All men change the moment they have a daughter. And as you held me, as a newborn, I’m sure you thought about the life I’d live and especially about the man I’d spend the rest of my life with. But now that I’m grown up and life is getting real, I hope you always remember I loved you first.
I know you worried if you’d be able to give me all the things you thought I deserved. I’m sure you worried that you would mess up sometimes. I’m sure you wondered about the person I’d become while still silently promising you'd be proud of me no matter what.
Because you knew that in my life there would be tears I’d shed. You knew that despite the toys you could fix that you still wouldn't be able to fix my first broken heart. You knew there was bound to be unkindness you wouldn’t be able to protect me from. There would be choices I'd have to make without you next to me, telling me what the right one is.
There isn’t a dollar amount I could repay you with because you devoted most of your life to me, as your daughter, I know I can never repay you for the sacrifices you made. Because it wasn’t just money and throwing me a 20 as I ran out the door, not saying "goodbye" as a teenager.
It was the unconditional love between father and daughter that surpassed every phase of my life. It was every hug as a child and every kiss on the cheek as I grew up. It was saying "I love you" just so I knew. It was telling me I was beautiful even when I didn’t believe it sometimes. It was giving me your best advice even though I'd ignore it.
As children, I never saw the wrinkles across your forehead as bills came in. All I saw was “Daddy can I buy this?’’ as I ran off with my favorite new doll or toy. I didn’t know what you did during the day all I knew was “Daddy had to work.” I lived my lives carefree between school and play.
Running down the stairs when your car pulled into the driveway. I didn’t know vacations cost money, all I knew was I got to go somewhere. I didn’t know about the daily stress and the things that kept you up at night, all I knew was you were the first one who came as I cried in my beds, because of my own nightmares. I didn’t know about the pain that would go away, all I knew was you were the first there picking me up with every scraped knee.
And in time, we’d begin to learn about this world I entered so carelessly. Everyone grew with age and I know you resented time yourself, watching me become the person I’d be. And you watched from afar knowing in due time, I’d learn what the world was really like.
And along the way, you were there for every game, every win and every loss. You were the cheerleader for every dream I still wasn’t sure would come true. You were there every time I failed.
And it broke your heart to see me pack for college, as you stood staring at an empty room. And ungodly bills with University’s names across the envelope got mailed home as you’d cringe. Love is giving someone the best even if it breaks your heart to do so and giving your kids the things you may never have had.
And all you wanted was to know I was a good person and making smart decisions and doing well on my own. And it is through a father’s love I become a decent person. It is through the love of a father I become the person I am destined to be. It is through the love of a father I wanted to be someone who made you proud.
I wanted to live up to that person you thought I was and am. I wanted to never make mistakes, because some of the worst words to come out of a father’s mouth are, “you disappointed me.” But even through disappointment and mistakes, where fathers were left to pick of the pieces, there was the unconditional love.
Then one day I meet someone who shakes your hand and all you want is for him to be a decent person. All you want is to know the woman you spent your life caring for will be taken care of the right way when you are gone. As much as you resent time, I can’t even imagine a life in which you aren’t a part of and my heart breaks too.
Cause you’ve been there for everything, seeing me through tears and heartbreak that broke your own heart. And as skeptical as you are of this man, who you will never think is good enough you just hope he loves me the right way.
Then one day he asks your permission and your heart breaks a little but there is a confidence when you say yes.
And it’s a walk you thought about from the moment you held me on that first day, I was born. You knew one day you’d have to give me away. And as you’d hold back tears and you kiss my cheek, you’d hear me whisper, “But remember Daddy, I loved you first.”
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