Dad of girls

Teenage Wasteland

Something about today felt a little different.   I cut my workout a few minutes short because I wanted to see my family before they all left for the day this morning.  Okay, was I just subtly bragging that I go to the gym, maybe.  But, it’s important to the story I guess.   Anyway, I pulled in the driveway as they were all walking to their car, my wife, two daughters and the dog all just about to start their days.  I jumped out of my car and saw the kids were already in my wife’s car, so I walked over and opened the door.  And, the kids barely even knew I was there.  They were in a screaming match about a yellow tank top.  This one stole it, no she didn’t, how did it end up in the laundry, where did it come from, I hate you, you tell lies, you always steal… you know a completely normal fight between a 13 and 15 year old.  I decided today wasn’t the day for one of my dumb jokes so I just shut the door and started to make my way to my wife who was letting the dog pee before he was getting in the car.  She looked at me and said “Aren’t you glad you came home early to see that?”…

A friend of mine just announced him and his wife were going to have a baby girl.  He sent out the standard “serves me right for making fun of you for having daughters” text.   It brought me back to when my wife was pregnant and those feelings of “A GIRL????  My life is OVER.”  All those thoughts of “okay, just be a good enough Dad where they don’t need to become a stripper”. I was petrified.

But, as most Dads will tell you, having girls is the BEST.  But, it is not something you can tell someone, they won’t believe you, just as I didn’t when it was said to me. You have to live it, there are no books or shortcuts.  But, you soon find out that there is nothing quite like the love of a daughter.  It’s the best gift I have ever received.

They change you, they humble you, they teach you, they introduce you to these weird things called feelings.  Complicated and simple, sometimes a bowl of ice cream can solve a problem and sometimes it takes hours and hours of tears.  They make no sense, and perfect sense all at once.

You question who you are as a Man because of them.  You watch what you say to their Mom and you watch how you treat her, because they see EVERYTHING.  You start to see the world from a woman’s eyes.  If you play your cards right they let you into their worlds completely.  They trust you.  You even think that a woman should probably be President.

My daughters and I have a really great relationship.  I’m very proud of that.  They don’t just come to me when they need to laugh, they also come to me when they need to cry.  I’m so lucky they let me be involved.

Just recently I had an hour car ride home with my youngest daughter who just turned 13.  After we fought over who would have control of the music, a battle I surprisingly lost and now have a record of 0 wins and 3,457 losses, we got to talking. She had just done really well at her cheerleading competition and so we got to talking about all that.  As a guy you think it’s just a dumb dance they do, but there is so much more involved in it.  My daughter was talking about how there are a million things you have to be doing while you are raising a girl up over you head in one of the stunts.  It’s fascinating to hear, not because I necessarily care about the art of basing a flyer in a routine, it’s fascinating to hear her talk about something she is passionate about.  I learn what makes her tick in those conversations.

But, then the conversation moved into a much heavier place, when we talked suicide.  I think there was a song on or something and it was about taking your life.  And my daughter just started asking questions.  We talked for 45 minutes about it.  We talked about the reasons some people do it, and about what I do when I feel depressed or lonely or whatever.  I didn’t shy away from any of the questions.  I told her what I do when I feel shitty. I find her or her sister and I spend some time with them.  Something dumb, like watching a show with them or running to the store with them gets me back to reality.  Or I just visit my god daughter and I always make my way out of my funk. I got to ask her what she does when she thinks the world is collapsing around her.  She mentioned a few times where she thought her life would never be the same after she fought with a friend or had a very difficult practice and she mentioned that after a few days her life was back to where she completely forgot why she was even sad.  She mentioned just riding out the wave cause she always knew it would bring her to the shore, or that she always knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. She told me she remembers little moments in her life that brings a smile to her face.  She’s smart beyond her years.   I loved that morbid, dark conversation we had.  Because it was real, and because she knows there isn’t a conversation I will shy away from.

A little earlier in the night the kids and wife were ganging up on me while I talked about tattoos. I was asking them what designs they think I should get and I mentioned I wanted to get a full sleeve tattoo. They said they didn’t want me to get a full sleeve arm tattoo and I should just get one that will be covered up by a short sleeve t shirt. I said I wanted a sleeve tattoo because I really liked the idea and look it would give me. I would be such a badass with the tattoo and my youngest said “yeah, you’ll look so tough when you are crying in public again”… See, I loved that comment. She knows me, she knows that a million tattoos can’t cover up that I will cry at something that makes me proud, or even something that reminds me of “us”.

I live in a house with two teenage daughters and a beautiful wife. There isn’t a baseball glove in sight or a basketball hoop in my driveway. I don’t know if today is an easy day, or if I am walking into a war between my girls, but it is exactly where I want to be. I think of myself and my relationships with my girls like a solar panel. I store up all those experiences, conversations, laughs, tears, and all those “boring” moments, and I use them when it’s darkest in my life. When it’s dark out the light is always on, you just have to know where to look to find it.



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