My husband found out last year that he had a daughter from his previous wife, so he came late to being the dad of a daughter. He met her shortly before her 11th birthday. The bonded immediately, as she did with her two brothers her dad had with me. Instantaneous, right down to the sibling fights, shouts of “Leave Me Alone!” and hugs and kisses.
But as wonderful as it is to get to know her, I can’t help but think of all he (and she) missed. Michael Mitchell has a wonderful blog called Life to Her Yeaars that is letters to his daughter that he started when she was born. It’s pretty awesome. But he did a guest blog called 50 Rules for Dads of Daughters that just made me cry. They are wonderful pieces of advice. What made me cry was how many of these rules my husband can’t obey with his daughter because he missed the first decade of her life.
He’ll never get play peekaboo with her. He’ll never be able to sit her on his lap and let her drive his car. He’s already missed ten birthdays. He’ll never get to turn her down gently when she asks him as a young girl to marry her . He’s never going to see her get on the school bus.He’ll never get to ride her on his shoulders. These are “rites of passage” with daughters and dads. And he has missed SO much not knowing about her. They both have.
It makes me sad.
She lives so far away (about 8 hours) that he misses so much of her life. Telephone calls, Facebook and texts only do so much. He can’t hug his daughter electronically. He can’t help her with her homework. He can’t tease her until she smiles. He won’t know IF she smiles. He can’t ruffle her hair with his hand. He can’t argue with her over bedtime. He misses so much of her life. He misses Her.
When she comes back at Christmas he will marvel over how tall she’s gotten. He’ll give her Christmas presents, take her places, tease her, dote on her, and love her. But all of that he will also do for the boys. That’s right of course, but they are still making up for lost time. Lost time they will never get back.
All he can do from now on is his best. We all try not to dwell on “what-if.” It is a senseless question and really does more harm than good when asked. He forms the bonds of love with her now while he can, and tries to show her that he loves her. But it’s difficult when those years of her innocent, unconditional trust were missed.
That they are together makes me very happy. That they missed ten years makes me sad. I’m looking at the relationship from the outside, so how much more do they feel?
Hug your daughter(s). Hug your son(s). Love them. Realize how precious they are. Think how lucky you are to have had them this long, and remember that they can be taken from you in a blink. In an instant everything can change. Don’t take this time for granted. You can be there and still miss it if you aren’t careful.
And comment if you have any special remembrances of your kids, of lack of them. Tell me if this grabs your heart for any reason. I’d like to know.