[Big thanks to The Huffington Post for running this piece and for the sweet shout out from A Mighty Girl.]
First it’s this…
“Oh man, you’re having a girl? Dude, you’re in trouble!”
And then it’s all of this…
“Oh, wait until they are crawling!”
“Oh, wait until they are walking!”
“Oh, wait until the terrible twos.”
“Oh, wait until they start talking!”
“Oh, wait until they start talking back!”
“Oh man, you’re having another girl? Dude, you’re in trouble!”
“Oh, wait until they want a cellphone!”
“Oh, wait until the eye rolling!”
“Oh, wait until they like boys!”
“Oh, wait until the tween years!”
“Oh, wait until middle school/high school/college!”
“Oh, wait until they get want to get married!”
Here’s the little secret they don’t tell you at the sports bar or in the mommy & me classes you aren’t invited to, fellas. You can go right ahead and forget all that shit. All of it.
Here’s my simple message to all dads of daughters, especially guys who are just now starting out on this journey, those guys welcoming newborn baby girls into their lives. It is a message I’ve taken to actually saying out loud to fellas I see with very young girls, and if you know me at all you know talking to strangers about anything remotely related to parenting (or, um, anything at all) is not a strong suit of mine, but I’ve jumped that personal introvert hurdle because it is really fucking important that dads receive a counterweight to balance out all the shit talk they will hear in regards to their daughter(s) and their role as dad to a daughter: It only gets better.
Yeah, it gets challenging. No shit, Sherlock. Parenting isn’t always Pinterest-perfect cupcakes and Instagram-worthy rainbows, but why would you want it that way anyway? What a colossal bore to have everything scrubbed and sanitized, silver spoons and phony smile photo packages. Challenging is good! Challenging situations make us think, evolve, grow, change, get better, and helps us find new ways to love the people we adore so much already. Yeah, your precious little princess will eventually crawl, walk, talk, talk back, crave some overpriced technology, be sweet on boys and/or girls, awkwardly grow into their tween years, have their heart broken, break a few herself, enter high school, and maybe go off to college. That is all absolutely true but there is nothing in your daughter’s timeline that you need to fear. Nothing. The only thing worth fearing as the dad of a daughter is not being there to share in her experiences; to be a steady knee to hold onto as she props herself up learning to walk, to be an example of calm in the face of adversity as she tests her limits as a toddler, to defuse the tension with funny eyes in response to her eye rolling, to teach her how to be a good digital citizen on social media with her new phone, to hold her tight while saying nothing when she goes through her first breakup, to know that even though you are a ‘fixer’ by nature that there are moments in her life when she’ll need to cry into your shoulder or scream her lungs out and to know that all that’s required of you in those moments is to be present, to not live life through her but alongside her as daddy, mentor, confidant, counselor, consoling presence, friend, and dad again.
I need you to hear this and believe this, for I know it to be true: It only gets better.
The conversations get better. The jokes get better. The hugs get better. The laughs get better. The nights out get better. The Saturday mornings get better. The concerts get better. The love, it gets better. And stronger. It all gets better.
So the next time some blowhard warns you of whatever impending doom he insists will befall you as the dad of a daughter, ignore their folly and know that it only gets better.
Last week, I overhead one dude say to another dude “Oh man, you’re having another girl? Dude, you’re in trouble!” to which the 2nd dude replies, dejectedly, “I know”. To which I reply, “sounds like your daughters are the ones really in trouble, if you think having two of them is really a problem…’cause it’s a gift, bro. It’s a beautiful, remarkable gift to have daughters, because it only gets better from here.”