To All the Amazing Dads Raising Daughters: Thank You
Long before I was a parent, I dreamt of having kids. Becoming a mom didn’t feel like a wish or a life goal; more so, it seemed to be an integral part of my soul that would eventually come to life. No matter which path my life took, I would be a mom—of this I was certain.
When I met my husband, he was a teenage boy with tattoos and an affinity for punk music. Today, he’s a 35-year-old man with (even more) tattoos and an affinity for punk music.
He’s also an incredible father.
When I was pregnant with our first child, a lot of people assumed that my husband wanted a boy. All men want a son, people insisted. It’s nature. In some cases, people spoke as if it were an actual accomplishment to have a son; a living trophy that proved their masculinity, as if it weren’t completely up to chance. They’d congratulate men on having a son, reassuring those expecting girls that they’d “get a boy next time” or even joking that they hadn’t been “man enough” to produce a son. (What?!?)
I’m more than a little relieved this wasn’t the mindset in our house.
My husband truly didn’t have a preference. We both just wanted to start a family—not produce a male heir for our dynasty—so girl or boy, we’d be thrilled. And a girl it was—a tiny, perfect little person we fell deeply in love with within seconds.
There hasn’t been a single second when my husband wasn’t thrilled to have a daughter.
In a world where babies are immediately smothered in either pink or blue, defining their role in society before they can even talk, my husband lets our daughter take the lead. He has no preconceived notions of how a daughter or a son should be—he just loves his kids, and it shows.
This is not a dad who sits on the sidelines. If our daughter wants to put on a sparkly pink dress and have a tea party, he’s right there pouring the tea. He’s been to endless dance recitals and had his beard covered in colourful barrettes. He’s built backyard forts, played pirates and ninjas, and taught her how to ride a bike. They have built more Lego than I can wrap my head around, and will surely build more.
He may not have mastered the ponytail or the correct amount of conditioner, but lord knows he tries. When our daughter wants to play soccer at the park, he happily steps into goal. He praises her talents, encourages her interests and pushes her to be her best self without putting too much pressure on her. They go skateboarding and snowboarding together, bake cookies and invent science projects. He dances along to Taylor Swift songs in our living room.
He loves her fiercely and unabashedly, like only a parent can love a child. They are best buds and partners in crime, but she isn’t “Daddy’s little girl”—she’s an incredible, smart, funny, loving human being who is also his daughter. He doesn’t own her or control her, but he would protect her with his life. His love for her is endless but gives her the space to be herself. Daughter, son or anyone, this is truly a gift.
And oh, how she adores him back. How could you not, when you’re loved so well?
If our firstborn had been a son, my husband would have done all of these things. The important thing is that he doesn’t not do any of these things because he has a daughter. His parenting is a reflection of who he is, not who our children are.
A year and a half after our daughter was born, our second child arrived—a son, and my husband is the same incredible father to him, too. He treats them no differently; no more or no less than the other, with equal shares of love and affection. The same hugs and encouragement, and the same headaches and time outs. (Kids are kids, right?)
My heart may have told me early on that I was going to be a mom, but my husband is the person who helps make this life real each and every day. He is everything I could dream of for our daughter and the best possible role model for our son.
To him and all of the amazing dads out there, thank you. You love hard, and you’re loved back.