The moment that changed everything for me, as shocking as it was, did not come without warning.
Ever since my daughter came into the world, it seemed she was in a hurry to grow up. Following on the heels of her brother, only 18 months behind chronologically, she proceeded to make up the ground in vocal development, walking, and potty training- achieving these milestones comparatively early. Not only did she keep up and catch up mentally, but physically she soon shot up to the point that she was easily the tallest girl in any group where her age was the average. The poor thing even had to convince a skeptical cashier at our local pizza buffet that she was young enough to qualify for the kids meal. I’ve had to stare down hormone laden 14 year old boys that mistake my daughter for a teenage dating prospect rather than a ten year old
that still maintains her Hello Kitty shrine in the corner of her room.
I’ve watched from afar as my wife gently prepared her for the challenges of entering puberty from the female perspective. My role had always been to be the example of how a man ought to treat her-opening doors, complimenting her, everything that I would demand of any potential suitor. Of course I left the nitty gritty details to my wife, just as I was responsible for “the talk” with my now thoroughly maturing oldest son, and my prepubescent but soon to be teenaged twelve year old. But my distance from the discussion was not only simply a matter of gender roles. It was a protective shell that prevented me from having to acknowledge the all too persistent, obvious fact that my little girl will not be a little girl much longer.
Naomi had been complaining of stomach pains for the last couple of days, but even as my wife began preparing for what she was confident was on the way, I hesitated at her diagnosis. It was less the squeamish male reaction to the ‘way of women’ and more that protective shell going up. Finally, right after dropping off the kids at tutoring at the church, and settling into my office, my wife called my office phone and told me, somewhat breathlessly, “It happened”. My long silence was not because I needed an explanation. It was the sinking feeling, almost a funeral kind of loss I felt within me. Call it silly, or overreaction, but I just felt like an era of innocence had past, and that for now on I would never have that free feeling of just raising my pigtailed princess as if she’d never leave the nest.
I’m not sure how other dads deal with their daughters becoming women. All I know is the thought of my girl being able – prayerfully years decades from now – to have children of her own makes me feel like I’ve entered an area totally unfamiliar to me. Of course, I’ll give her the eskimo kisses, the hugs, tuck her in at night, enjoy every moment of her still precious childhood. But that wisp of sadness she might detect when I look at her is the evidence that I know she’s only mine for a little while longer. Lord help me make the most of it.
Looking unto the hills,