I’ve hung drywall, fixed a wax ring in a toilet, installed a new ceiling fan, updated outlets, and built furniture. I’ve played guitar for over 15 years. I’ve built fires that lasted four days with careful construction and management. I am almost 30 years old. I’ve changed thousands of dirty diapers and have almost ¾ of ‘Tangled’ memorized.
For the life of me, I cannot make a ponytail. It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve looked up videos, read step by step instructions, watched as my wife throws one up in seconds, but for some reason my brain/finger coordination will not allow me to do, what should be a simple task. I’ve sat with my daughter for 10 minutes blow drying and brushing her hair only to look at the hair tie as if it is some alien contraption constructed solely for the purpose of driving me insane. I’ll take a handful of hair, flip the tie around what seems like an eternity only to have it fold back open and drop to the floor with my daughter looking at me like ‘How can you possibly be so stupid?’
It is just a reminder that I can’t be a perfect father. Such a simple task that I should be able to accomplish reduces me to a simpering idiot trying to put together a 10 piece puzzle. But you know what?
I’m ok with that.
One of the things they don’t tell you about parenthood is the constant worry that you are going to mess up your child for life. Though I know the father-son bond is an extremely important relationship, I have no point of reference for it. I do know that the bond of father-daughter is one that is just as important and life-long. I know that I am not only a source of protection and resource; I am also a role-model. My actions throughout her life will help mold her view of relationships and life in general. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t worry that something I’ve done will have some profound effect on her. Though the daddy/daughter relationship is one filled with special joys, it also comes to a point where you have to be a disciplinarian and that means yelling and punishment sometimes.
Now that doesn’t mean you beat your kids or anything like that, but you still have to be strict sometimes. There is no manual that tells you exactly what way of discipline works best, and you can’t reason with a four year old no matter how hard you try. I’ll tell you that the old adage of ‘this will hurt me more than it will hurt you ‘is blindingly true. There is nothing worse than seeing your child cry because you had to punish them, whether it’s time out or taking a toy away. You know that it is necessary to teach them right from wrong, but it never makes it any easier. Because deep down you never want to bring them any sadness. You want to take care of them and make them laugh all the time and have fun, but you have a responsibility as a parent to raise them right and help them grow into well-adjusted adults someday.
You will second guess yourself and you will probably hate yourself at times. I can tell you there have been more than enough nights where after having to enact some form of parental learning initiative, that I have later that evening snuck into the room while she is sleeping to just rub her back or kiss her cheeks and whisper to her that daddy will always love her. Parenting is full of yin-yang moments like this. Going from being the enforcer to the silly jester, sometimes within the span of minutes. Sometimes it makes you want to cry (and sometimes it literally does) because you want to do the right thing as a parent but also hate to have to be the ‘bad guy’ even if you know doing so is the best thing for them. I’ve questioned my parenting many times, I’ve sat up nights wondering and hoping that I am a good dad, and praying she won’t hate me someday.
But there are other days where I feel confident. I know that I am trying to do my best for her, even though that means making mistakes. I try to understand her as much as possible and I will continue to do that throughout her life. She will be a woman someday and I am at the distinct disadvantage that I cannot possibly fully understand her gender, but I’m willing to try. I want to try to understand her as much as possible. I want to be there for her always. I want her to grow up and always think fondly of our relationship, because that is so important to me.
I spoke earlier about the special bond between fathers and daughters. It is a bond that is spoken of a lot but not a lot is written down. Searching the web I find some resources but I don’t see enough father’s speaking about the bond they have with their daughters. Some of it is that as men it is harder for us express our emotions or be open about the meaning of our relationships with our kids. I think it is time that we started as a gender to be open and honest about it. To let our daughters know that the bond is just as important to us as it is to them.
It isn’t easy to put into words just how special the relationship is between a dad and his daughter. I can only see it from my perspective but I know how special it is to me. Whether it is playing Candyland for the 100th time together or just going grocery shopping and having her help me pick out the food, it all adds up. Whether it is the gentle touch of her hands on my face, the big hugs, or dancing through the living room together; it all means something incredibly important. I love teaching her about the world around her and seeing that spark in her eyes as she takes it all in. I love when we get incredibly silly together and both end up snorting and wheezing from laughing so hard. There are so many moments I have to think on that make me proud of not just her, but the way our relationship is building.
She is my little girl. She will always be my little girl. No matter who she is or what she wants to be, she will always remain my precious little daughter, and I will never stop loving her. Nothing can make a grown man more emotional than seeing the love between dad and daughter. A man’s daughter is not only a reflection of him physically; she is also a reflection of his sensitive side. She is the softness that men carry inside that is not normally shown to the outside world. Although I still play rough and tumble with my daughter, I can also be incredibly soft and caring. Having a daughter makes us not only protective but gentle too. Our daughters are our world and we would do anything for them without hesitation. When we feel we fail them it is the lowest of the low, but when we do right by them nothing can make you more proud. I know that no matter what I ever would write or create could ever come close to the pride I feel for my daughter. Nothing I do can compare to my part in creating her.
Life can get so hectic sometimes. There are days where it feels like nothing stops from the second I wake up until the next morning where I have to start again. There is also my responsibility and my love for my wife that needs attention, I have job responsibilities and work around the house, and there are some days it feels like I can’t get any time in where I want to. But some days you just force yourself to slow down, to take that extra time as a dad. Because the days go quick and only keep getting quicker.
I may never fully be the best at making a ponytail or being a father, but I will never give up trying.