Posted on June 18, 2019
by Steve Janowick

He regarded himself as a strong man.  Finally.  He was now looking at three decades in the rear-view mirror and he was at the place where the road widened a bit, the knots loosened and the monsters of uncertainty and awkwardness that took up residence in his brain for so long begrudgingly acquiesced to confidence and self-assuredness.

The man welcomed his little boy into the world two years prior and contributed that event to most of his (good) changes.  The boy was, after all, a game changer.  A priority overhauler. Sure, the man still possessed the propensity for selfishness and a slew of other negative characteristics that go along with having a pair bouncing between the thighs, but those attributes became watered down when he came into the world.  Weaker. Often tapping out at the hands of nurturing and responsibility and selflessness.

However, as beautiful and wonderful as it was, the boy was still…a boy!  He needed his Dad now, sure, but the man knew that in the blink of an eye, the apple would fall from the tree-not that far, of course-and he’d be an independent, brooding, stubborn, smelly-he’d be, well, a mini him.  So, his paternal instincts kicked in and he subconsciously created a rearing plan to raise him accordingly.

Life was good.  Predictable. God had blessed him with what he wanted as a parent, a child he knew how to not only love—but more importantly—how to love and understand.

Then, two years later, on a sunny May afternoon, she came into his life-and everything he felt, or knew about how to feel, was turned on its head.  This little surprise was…well…different.  She was on the other team.  Venus to his Mars. A different species all together.  This was the species that he desperately chased since the first hairs had sprouted under his skinny arms.  This was the species that was the root of so much pain and so much joy in his life. The species that broke his heart countless times and made him feel so alive countless other times.  The species that was so emotional and so complicated. The great mystery.  

So damn hard to understand.

And, now, a brand-new member of that species was staring up at him as he held her for the very first time.  And in that moment, when her big, wondrous eyes met his every single notion and idea he had about females, about the enigmatic species, instantly changed.

The strong man was now vulnerable and scared.  The old fears crept back in. He didn’t know how to do this.  How to handle what he was feeling. Because this was a fierce, powerful love.  Not more or less than with the boy-but distinct. All those times he completely disregarded the fathers of the girls he was with in the past.  Ignored their worry. Dismissed their need to protect their daughters’ honor. Overlooked their willingness to die to protect them: holding her, watching her chest rise with each new breath, he was one of those fathers now, and he could suddenly sympathize.  He wished he could go back and apologize to all of them.

Yes, the double standard was alive and well. He knew it and didn’t care.  No boy would ever be good enough for her! And if any one of them ever hurt just one hair on her head he’d meet his demise at the barrel end of a Louisville Slugger.

So as the Springs submitted to Autumns, he’d spend his days watching her grow from child to adult, bringing him, along the way, a joy and contentment (and countless sleepless nights) that no other human in his sphere ever could.  Because she was his daughter. His little girl. And daughters are God’s gift to all the men in the world who need a little softening around the edges. A little mellowing out. A little perspective reconditioning.

And a little more understanding of the great mystery…

that is the woman.

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