Forced appreciationĀ 

Today is supposed to be a day of appreciation. We’re meant to express gratitude towards our fathers for all that they have done. We have the same exact kind of holiday for mothers, so neither goes unnoticed, and neither receives unequal praise and thanks for what they have done. I know providing for your children is an amazing thing all in its own, but I believe there’s more to being a parent. When I think of why I love those that I love, it’s not for material possessions they have provided me. I appreciate the fact that I live comfortably, that there’s food on the table, that I live in a house fully equipped with all the amazing comforts I’m fortunate to have. Though I don’t love these things. I could be happy living in the smallest house, with just a comfy blanket and bed to lay on, and two amazing role models (parents) by my side. So honestly, if push came to shove and I had to cutback on how I live, it wouldn’t bother me. I live for relationships, experiences, and for the opportunity to explore and apprecatiate all of the nuances life has to offer, not for extravagant things or simply a big house. 

Being a father is much more than the money you all bring home, I hope you know that. The post I recently wrote, titled “love” describes exactly what I believe being a father truly entails. Yes you can go to your 9-5 job or whatever job you have, but that job isn’t the one that earns the love from your child. It’s the job of being a father to your children that deserves and earns that love from that little human being. Being the leader, the protector, the gentle giant that they can look up to, the level headed arguer who would also never raises his voice at his little babies, who deals with matters rationally, who is not quick to temper, who facilitates a calm, loving, fear free home for his children to rest. That’s a father. 

I think men have lost what it means to be a father. Some fathers get offended when mom is the first person their child thinks to call for when they get scared, sad, upset, or need advice. Though if you think about it, the moms have earned this priority. The children don’t instinctually reach out to their mom simply because she’s their mom and they simply believe moms are the first parent to go to. They go to her because she has spent the time to care for them since they were just a little baby. Moms have the luxury of staying at home typically, for a few months or years, and naturally get more time to bond with the child. Though there’s more to it. Many times, our mothers don’t get stern and cold when upset at us, they use a motherly-authoritative tone when dealing with us. They also ask the things that fathers never dare to. They ask you if you have crushes, and they are genuinely curious. Typically it’s not simply so they can monopolize your time so you’re not near the opposite sex. They have conversations with you. Real conversations. They know your likes and dislikes. When the dad goes away and it’s just the kids, or just the daughters, or just the sons home with mom, she makes it fun. The occasion calls for a movie night, with popcorn, or ice cream, or simply a good discussion of the movie after it’s finished.  

Now I’m not saying all dads don’t do those things, or have that bond, but personally I’ve never experienced it.

If I were to say which parent understands me the best though, I’d have to say it’s my mom. Sure she has her moments of not-so-great-parenting, but she knows when she’s made a mistake, and she appalogizes. And the fact that she truly gets me makes up for all of those times.

Though I love my dad, I don’t share the same bond. I’d be heartbroken if he were gone, but I wouldn’t feel the same void that I would if it was my mom who was gone. 

I have fond memory’s of him when I was younger, but even then it was still off. My dad knows what truly comprises me just as much as a stranger would. It’s saddening, but it’s true. 

Today I really wish I could be more appreciative, write something more heartfelt in that darn card, but I can’t muster that kind of false praise. I could write the longest paragraph in that stupid thing, but it would all feel like lies. You have your good days, but your bad days diminish them. You don’t get me. You’d take that card to heart, possibly even cry because it “touched you so much” and maybe I’d cry too, because you don’t even know who I am. You don’t have the sense to realize I’ve never felt more disconnected. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll write a kickass card, and it will make you smile, make you feel loved, but it’s not real. 

I’m sorry. 

Love

You find yourself more in love than you ever thought possible. There she lays, in your arms, perfect in every way. Every fiber of your being reacts in an instant to the reception of this precious little gift. She is your baby girl. You immediately acknowledge how fragile this little human is. In that moment, you vow to yourself right then and there, that you will do all you can to ensure that she is treated with the utmost care. She is a reflection of the love shared the night she was created. She is the product of the 9 months of cautious nurture and care of the beautiful womb that carried her. You felt this gorgeous baby’s kicks at night as your wife lay fast asleep. You anticipated her arrival, picturing how this new presence would change your entire world. What would this little bundle of joy look like? Smell like? Sound like? Interact like? Would she have you smile? Your eyes? Would you see a glimpse of yourself in her as her eyes sparkled with glee each time she saw your face reappear in a simple game of peek-a-boo? Many questions flooded your mind at night. Now everything has stilled, and the only question you have is right in front of you: “how will you let this precious child know everyday, without a doubt in her mind, that her daddy loves her?”

