Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Importance of Being "Daddy"

I wrote this piece in January, as part of a blog swap that I did with Leslie G, over at My Mommy's Place. I though that it might be a good first post, here at my new blog.

Here in the blogosphere, I go by the name of Gunfighter. Not because I spend my days involved in shootouts, but because I am a professional tactical firearms instructor. That title describes a person that teaches law enforcement officers how to fight with guns. Gunfighter is my internet “handle” , senior firearms instructor is my title, “Inspector” is my rank within my agency, my name is Bill.

When some people hear about what I do for a living, they tell me what a cool job I have. I can’t disagree. I have one of the best jobs on the planet for someone with my skill-set and personality. I do have a great job... I get to wear comfortable clothes, work great hours, shoot exotic and expensive guns, and never have to pay for the ammunition. With all of that, I have to tell you that, the most important job I have is the dual role of husband and father.

On my blog, I frequently talk about my wife and my daughter, because they are the central pillar in my earthly life. My family is the reason I exist.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece about the importance of responsible, participatory fatherhood in the lives of boys. I discussed how boys should be shaped into men, and how their fathers were the most important factor in being turned into good men who would be good husbands and fathers when the time came. Today, I want to talk about the role of men as the fathers of daughters.

I was raised in a home where my father wasn’t present. My parents divorced when I was only five years old, leaving my mother to raise the three of us (I have an older bother and sister) with major support from my grandmother. I’m not complaining, mind you, I had an interesting childhood and was well-loved… but something was missing. I didn’t learn how to be a man from my dad. He was a career soldier, and even when my parents were together, he was never around. My only memories from when my parents were married are of shouting and violence. I learned how to be man by negative example and by having Captain James T. Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise as a role-model (no, I’m NOT joking).

Although women are, more-often-than-not, the primary caregivers for children in our society, we men have an important role to play. You see, men need to be the example of what kind of man their daughters should expect when it is time for them to find acceptable spouses. Daughters need to see their fathers come home at night (or day, depending on the kind of work they do). Daughters need to see that a real man supports his family as best he can no matter the sacrifices that it takes to do it. Daughters need to see their mothers treated decently, with respect and love and kindness. Daughters need the kind of attention that comes from their first true love… their fathers.

I love being the father of daughters. My oldest daughter, Fastpitch, is seventeen and will start her Freshman year of college in the fall. Fastpitch lives with her mother (my ex-wife) and her step-father, in West Virginia. I saw her just recently, and we now talk on the phone and email each other frequently.

Soccergirl, who is 8, and I get along famously. When we are together, just the two of us, we do things differently than when it is just her and mommy. We play different games, we go different places and have our own brand of fun. None of this takes away from the things that my wife does with her. Not at all, it just illustrates how we have our own special relationship. I will tell you right here and now that one of the happiest moments in my life took place when Soccergirl, at age 5, said to me with all the gravity in the world: Daddy, when I grow up, will you marry me like you married mommy? Sounds sappy, doesn’t it? Maybe it was, but, it was a red-letter date from me, that still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. Just the other day, she told me that I was the best daddy in the world. I doubt that is true, but it is true enough for her, and therefore, true enough for me.

Soccergirl is almost out of her little girl stage, but she still likes it when I carry her upstairs at bed time. She still likes me to sing her to sleep, she still likes to sit on my lap and have me read to her. These moments will be gone soon… probably before next Christmas. I’m more grateful for them than I can possibly tell you.

It is my hope, even through all of the teenaged angst and rebellion that comes with those years, that when Soccergirl is a young woman, and she thinks about what men are like, that she uses me as a positive yardstick to measure them by. I want her to be able to always have a good example of what a man should be. It is my hope that even when I am long dead that she will always remember her “daddy” with a smile.

At the beginning of this piece, I told you about my titles. None of them mean anything to me, really. The title that means most to me is “Daddy” not just a father. I’m daddy. No other title means as much to me.



Grimm said...

Congrats on your new duds my friend! I am hoping to someday get out of my rut and get going again. I loved this article before and reading it again makes shows what an excellent writer you are!

Gunfighter said...

Thanks, Dave... you're no slouch yourself, you know!


Lawyer Mama said...

Oh, that's just beautiful! (Let me go fix my mascara now.)

Janet M Kincaid said...

I've seen you in action as a daddy and your daughter is one lucky little girl. Lovely post!

anno said...

Perfectly said -- a wonderful post! Thanks so much!

Brillig said...

Oh, this is such a great post, GF. Even at my nearly 29 years old, my Daddy is still "Daddy." His real-dad-ness had such a profound effect on who I wanted to end up with in the long run. I needed someone who would love me with the kindness and gentle respect that my dad loved my mom with, and someone who would love his future children the way my Daddy loved us. And now I look at my little clan of kiddos and think of how their Daddy's involvement has set the bar high--I pray that my sons will be just like him and that my daughter will marry someone just like him. They have the best example, the way I did, and the way your Soccergirl does. It really does work that way!