A Father

147028685It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized something. I didn’t know what fathers do.

I’m not talking about changing a baby or feeding her. I mean to understand the role of a father, the relationship he has with his precious little girl who looks up to him for acknowledgment, for encouragement and for simple gestures of love. To know what to do, from the experience of being loved and cherished and praised by your own father.

I was six years old when our father abandoned us. He said he was going out to see a man about a dog and never came back. It’s not like he had been around much up to that point but without a Dad, I would never know what fathers do.

So I learned how to be a father as I went along.

I put my little girl’s dolls house together the night before her birthday and my fingers trembled as I placed the miniature furniture and people in the rooms. I bolted the training wheels onto her pink bicycle on Christmas Eve and stood it by the tree. And my heart burst with joy when she shrieked with delight on Christmas morning because Santa Claus had been in the night. I went to her Nativity Play and watched her from the front row, nervously being encouraged by her teacher to say her lines as a baby Angel of God. And I cried.

I held the book as she spelled out the big words, learning to read. And tucked her into bed after a tale from Beatrix Potter and kissed her softly on her tiny cheek. I promised her that I would fight any ghosts or monsters that came into her room in the night, because Daddy is strong.

I held her hand when we walked to the store together and she hid behind me when a stranger asked her name. I said she could have some chocolate, just this once, but don’t tell Mummy.

And when I came back from long trips away from home, I would meet her from playschool as a surprise. She would scream for me to pick her up so she could show off to her friends that this was her Daddy. And soon we would be home and I would swing her around and around, dancing to the sound of our own laughter, until we fell over. Her, with a soft landing on her Daddy.

I took her to the park and pushed her with endless enthusiasm on the swings. I ran to her when she bumped her head on the climbing frame, crying for her Daddy to come and hold her. I kissed her to make the pain go away and swathed her in my arms.

I whispered into her ear that she was Daddy’s girl and would always be his girl. I loved her with all the love I knew, my dearest baby angel.

And I hoped that I had done what fathers do.


  1. People have argued for centuries whether we learn to parent from what our parents taught us, or if it is instinctual. I think we learn from our children. What a lovely post. Really a tribute to real fathers everywhere, and certainly YOU! (hugs!)

    • Thank you Jean! There have been so many times when I just had to make things up as I went along, trying to be a good father. My little girl is five now and she is the joy of my life. John

  2. Beautiful Post !!!

  3. Sounds like you did everything right and then some!! I knew someone who was horribly abused by his father and yet, like you, he made his own way and it was better than most fathers who had role models. It was like you said in one post– you (and my friend) made the decision to change what was and make a new life. But most of the stories I have heard describe fathers with no role model or a bad role model repeating the bad patterns and the kids repeating it when they become fathers. I wonder what made you and my friend different. Whatever it is, bravo to you!!!

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