From time to time I tip toe around those closest to me through my writings, often to best explain my circumstance, lovingly joke at family attributes or define my oddities through the eyes of those that know best. Filtered and with hesitant hands I type words that fail to paint the portrait clearly seen by my admiring eyes. My preference sits comfortably under the umbrella of humor sheltered by satire and protected from the serious. Like most southern women, it is not what I say that matters most, it is what I leave out that speaks loudest.
Noting only his careless hair, his immeasurable patience and his affection for a sport I will never understand, I’ve brought my husband into my musings cautiously. Analyzing his inability to pick up his socks, admiring an infallible skill for managing an unmanageable wife and applauding his mastery of the ultimate pot of black coffee is the extent of my description.
Growing up in backwoods Mississippi, being a blonde headed tomboy wasn’t all that rare. It was common place for my days to begin and end in the shadow of my father. Living so far from any sign of civilization, what was and what wasn’t was aptly defined only by what was around. It never occurred to me that little girls weren’t supposed to work on tractors or mend fences. Agitating roosters and chasing cows left little need for Princess dresses and Barbie houses. Physical limits were based off of pain tolerance not gender. Roles were created and defined by what needed to be done, not what was socially accepted. A day spent dragging a five gallon bucket up and down heat packed garden rows was a day well spent. The days I looked forward to most, where those following the footsteps of my father. Little did I know how important those days were.
It is those memories, that way of life and that example that I now see through my daughters eyes. Different our setting yet similar our sight. She drags her golf clubs, her fishing lures and her dog wherever her Daddy leads. I watch her look to him for acceptance, guidance and approval. Defining her worth, her will and her power through his words, his actions and his hands. Carefully she looks to him when fear sets in awaiting his response so that she can assess her surroundings. Prideful she turns to him when she learns something new. It is the weight of my world he carries and he does so with ease.
His wet towels can remain on the floor, his socks may rest exactly where they fall and our remote always tuned precisely to a sport I will never understand as long as he leads our daughter the way a Father should. All to well I know her future is at the mercy of her present. She will expect to be treated the way he treats her. She will be limited only by the limits he allows her to set. Her dreams, her goals and her self image are all being formed as he teaches her how to mow the grass. A love even I can’t articulate grows each time I see her smile at a man that no other will ever compare.
Unknowingly he is preparing her for a world that will tell her she isn’t enough, limit her at every turn and make her question all that she knows. He is preparing her well and just like her mother, she will rise above the obstacles, face any darkness and smile through any storm all because her father believes she can. He is my husband, my best friend and my biggest supporter, but this week I celebrate his most incredible achievement. He is her father, her compass and her protector. For all the dads that encourage their daughter to fix tractors, mend fences and bait their own hook, the world is a brighter place because of you. Happy Fathers Day to the grass mowers and world changers, you are loved.