The celebrated social commentator, Clive James, once said something to the effect that gazing upon the face of an intelligent beautiful woman was to gaze upon the face of God. It’s a good line but is ultimately a shallow one. It resonates with me nevertheless because, I think he’s at least in the ballpark. Here is why.
Somehow, I’ve been blessed enough to father three daughters. Clive, you may think you saw the face of God, but unless you’ve been privileged to be the father of a daughter you ain’t seen or felt nothing. I’m pretty sure that anyone in something like my place would agree with me.
To watch these amazing creatures grow and bloom into independent, strong young women has watered and nurtured the driest most parched places of my soul – places that I had never known were there prior to their arrival.
My daughters changed me for the better, there is no doubt.
They do not know who I was before, they only know who they made me (thank God).
When the first daughter arrived, the world tilted on its axis, priorities were reset and seeds buried deep within me started to sprout. The second and third helped to nourish and nurture those seeds, so that I could allow myself to feel the full range of emotions. I have shared their triumphs, celebrated their happiness, acutely felt their disappointments and watched with a protective eye as they ventured into the wider world and navigated through it with much more skill and aplomb than I ever did.
We have tried to encourage them to chase their dreams and to follow their hearts wherever they lead. I watch their progress with a mixed cocktail of pride, awe and trepidation, never wanting to interfere but always ready to lend a hand when needed and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when I am able to help in anyway. It is good.
My daughters have taken me to places that I never contemplated – from participating in tea parties to attending ballet recitals, drama performances netball practice and hockey games. I have always been a little out of my comfort zone and loved every minute of it. I’ve tolerated countless chick flicks, been aurally assaulted by the Spice Girls, Brittany Spears and Avril Lavigne (OK, she wasn’t too bad), patiently rebuilt dismembered Bratz and Barbie dolls and tried to patch up the odd broken heart.
I am indeed privileged to have participated and enjoyed my daughters enjoyment of all of these things and never had time to appreciate them for what they are because the world is constantly moving.
Sometimes I feel like screaming – these are the times when I forget how lucky I have been and how blessed I am to feel such pure unequivocal love. My daughters are in many ways my rocks of stability that I cling to when the world grows dark and scary. Their lights continue to shine when I feel that hope is all but extinguished. They continue to give me reasons to push on and to make them proud.
Recently, I was given reason to reflect upon my good fortune and to wonder if I’d really expressed my feelings adequately (I think you know the answer to that). In my moments of reflection I remembered the quote from Clive James and couldn’t help but think that he’d missed the mark.
It has been a long time since I could say that I was a man of faith but I remember many of the teachings we learned in Catholic primary school -one of the most tritest being “God is Love.” I think that there may be something in that because love in its most purest form is goodness.
In my rambling journey through this life I have come to accept several “truths.”
These are that despite organised religion not fulfilling my needs or meeting my standards of logic, I believe that we all have a divine eternal essence and the core of that essence is pure love. My daughters have helped me understand this and to appreciate that nothing ultimately matters other than love itself and that this love will last forever.
Of course, I do not speak of such things. A man like me has only so many emotional quivers to his bow, so I do what most blokes do – give the occasional hug and mutter the odd, “I love you” and hope that my fumbling emotional awkwardness cuts through.
Even this little essay doesn’t do my girls justice, but it’s the best this hack writer can do and I write it on behalf of all Dads who feel something similar.
In all likelihood, the time will come (hopefully in the distant future) when I will have to leave them behind. When my time comes to stand in the clearing and give account of myself, I will do so without fear knowing that the love I have experienced far outweighs my many sins and then when the accounting is done, I will wait to guide them one final time – that’s what Dads are for after all.
That wasn’t too soppy was it?
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