When I was pregnant with my first, I admit, secretly I was hoping for a boy. I mistakenly believed that this is what my husband wanted, what every man wants. An heir to his throne, someone to pass down the family name, a little buddy to play football and hockey with. I imagined watching their matching blond heads, bobbing across the soccer field. I pictured them wrestling, camping and dirt biking together.
What I didn’t realize was just how amazing a father-daughter bond could be.
My parents divorced when I was a baby. My dad was not a regular feature in my life. He was a unicorn parent – a mythical creature that rarely made an appearance. My mom raised my older sisters and me by herself for years. And she was awesome. She was enough parent for all of us. She taught me what strength looks like. What motherhood looks like. What parenting well looks like. I did not feel shafted or left behind or abandoned. I felt loved.
The day our daughter was born I was overwhelmed with the enormity of becoming a mother. I worried about whether or not I could get the hang of breastfeeding, if I would be a good parent, if God really knew what He was doing entrusting this precious life to me. Her daddy? He was just overwhelmed with joy. With wonder. With love. On that day and every day since.
One day, when my daughter was about two years old, I watched my husband dance with her. Twirling her, holding her, laughing with her. Singing to her. 
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey…”
It was a common occurrence. One I had witnessed many times. But for the first time, my joy was replaced by sorrow. Not for me. For my dad. For all that he missed out on. For the life he could have had. The love he could have shared. The person he could have been.
My husband and daughter are every cliché. She is daddy’s girl, he is wrapped around her little finger, she is his princess, he is her superhero. But they are so much more.
They are two peas in a pod. They are the same amount of silliness and craziness. They giggle together, play together and have farting parties together.
He is her spiritual mentor, her confidante, her go-to guy, her person. At bedtime they spend hours hanging out and whispering. Solving the mysteries of friendship, life, the Universe, God. In the middle of the night when she wakes up scared, it’s Daddy that she calls to slay the monsters in the shadows and comfort her.
Daily, he shows her what it is to be loved and what loving looks like. In his huge bear hugs, the way he stops and looks in her eyes when he asks, “How was your day?”, the way he listens to her nonstop litany of stories. He shows her what it means to be valued. Respected. Seen. Heard. 
Daily, she shows him she is learning the lessons that love teaches. She knows how to treat others with kindness but also how she deserves to be treated. She has the courage to speak up when others put their heads down. She knows, in the depths of her soul, that she is beautiful. She knows that no matter what mistakes she makes, or wrong turns she takes, that she is loved. 
In all of it, she has learned that she can do and be anything. She is not limited by her gender. He has taken her fishing and to hockey games. He has taught her how to ride a bike, flip a pancake, throw a football, skip a rock. Everything he has done with our sons, he first did with our daughter.
And she knows, without a doubt, that if her earthly father loves and cherishes her this much, she can trust that her heavenly Father does too.
I watch them now. Still dancing. Still twirling. I hear him as he still sings to her,
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey…”
She is older, taller, wiser. She is kind, loving and so beautiful inside and out. She is her father’s daughter.

Heidi Hamm

Heidi Hamm is a writer, wife and mom of twin boys who are nothing alike, and their older sister, who won’t admit that she really does like 80s music. She loves bookstores, Starbucks and peanut butter. You can find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/heidihammwriter/