Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Dads and Daughters

It really was the most wonderful time of the year. And by that I mean the week between Christmas and New Year when Ford Motor Co. shuts down, forcing all its employees, including my husband to retreat to their homes.

The first few days, I must admit, were a bit odd. Though the loneliness of being at home with two little ones is at times palpable, we have settled into our own routine, and having someone else plop into the middle of it was at first a bit awkward. But once we got over that hurdle it
quickly became clear: love was in the air.

Hey now, this is not that kind of post. Sure, it was great to reconnect with my husband, blah blah blah. We don't get nearly enough quality time together yadda yadda yadda. But this is not about us, not exactly. In fact, it's about my husband and another woman. I have good reason to suspect he's got a thing for a certain gorgeous, dark-haired, blue-eyed babe. She's had her eye on him for months now, but it's taken him a while to come around. I've seen the tell-tale signs: stolen glances, soft giggles from behind closed doors, the sparkle in his eyes. You'd think I'd be jealous but in fact I'm thrilled. Because over the past few weeks I watched my husband start to fall in love with his little girl.

With Baby #1, those loving feelings seemed to come more naturally for my husband. While the arrival of every child is guaranteed to take your breath away, there's just no word to describe the awe that comes with that first special delivery. Everything is so new, so remarkable, so incredibly lovable. Baby's first bath! Baby's first spit up! Baby's first Arbor Day (celebrated of course with a matching bib and onesie)!

It also helped that Baby #1 was a boy, making the bonding process a bit more obvious. With Noah's arrival my husband could see deep into the future, envisioning the two of them tinkering together on the old car in the garage, watching football games on the couch, making armpit noises and other such manly endeavors. And 2.5 years later, it's not difficult for a man to connect with a little creature who is 34 pounds of pure boy. Wrestling! Trains! Boogers!
Then along came a certain sweet baby girl. Sure, my husband loved her from the start in the way all parents love their children. He just didn't seem to know quite what to *do* with her. She was so delicate, so feminine, so soft, this little creature. So different from that solid mass of a brother. Her clothes, aside from being so tiny, were so frilly, so And they came with a whole new world called "accessories." Matching socks, diaper covers, headbands and bows... it's enough to scare any red-blooded man away. And I think it did.

In my husband's defense, the early stages of a baby's life (especially a breastfed baby) don't provide the most accessible opportunities for bonding. Between his work schedule and her seemingly incessant feeding and diaper schedule, he spent the first few months either looking at the back of her head or the bottom of her... well, bottom. And let's be honest- until they hit about the 3-month mark, babies are basically blobs. Lovely, wonderful, magical blobs, but blobs. But then out of the darkness of sleepless nights and explosive diapers comes... a personality! Mix that with a long stretch off work spent at home, add in the magic of the holidays, sprinkle with the world's sweetest giggle and a gurgle that sounds remarkably like
"Da-da," and you've got the recipe for magic.

So I think it's time we make this relationship official. Since this is a topic I know a thing or two about (my own love affair going strong nearly 4 decades later), I'll perform the ceremony.
Do you, sweet baby girl, take this man to be your lifelong hero? Do you promise to keep him wrapped securely around your little finger, to hold his heart in your tiny hands? Do you take him in sickness (including, but not limited to stuffy noses, ear infections, croupy coughs) and in health (and I know his seems great right now, but trust me one day far into the future it may start to fail and it will break your heart but that's when he'll need you more than ever)? Will you obey him most of the time until you're a teenager and even then try to go easy on him because he really does want what's best for you even though you might not see it at the time but eventually you'll come to understand this when you're much, much older?

And you, Daddy... do you promise to love, honor and cherish her even when the drama sets in? Will you take her for richer (which she will make your life) and for poorer (which she will make your wallet)? Do you promise to have and to hold her even when some dumb boy breaks her heart (without actually blaming her for falling for a dumb boy no matter how dumb he clearly is because she needs to figure that part out for herself even though it can take a long time, like potentially years which I'm sure will feel like decades for you)? For as long as you both shall live (which I'm sure will seem like not very long when she stays out past her curfew and you feel like you're going to die of worry)?


You may kiss the girl. Over and over and over again.


  1. I still have yet to wear the "mother" hat myself, and yet you can, so easily, bring a tear to my eye... darn it Mona! :)

  2. This is so sweet. When we first got our kids (as foster parents), the baby was the only one of the three who willingly went to my husband. He'd give her the asthma treatments and sing to her, and I'd try not to be jealous.

    I wanted to be holding her. But I had her squabbling, ornery ... okay, often equally sweet ... siblings to contend with. They did NOT want to cuddle. They did NOT want a song. They wanted to go HOME.

    Eight years have passed, and we've negotiated family successfully. Oh, how I love these kids. But all things being equal, she still has a thing for Dad. And I don't blame her ... so do I!

    Heidi Saxton
    Contributor "" and founder of the "Extraordinary Moms Network"