I wasn’t expecting the way having a girl would wreck me—but in the moments after he picks you up and holds you, takes a million pictures of you, smiles at you like I’ve never seen him smile before, I know I’m wrecked.
And it’s not really about you. It’s not your fault. I just wasn’t expecting the way your coming into the world would rip open the loss I thought I buried a long time ago when I watched the casket close on my dad. I was nine—he was my idol.
Sometimes, there’s this way you look at your dad, my husband, that brings back the things I tried to shut out from when I was a child and had a dad. I feel vulnerable in those moments, I guess, not as strong of a mom as I want to be. I tell myself I want you to be happy, to know your worth as a girl and a woman. But I feel like I’m crumbling inside sometimes.
I’m so glad you have a dad who holds you close, and sometimes so sad because I miss that so much.
I try to talk about it to people. But life is good and there’s always that temptation to shut out the storm cloud because people only want the positive now. It’s what they said to me when I was young and didn’t know where the one guy who looked at me with all the affection in the world had gone.
They told me I had it pretty good, those people who never knew what it was like to go from the girl sitting across her dad at a restaurant to just a girl who made such an such grades, liked such and such an author, and never knew she once had a dad sing to her before bedtime.
I still don’t know how to say you can have it pretty good when the good you have isn’t the good you long for.
People who don’t know what that’s like talk about Heaven, God, Jesus. Most of them have parents, siblings, friends from a childhood that didn’t go haywire with the unexpected event of death. Most of them don’t know what it’s like to watch a parent buried young and question if God had it out for you because of it. Most of them don’t know what it’s like to wonder every day where that person went who cared enough about you to take you out to dinner or ask about dance practice.
There’s this way you’re coming into the world wrecked me—the moment I heard you were a girl and saw your daddy staring into your face. I want you to know it’s OK that I’m wrecked because of how your entry into the world opened a door on a piece of my past. Sometimes, I don’t know what it really means to be a daddy’s girl the way I know you’re going to be.
But if you ever see me crying because you’re a teenager and arguing with your dad, or signing you and your father up for another father-daughter dance even if you and your dad both hate dancing, it’s because I’m so happy you get to know this gift of being a daddy’s girl.
Even if I am a little wrecked because of it.