My twin daughters are three years old. They love doing somersaults at gymnastics. Walking on the balance beam. Jumping in the foam pit. They love the zoo – the lumbering elephants and tall giraffes and howling monkeys. Rhinos scare them a little. They love home-made smoothies that Kari calls “Banana Drink.” (Pronounced ‘bo-nana dink’)
Their world is simple and joyful and new. There are thousands of new colors, animals, words, sounds, sights, experiences. Life is a reoccurring discovery. Everyone is a friend. The best part of my day is getting home from work, walking in and hearing them shriek and run to grab my legs. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I had, who criticized me, or what made life difficult.
To them, I am Papa – and being home is all that matters.
Being with them – holding, laughing, celebrating, comforting, loving – is what they need. This love is spiritual, it is physical, biochemical and emotional. It is as critical as food – as they are learning who they are, and how the world relates to them. At the center of their world is Papa.
Every little girl is born with the longing to be daddy’s little girl.
Daddy is the first man to whom she gives and receives love. Daddy is the man who shapes her worth and identity. She wishes for his undivided attention, dreams of being his shining princess. (Fatherless Generation, 52)
Unfortunately, many dads are not around. Fatherlessness wilts the dream of being daddy’s little girl. I see this every day at The Mentoring Project, all over the place. This past December, I was in one school in Florida that had over 90 pregnant teens. According to the Principal, nearly all of these girls were fatherless. I wrote a short poem for these rejected girls called Wilted:
Fields of wilted flowers, on broken stems. Hanging, dangling, waiting for the sun to come, for anyone. But he is gone, gone far beyond return.
I cannot imagine leaving my girls to wilt. Accidents and tragedies do happen – sometimes a father or parent is lost, and sometimes marriages end. But I cannot imagine turning my back on them, leaving them hungry and starving for the sun.
Girls need their fathers.
This is one reason why I love a Daddy-Daughter Dances. It’s only once a year, but it is a special little celebration. This is what that looks like for me:
1. Dad drives to the boutique children’s store.
2. Dad wanders around and looks awkward. I’m the only man in the store. And I’m wearing Carhartts.
3. Dad manages to pick out two dresses and hair bows. They match. Sort of.
4. Dad swings by the florist on the way home to buy each girl a pink rose.
This year, we opened and put on the dresses and played music – Josh Garrels to be exact. The girls like to listen to “Pilot Me,” over and over again. We danced in a circle for about half a song, then the girls made for the trampoline. The rest of the night was a mixture of dance-jump, hand holding, falling and laughing.
I wasn’t sure what the moment was supposed to feel like.
Maybe two little girls would rest their heads on my shoulders as I held them. But this year was more like a wild romp. I was happy to oblige. It’s hard to know what these moments mean to them. I hope they feel love from me, deeper than the dreamy love heard on the radio, or the flighty love seen on romantic comedies. (I wrote about my learning journey as a new father in the book, The Heroic Path.)
I pray my love changes and grows them into women who are secure in their value and worth, women who can also rest in their identity as Beloved, resting in the love of One who loves more deeply and perfectly than I ever will.
Happy Father's Day!