I came across a strong realization yesterday.
As many of you know, I am a father of two. A very healthy and happy soon to be 14 year old boy, and a soon to be 8 year old daughter.
Now, I have no idea how to be a father. No one does. You really just make it up as you go along. I am mostly worry free when it comes to my son. Being a white male in America pretty much gives you a fantastic chance at being happy, and he is definitely on the right track.
But then there is the question of my daughter. How can I make her happy? Do I constantly tell her how much I love her and how beautiful I think she is? Of course. I encourage her to read, to be "the smart one", and show her that I love her mother more than anything. I want her to see that strong, healthy relationships can and do happen.
But back to my realization. I started looking at the women in my life...and by that, I don't mean sexual. I just mean the women I am around (and conversely, my daughter is around) all of the time. This list would include my wife, my mother, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my two sisters. What my realization had to do with is their relationships with their father. As best as I can tell, the only woman in my daughter's life that had a "strong" relationship with their father was my mother. Everyone else's father was either absent, distant, or had some other mitigating factor that prevented their father from being there during the majority of their growing up.
Now, don't get me wrong, all of the women in my life are wonderful people. They aren't screwed up, and they are what I would consider to be very happy people. In fact, I would say that their father not being around probably made them stronger and played a huge part in who they are today.
My realization? I could NEVER do that to my daughter (or son, for that matter).
I could not imagine life without being able to see my children every day. It would kill me. I couldn't survive. I couldn't stomach the fact that my daughter would grow up without my influence on her life. I know that it is kind of a stereotype that if you want to find the "slutty" girl, find the one with daddy issues. I don't want my daughter to grow up being "the slutty one" or being labeled as such because daddy isn't around.
As a side note, this is not true...I know lots of girls who grew up just fine, and had "daddy issues".
This realization was pretty ground-breaking for me. I see all of these women in my life that didn't have good relationships with their fathers, and it hurts me as a father to know that there were times when they needed their dad around, and he wasn't there. It hurts me to know that they missed out on some of the amazing moments that my daughter and I have shared together. It kills me to know that he wasn't there in some of the most important moments of their lives, and I can't stomach that.
I want my daughter to remember both good things and bad things about me. I want her to remember what I smell like. I want her to remember what it is like to wake up on a Saturday morning and watch cartoons with her dad. I want her to remember that I was there when she couldn't spell "library". I want her to always hold me up on a pedestal, instead of resenting me for never being there.
So for all of you dads out there who are there for your children, I salute you. Isn't it funny how the only thing we really have to do is be there?