Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to have two men who have played the role of Dad. My precious daughter has shared this same experience. This has allowed me to re-evaluate what it means to be a Dad, and what makes someone worthy of this title.
To young girls, a Dad is usually a larger-than-life hero. They are strong, supportive, and adoring of their little ones. They sometimes tend to be over-protective, only wanting the very best for their baby girls. The pride in their eyes shines brighter than the sun.
As we grow up, and begin to recognize the humanness of our Dads as they witness our evolution into young ladies, this relationship can become strained. Their need to protect is challenged by our need for independence. How difficult that must be for them to release the grip, knowing that the world is filled with others who do not value their most prized connections.
Sometimes, because our Dads carry wounds from their childhood, they are unable to carry the weight of the burden of Fatherhood as easily as before. Relationships become strained, leaving both parties feeling a little lost and misunderstood. Many years are spent searching for what was lost. This was my experience with my Daddy, whom I was only able to reconnect with during his final days on earth. The forgiveness and acceptance we shared during that time remains one of my life’s greatest blessings.
However, I was extremely lucky to have a Bonus Dad who was a constant, and still is. He didn’t quite know what to do with a little girl when he married my Mom; I was 10. He’s never been an overly affectionate individual, but his love has always been apparent through his support, actions, and conversations. He also grew up lacking a Father figure. But, somehow, has been able to make a life that was more than comfortable, consistent, and accepting of me throughout every stage, including Motherhood. The love he has for my daughter is beyond anything I could ask for her, replicating the adoration I felt from my own Papa. His role of unwavering dedication to my Momma and me has had a tremendous impact on the trajectory of my life, and I am eternally grateful that she chose him for us over 30 years ago.
My daughter’s father has sacrificed so much in his life to live nearby and be available to her. He left his career in the military early to give them 5 years they would not have otherwise shared. The bond they have is precious, and their brilliant minds understand one another deeply, even as she goes through her teen years. I am beyond grateful for the selflessness and hard work he has displayed for the benefit of our daughter.
The man I’m now married to is an awesome Father to his own children, and loves Maggie just the same. He listens to her, empowers and supports her, and I know she is blessed to have another strong man as her Bonus Dad. When she found out at nine years old that we were getting married, she squealed with delight and jumped, flinging her arms in the air. I was certain then, and I still am that he was a blessing to her as much as he is to me.
Fathers come in a variety of forms. But, to their little girls, their love means the world. The decision to show up and be available is really the only thing that matters. There is no such thing as the perfect Dad, only boys who become men, doing the best they can every day to make life a little better for our girls.
Thankful on this Father’s Day for all of the Dads in my life. Wishing every man a memorable Father’s Day, and the blessing of gratitude from those you love and support. 💙