'I didn't want to raise girls … until I did.'
Recently, someone asked me if I wished I had boys instead of girls.
Of course the answer was an emphatic, "NO." But did I always feel that way? I'd be lying if I said yes.
First, let's rewind a few years back. When my wife showed me the positive pregnancy test for our first baby in 2009, I blurted out, "Awesome! I just hope it's a boy!"
I figured that if I had a son, I could teach him how to play basketball, throw a punch, and play in the dirt. With a girl, I'd be stuck playing dress up and other "girly crap."
After a few weeks of “I want a boy so badly" talk, our world came crashing down. If you've followed my blog, Daddy Doin' Work, you'll remember that our first pregnancy didn't end well, and it was pretty devastating for us. After months of grieving, I realized that the only thing I ever wanted was to be a dad — not just a dad to a little boy. I cursed myself for being so stupid and immature, and I prayed for redemption — which I fortunately achieved. As the story goes, we got pregnant again in 2010, and there was no “I hope it's a boy" nonsense this time. As a matter of fact, tears of joy streamed down my face when the doctor told us we were having a little girl.
Since January 2011, my oldest daughter has introduced me to a brand of love that I never knew existed.
I truly believe that having two little girls has transformed me into a better, stronger, and smarter man than I would've been without them.
Here are some reasons why:
Revelation #1: Everything I could do with a boy, I can do with my daughters.
I can play basketball, teach them how to throw a punch, and play in the dirt. Yes, I know that's a big fat "duh" for many of you, but I'm a recovering knucklehead with minimal relapses, so please humor me. And yes, I'm going to teach them much more than those three things – but I promise you that I will teach them those three things.
Revelation #2: My daughters will use me as a benchmark for how men should behave.
The best dads I know (and I know plenty of them) view their day job titles as what they do, but their jobs never become who they are. They are dads and husbands first and foremost.
When I worked a full-time job in corporate America, I remember that after a day of sitting on conference calls, attending project meetings, and hitting aggressive deadlines, the only thing I wanted to do was rest when I get home. Then I thought about my daughters. I'll be damned if they looked at me and thought, “Daddy doesn't cook, give us baths, read bedtime stories, or change our diapers. He just sits around while Mommy does everything. Maybe that's how all men should act and that's what I should expect from a future husband."
Please know that I'm not a robot. Oftentimes I feel like grunting myself into unconsciousness after reading "The Cat in the Hat" for the ninth time in a row, or sometimes I'm so tired that I'll mess up a batch of chili so badly that it could fertilize your front lawn. But I do it anyway because I want my baby girls to expect their daddy to be actively involved – always.
Revelation #3: Being "girly" is just a myth.
What does girly even mean, anyway? Would my kid be less girly if she dressed up as Spider-Man for Halloween instead of a princess? (That's exactly what she did, by the way.) Would she be less girly if she wanted to tackle little boys on the football field instead of taking ballet classes? Not to me.
That would be like saying a dude who can bench-press 250 pounds is more manly than a guy who sings songs to his kids before bed. I've learned that being a girl can be whatever the hell a girl wants it to be, and I will never limit my daughters when it comes to that. Additionally, I want to introduce my daughters to other women who are crushing it in male-dominated fields (executive leadership, sports journalism/broadcasting, coding, law enforcement, etc.) so they'll understand that it's possible to do anything their little hearts desire.
Revelation #4: Being loud is a good thing.
And by loud, I mean believing in something so deeply that they'll shout from the rooftops about it without worrying about what haters, naysayers, and other clowns have to say about them.
In a world where women are still fighting for equality, I want my girls to speak up in the living room, classroom, and board room in order to be heard. Forget the foolishness about being viewed as "pushy," "bossy," or "bitchy" for having an opinion or for taking a stance. Closed mouths don't get fed.
Revelation #5: I'm built for raising girls in today's society, or at least I think I am.
Let's be real — girls have to deal with a lot of challenging things today. Pressure to be liked by others, pressure to have sex, body image, mean girls, teen pregnancy, rape ... I'm sure I missed some, but I'm getting depressed listing them out. I can't protect them from all of the ills of society, but I can ensure they'll have the confidence and smarts (both book smarts and street smarts) to thrive in this crazy world we live in.
Just like I'm fighting for dads to get a seat at the table when it comes to parenting issues, I want women to have a seat at the table when it comes to issues that affect them — and not just for my daughters, but for your daughters, too.
Yes, I'm sure I'd be just as happy if I had boys instead of girls. But there's something special about the bond between a dad and his daughters that cannot be explained, and I wouldn't change that bond for anything.
Now if you'll excuse me, the mall has a half-price sale on toddler jeggings.