Days, weeks, months, years go by, and you see her grow up. She is everything you could have wished for and more. It’s not exactly what she’s done, or said, but in a way, it’s all of that. It’s the perfect imperfection of this little girl, the glimpses of you and your wife in this unique individual. Her smile radiates through the room. She has your blue eyes, she has your wife’s chestnut hair. When she wants something, she imitates your old puppy dog eyes that you used to use on your own parents– sometimes even on your wife as well (in a joking manner). She has an infectious giggle that brings a smile to your face every time you hear it.

One day she comes home from high school, and she tells you she met a boy. The smile on her face gives you the impression that this boy isn’t all that bad for her. You give her a light-hearted mock interrogation anyway, and ask her “does he make you happy?” “does he treat you right?” “is there really a guy out there perfect enough for my little girl?” Then you mention one last thing: “make sure that if he ever treats you any less than you deserve, you walk away, because you’re the most precious gift anyone ever could receive and he sure as hell better know that.” That night, thoughts race through your mind. You remember her first words, the tears you kissed away when she fell down and scraped her knee for the first time, the pride you had when she finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels, the times you’d come in the kitchen and find her and your wife baking cookies, her first day of school. It all felt like it was just yesterday. Now she’s going on her first date. Your little girl has acknowledged the opposite sex in a new way. She no longer sees these boys as friends anymore. There is the potential that one of these days, she may even kiss one of these boys. That thought is tough to handle. This is your baby, the one you held in your arms. You face the fact that your little girl is now a sexual being, but with that comes primal intentions. How do you know this young boy will treat your daughter right, when all of his urges arise from such an primal place. Will he be able to control himself? On the other hand… will your little girl want him to control himself? A first kiss is enough to think about, but then there is so much more that could follow. Your sweet little baby’s body is seen as a sexual object now. Guys want to touch her and she wants to touch them too. Your darling’s sweet little hands and mouth may go places that would make you cringe. Picturing these things makes you sick. She’s your baby. The little girl that is only meant to be held by your loving, fatherly hands. It was only days ago that she was too small, to young, to walk on her own. So you held her in your arms for hours, staring at that spectacular little face. Your love for her was unconditional from the start, and will remain so until the end. You think of how the guys she will encounter won’t see her in the same light you have. Their love for her, if even love, won’t be unconditional for sure. Some will expect things of her. Some things you don’t even want to think about. The thoughts are put on pause, because you realize you’ll go crazy if you continue to let them ruminate.

So more days, weeks, months, years go by. Your little girl is officially a sexual being now (not that she wasn’t in the first place). There are many things that have happened that she hasn’t told you. She’s had her first kiss, she has experienced much more than that…, and she has gone through heartbreak. Guys have treated her with disrespect– she walked away just like you told her to— though sometimes she didn’t acknowledge it soon enough. The first boy to see your little angel’s unclothed, uncovered, innocent, bare body, trivialized it by jerking off to porn the following night. That boy that gave her her first kiss also gave her her first heartbreak when he cheated on her with a sexy cheerleader while he was intoxicated at a high school party. She dated the nice guys, the good guys, the losers, the jerks, the jocks. She also found the love of her life along the way, who treats her well, loves her in every way possible, and brings out the best in her every day. He’s the boy she’s bringing to thanksgiving when she comes home during the break. Little do you know, he’s the one. He encapsulates everything you could have ever wished for in a man that would hold your daughters heart.

Now don’t feel too relieved, there was another who almost won her heart before she fell for your new potential son-in-law. With this other man, things appeared to be perfectly fine. He was successful and had a fairly good income. He knew that this beautiful girl was too good for him. Yet when a problem would arise, he would blame her, he’d go into denial and would never apologize for his actions. Sometimes he would apologize— but only when it benefited him. If they would have married, he would have barked the words “get out of MY house” when he was frustrated. He would say things to tear her down, not build her up. Any accomplishment of hers would be overlooked. When enraged, he’d bring fear into your little girl’s heart. She would run to the closest room and lock herself inside until he had calmed down. He’s the one who would have stormed out of the house at  2 am in the morning, slamming the door behind him, screeching the car tires as he peeled out of the drive way. He would have been the one to bring doubt, fear, and sadness to your little girl’s heart those nights, making her ask why she deserved this treatment.

No one “deserves” to be treated that way. In this alternate ending, your little girl just found herself in a bad situation. Could you have imagined though, the heartache you would have felt for your little girl if it had gone that way? Wouldn’t you have wanted to walk straight up to that evil man and look him right in the eye and tell him off? Tell him he doesn’t deserve someone as amazing and precious as your little girl?

What if I told you there is a simple way to make sure that this never happens to your daughter/ future daughter? No one would ever break the heart of your bundle of joy, and it involves only one simple task: Treat everyone else’s baby girls with care. That woman you slept with tonight, that girl you’ve been planning to bang, the girl you cheated on when you were younger, the girl you only intend to sleep with. All of them are someone’s baby girl. Treat them as so. If not, how would you ever expect someone else to treat your’s with the utmost care?