The oh-so-poetic John Mayer once told the fathers of the world to be good to their daughters. This is because, according to Mr. Mayer, the daughters will love like they do. I have found this to be true for both of my cases. You see, I have two fathers. One abandoned us when I was very young and the other came in and rescued us, in a sense.
Sometimes I am slow to love others. That is one thing I learned from my first father. I have found myself at times to be guarded and gun shy, as if I’m going to be hurt beyond recognition. I guess I just remember what it was like the first time I had my heart broken by a man. Twenty years later, it’s still not all the way back together. Nothing has ever been as bad as that first heartbreak, and I hope it stays that way. That heartbreak, however, hardened me a bit. So now in my adult years, I have the ability to always handle heartache with stride. I’m proud of myself when I am able to hold back tears and not fall apart at the worst times. Because whatever the current situation is, I have been through worse. He taught me that.
My second father loves his family more than anything, and I adopted those ideals immediately. I can see him in myself in so many ways, even though he wasn’t in our lives until I was a teenager. When I finally do open up my heart to someone, I find myself loving them the way he and my mom love each other. I’m proud of myself when I can be so unconditionally loving and caring. He and my mom taught me that.
The song resonates with me, “Oh you see that skin? It’s the same she’s been standing in since the day she saw him walking away. Now she’s left, cleaning up the mess he made.” I always feel something in my chest when I hear that line, because it feels like he is describing me. Some people say that a daughter’s relationship with her father is the model for all of her subsequent relationships with men. If you were given a less than perfect model, does that mean a life of less than perfect men? Sometimes it does. But the opposite is true for me. The actions of my first father made me incredibly picky because I refuse to end up with someone who will hurt me and our kids and leave us in his dust, picking up the pieces.
Every girl needs to be picky until she finds that man who is solid. Bonnie Raitt said it best: “I ain’t looking for the kind of man who can’t stand a little shaky ground. He’ll bring me fire and tenderness, and have the guts to stick around.”
I have been thinking about fathers today because it is my second father’s birthday. He has been a saint for our family and I hope he knows how loved he is.
Oh, and one more thing before you go. I can’t forget to mention that other father, the most important one of all. He is the true definition of unconditional love and kindness and I am thankful to Him every single day for getting me through the pain of my early years to make me strong, teaching me valuable lessons to make me wise, and for bringing that saint of a stepfather to us to help us see what a real man is made of. I am so thankful.