A note to the dads who love their daughters: 

I can only imagine what you felt when you first heard the words “it’s a girl”.

Were you thrilled? Terrified? Shocked?

Did you envision a world full of pink bows and puffy tutus? Laundry baskets piled high with ruffles and florals, and bathroom counters cluttered with lip gloss and nail polish?

Or, did you picture a tomboy who’d rock a baseball cap and cargo shorts? Hampers filled with mud-covered clothes, hours playing catch, and floors scattered with little cars and toy trains?

Maybe you looked forward to the best of both those worlds.

The first time her soft hand touched your scruffy face, I’m sure it melted your weary heart and softened all your sharp, rough edges.

I bet you never knew your insides could crumble the way they did the first time you had to tell her “no”—the first time you watched her hopeful eyes and joyous smile turn to tears.

But I wonder if you really know the weight of your role in her life? I wonder if you realize how your love has shaped her world.

Dads, you’re heroes in the eyes of your little girls.

You’re invincible giants, and your superpowers kicked in the second you held them.

Through roughhousing and tickle-fights you built up her resilience. You’d toss her in the air and catch her securely every time. You were her first stop for fun and excitement—a walking jungle gym with a safe place to land.

You were the first man to call her beautiful. Inside AND out. And she wholeheartedly believed it until the rest of the world made her question it.

But you never let her forget.

You filled her with the kind of confidence that can only come from a father, instilled self-worth, and showed her how a real man treats a lady.

The stern baritone of your voice grounded her. Though she didn’t know it at the time—and though you hated it, too—she needed your discipline to guide her. She needed your firm presence in learning right from wrong.

To your little girl, you are pillars of strength, trust, and protection.

Whatever her fears, your words could calm them.
No matter her hurts, your embrace could ease them.
Your daughter, oh, how she needed all you had to give.

The bedtime reading adventures. Your words of wisdom. The corny dad jokes that bring out the best little girl giggles. Your standing ovations that proved she’d made you proud, that lifted her spirit and opened her mind to all the possibilities she knew she could achieve because daddy, her hero, said she could.

She still needs it.

Maybe right now, especially today, she’s missing you and remembering it all with teary-eyed fondness.

Maybe you’ve just begun this journey with her. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. Maybe you’ve already walked her down the aisle and turned her over to another man to cherish her as much as you did.

But one thing’s for sure: that smile of hers that glows so bright—you’re a bigger part of it than you’ll ever know.

And you’ll always be there, shining through her.

This post originally appeared on Saturday Morning Coffee

 

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To the Dads of All Daughters

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Vanessa Colangelo

Vanessa Colangelo is a full-time Graphic Designer for a small liberal arts college, and an eclectic soul with a love for all things creative. She lives in upstate NY with her Superman of a husband and is currently navigating the world of new-motherhood with her hilarious and energetic 14-month-old daughter. She's passionate about real-life stories, reading them and telling them, and you can keep up with her writing at Saturday Morning Cofee.