Coming into this parenting gig as an “old school man’s man” with a daughter for the first time at 49 found me lying awake at night worrying.
Not only about the stuff I didn’t know but also the stuff that apparently, I’d been doing wrong all my life. How does someone get to 49 years old without knowing you must NEVER wipe your butt in the wrong direction?
Yet despite all of the learning curves, I absolutely loved everything about being Charlie’s dad right from the start.
Her complete dependence on me initially filled me with with fear and terror. But then it developed into a sense of purpose and achievement like nothing else. Having this amazing little miracle relying on me was the most masculine I’d ever felt.
Then just after Charlie’s second birthday, I was thrust into the role of both mother and father.
While I’ve had the amazing support of my mother and sister, it’s been just Charlie and I for the last five years. And in that time, I’ve cried more than I’d cried in the entire 49 years before.
I struggle to hold in the tears every single time Charlie has a needle. I sat in the in the car and cried like a baby outside of Charlie’s first day at kindergarten. I cried at Charlie’s first ballet class and first gymnastics class. There have been so many tear-stained firsts. Yet I feel more masculine than ever.
It’s true, there is something special about the bond between dads and their daughters.
Almost every night for the last five years, Charlie has crawled into my bed to elbow and kick me like some midget ninja. Yet when I tell people this, I’m told she needs to sleep in her own bed.
Why does Charlie need to sleep in her own bed every night? How can I say to her (or more importantly show her) “it doesn’t matter when, where or what it is, if you need me, I’m there for you”? I’d hate to think of her hesitating to call me in the middle of the night when she’s 16 at a party.
At home this kid must be on top of me like a barnacle. I’m not sure why we even have a toilet door anymore. And this seems to be a concern for some.
“How will she cope if she has to be away from you?”
I hear this all the time and yet and Charlie will try anything I challenge her to do and shows no trepidation about being away from me. I’m the one who actually struggles. And I believe the reason is because Charlie and I can’t be too attached.
It’s our rock-solid attachment that allows Charlie to trust me and allows me to guide her. It is our unconditional relationship that frees Charlie from looking for love and to allows her to grow. Charlie shouldn’t have to work for love, not with me and definitely not with any future partner. Charlie needs to see the example of love not being conditional on certain behaviours, compliance or convenience.