Tuesday, August 14, 2012

on being the father of a daughter

That being a father suits me does not surprise me at all.

I always desired marriage, preferring it overwhelmingly to "the chase."  I value stability and reliability over impetuousness and indulgence.  Because of this, I am disinclined to suggest that my love of fatherhood is based off of any inherent personal virtue.  Rather, I have quite likely been an old man from the time of my birth.

Though it is a cliche mocked by our contemporaries, we didn't care whether our baby would be a boy or girl - we only cared about his/her health.  After two miscarriages, that sentiment actually carries some weight.

When we found out that our first viable pregnancy was carrying a girl, we were, at first, elated by her health and development.  Subsequently, I was almost immediately melancholic at the idea of having to one day give her away in marriage.  I am not much one for "living in the moment."

Much time has passed since that downcast moment in the ultrasound exam room.  Our daughter was born healthy and has now spent a vibrant six months on this planet [outside the womb].

While I am sure that I will love having a son, should God ever bless us in that way, in the time since our daughter's birth, I have realized that being the father of a daughter plays perfectly to everything I want to be as a man.

Any guy who has ever let out a satisfying whoop while watching Taken or Bad Boys II (during the "first date" scene) can testify, we have a bent to protect the ladies in our lives.  I swiftly squish spiders and mean-mug flirty toddlers at church in defense of my daughter.  Gun ownership seemed overly soaked in machismo before I had a daughter.  Now it seems fairly sensible.  In 10 years, it may become a necessity.

The boy or man who wishes to do my daughter harm will face a nemesis who makes Saddam Hussein look like a Care Bear.  Consider this your warning.

Thankfully, providing for my family in this day and age does not mean slugging out of a cave with a club in tow, hoping to bring back some Kentucky Fried Brontosaurus for dinner.  Still, it is never difficult to find motivation to work these days.  Her pretty blue eyes may make it difficult to justify leaving the house, but the drive to put pureed food in her yet-toothless mouth gives purpose to even loathsome tasks while on the clock.

Then there is levity.  Perhaps the best thing about being the father of a daughter is the increased quotient of silliness in our home.  Don't get me wrong, there was a reasonable amount here before, but now it has reached absurd proportions.  Singing, dancing, silly voices, impromptu puppet shows, and a host of undignifying noises and tactics are all on the table for inducing smiles and laughter from our tiny tyrant.  The world gets the defender, provider face, and she sees it enough to know she is safe.  Only she gets the clown-in-chief face, the quietly desired reward for the labor of my hands.

While I am honored to be a source of strength for her, I do those things so I can also be a source of her joy.

I want to be a picture of God and godliness to her.  She will see in her life that mommy is capable of taking out the trash, but she should see that daddy takes joy in serving his ladies.  She will know that discipline and tenderness flow rightly from the same hand and voice.  She will be loved and cherished without condition, and she will be taught and corrected because this is what love does.

I am the father of a daughter, a trustee of a sacred duty, unworthy and unrelenting, but she can just call me "daddy."

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