script, a novel or making my first feature movie…but damned if I was going to go into it depressed. I decided that I wanted to give my kids and my wife something special.’ Darius and his girls did it all: they cleaned, they painted and did it everything on their own. It was the ultimate DIY project and it was no game for kids, only that it was.


New York, New York

We’ve already learned that Darius was a man of many talents and was a kind and loving husband. Not only did he want to surprise his wife with the project of a lifetime by building her the dream backyard, he was also kind enough to send her on a five-day vacation in one of the most popular and fun cities in the world, New York City. He made her think that the trip was just an early birthday gift just so she will have no idea about his plans.


Listening to her dreams

In the ten years that my wife and I had been together, she’d probably told me a hundred times that she wished that one day she could go to New York. She had also mentioned that she wished we had a place that was outside to exercise and watch the girls play at the same time.’ Darius knew how important all these things were for his wife, and he probably felt it even more strongly after he knew he could die very soon.


A memory caught on video

By the time I got back from dropping her off at the airport the lumber was waiting for me at the house…I went crazy building things like a madman.’ Dar decided that this once-in-a-life-time project is worth documenting. The father of two made a time-lapse video of how he was progressing with his project so he would have this memory for the rest of his and his family’s life.


Daddy’s little helpers

Thankfully for Stevens, he didn’t need to do it all himself as he had the best little helpers he could ask for, his two little girls of course. If you happen to watch the video, you will get to see the sweet girls in full power on their dad’s project. One of them even took the time to give her dad a touching gesture by writing on the chalkboard ‘I love you daddy.’ We bet that knowing she will soon have her dream playhouse helped the situation.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 1.25.46 PM

Surprise number 2

If you wonder whether Stevens finished his project on time, before his wife returned from her trip, then the answer is no and it turned out to be more of a hassle for the the hard-working dad than anything: ‘I had to send her away again to take another four days off to go to her sister’s baby shower while the girls and I worked away.’ Now that’s an even better surprise.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.03.07 PM

Running out

Stevenes may have jumped over his head with this planning, and unfortunately he thought he wasn’t going to be able to finish the project as he ran out money. ‘I didn’t have enough money for a lot of the backyard, so I had to take another job on some weekends to be able to buy more wood.’ Stevens eventually found himself building one more deck on commission so he could collect those last few bucks he was missing.


Super dad

The whole situation must have been extremely stressful for Darius, he had this deadline he set up for himself and he had to take care of his two girls while needing to take care of his own well being. According to Setevens, although it took a lot of effort and juggling, he still thought it was worth it. After long ten days of hard work, this ‘clueless dad’ turned out to be a ‘super dad’. The project was done and the amazing thing was that the cost of it all was less than $5,000.


Surprise number 3

Can you imagine Darius’s wife’s reaction when she came back? Well, she absolutely loved it! She was touched by the gesture and Darius further explained about her reaction: ‘When she walked through the back door, her jaw literally dropped. When I took her around and showed her everything, she was still stunned. And then she started crying… I think she really felt how much I love her and our daughters and was trying to express that through this simple creation. I felt very proud and that the hard work had been worth it.’


Proud of his masterpiece

According to Stevens, the hard work seriously paid off. Not only his wife’s reaction was priceless, the whole project made a life-changing difference in Darius’s life. ‘The kids love their new space. And I feel strangely satisfied. It felt good to build this. It sort of gave me a renewed verve for keeping going. Pursuing my dreams and taking the struggle that comes with that in [my] stride.’


Being thankful

After the whole project was done, it was time to thank the people who were there for him this whole time. At the end of the video which documented everything he had done and all the hard work that it took, Stevens took the time to thanks all the people who were involved. He thanked everyone from his close friends, his family, the website which sparked his creativity – Pinterest, and he also thanks the talk show queen, Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen?



Thanking Ellen DeGeneres sure deserves some further explaining. Well, apparently, when Darius found himself at the lowest point of his life, he found comfort in watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He ended up watching the popular show every night which turned out to be a positive thing in his life. Stevens found the show to be inspiring, especially the guests who were on the show. It put it all in perspective for the super dad.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.04.48 PM


It has been around three years since Darius celebrated his 40th birthday, his most important birthday possible till this day. Needless to say that the video went viral and it has nearly 3.5 million views on YouTube. It’s safe to say that Darius had Pinsanity – Pinterest Personality Disorder. Darius became so obsessed with Pinterest, but in a way that was the light at the end of the tunnel for him. The video also has more than 200 comments, which means people were truly impressed.

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 2.05.31 PM

A viral fanbase

Stevens, who portrayed himself as a ‘clueless dad’ in the beginning, won himself a big fanbase due to the viral video. One of the users wrote after watching the video: ‘What an incredible dad and hubby you are. That is truly inspiring. Amazing!’. Another user wrote, ‘It takes a lot of vision to pull that together, and a lot of work. Congratulations.’ Others were joking about how Stevens can now work on their house.


More good news

Finally, good news just kept coming for the super dad. It was about time he would receive some good news after all the struggles he has been through. Stevens’ mom got him connected with dermatologist who agreed to take his case as a charity patient which meant that Darius could get the best treatment without going into debt. Stevens is clear of cancer as of the beginning of 2016. Amazing.


Feeling great and grateful

There’s no doubt that building this incredible backyard has been the project of his lifetime. Darius felt the need to thank his friends and family. In his blogpost he concluded: And most of all to my wife and daughters who give me more happiness than I could’ve ever asked for. Every. Single. Day. Darius’s story is inspiring and really puts everything else in perspective about what really matters in life.