Friday, April 15, 2016

My First Daughter - How we built our special Daddy/Daughter relationship

My favorite picture the 2 of us from years ago!
Eight years ago today, my First daughter was born. As a hopeless dreamer, I was thrilled to have a daughter. I could imagine the wonderful daddy-daughter relationship we would have.. picturing me as Steve Martin's George Banks character from The Father of the Bride. I could only smile at all of the perfect moments that
would be coming for the both of us. But, as we all know, movies are not always the best reflection of reality, and I will be the first to admit, my daughter's first handful of years were a bit of a challenge for me.

Now, please understand, it wasn't her that was the cause of the friction. Oh no.. It was me. In the moments I was struggling as a papa to my daughter, I would have said it was her that was the difficult one. But now, looking back over all of her wonderful 8 years, I just see that my understanding of that Daddy/Daughter bond was built differently than I expected.

I started my journey as a father of a beautiful daughter in many ways forgetting that my delicate flower was not so much a delicate flower. I expected her to need me more, to listen more, to almost hang from my every word.. I mean .. I'm her daddy! I'm the most special man in her life! I don't know what I was thinking! How incredibly foolish of me, huh?!

So, as I would approach situations with her, I expected to be in charge. But, that's not what the daddy/daughter relationship is all about! The successful dad to a daughter is man that can see that his role is to learn how to be needed by his daughter. For me, I learned that my oldest daughter needed me to figure out how to bring her back when her world seemed out of sorts. She needs a dad that doesn't get frustrated, because she'll take that head on in a battle royal! Instead, she needs me to provide for her a person that can center her when she's scared, hurt, sad, or feeling emotionally out of sorts. She's needs in me a man that models what the right reaction should be when she built up with emotion, and reacting to that pain in her own ways.

I learned how to be her rock, and that role just doesn't happen. I had to research, and try things. I had to be honest with myself when things didn't work. I had to learn to make her growth in becoming a strong, confident woman the center of my world. I had to figure out how to read what she needed of me, and provide that to the best of my ability. All in the name of building that wonderful/trusting daddy/daughter relationship that we both NEED in our lives.

It took awhile to really nail it down, but I can honestly say that I know I've got it now. My relationship with my oldest daughter is something so incredibly special. She can make me laugh harder than most people. Sitting and reading with her this past year, watching her grow in confidence as a student, listening to her sing, or come up with an imaginative dress-up pretend play story with her twin brother just is.. it's just so special for me.

Sure, she's tough. She's a red-headed, Alaskan, Sicilian spitfire. But she's also the most darling, loving, sensitive sweetheart of a girl as any in the world. I love her so much for all that she is to me, and for all of the ways that she has made me a better father and person.

Happy 8th birthday MGM. You are truly amazing.