So… It’s Father’s Day today, and I have been reflecting on fatherhood and the role fathers play in our lives.
For many women, the fatherhood role can be complicated. It imprints us at such a young age. In essence, our fathers are our first loves. Their actions, their words, their every move can shape our self-worth and how we see ourselves in relation to men. A healthy father-daughter dynamic can be vital in building successful male/female relationships in the future.
I was very fortunate to grow up with an incredible father. He was full of optimism, joy and humor. He made us all laugh and created levity in our family. We soaked it up. He was my first true love. I learned from him how to treat and respect women by watching him interact with my mother. This was essential to my further growth and development of finding a mate and falling in love. I know, for me, I had such high expectations of the man I would be with because my father set the bar extremely high. As I look back and reflect, I probably had some issues early on with men because I subconsciously compared them to my dad. This was not fair or realistic, but it’s a natural response when you are raised by a larger than life father who adores you to the moon and back.
One of my all-time favorite books is The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Her father-daughter story resonated deeply with me. I got it. She was forever grasped by the adoration of her father. She so keenly states:
“He defined me first, as parents do. Those early characterizations can become the shimmering self-image we embrace or the limited, stifling perception we rail against for a lifetime. In my case, he sees me as I would like to be seen. In fact, I’m not even sure what’s true about me, since I have always chosen to believe his version.”
― Kelly Corrigan, The Middle Place
There have been a couple of episodes in my life lately that have furthered my reflection on fatherhood. I recently had lunch with a good friend. She lost her father at the vulnerable age of 12. He suddenly died of a heart attack. She was courageously talking about the impact that event had on her and her words significantly impacted me.
She revealed to me that losing her father at such a young age did, in fact, create issues in her young adult life with men. While in college, she was seeking out men’s approval and validation and she looks back on that time with some regret, but she also seems to truly understand why. She went on to tell me that when young girls lose their fathers, many times the community automatically supports the boy in the family. She recognizes this is not done intentionally or with ill will. It’s just a fact. It’s more natural for the men to support a young boy by becoming a surrogate father to a him — taking him to games, coaching his little league teams, etc. I think there is an assumption that a young girl that still has her mother will be fine. But in reality — she’s not fine.
I thought about what she was telling me and it made so much sense. The natural development of her father-daughter model was tragically halted. There she was a 12 year old little girl — fatherless, with a hole that cannot be filled. But, through a lot of self-work and introspection over the years, she created a healthy, happy relationship with her husband. And today they are happily married and parents to two beautiful children. The take away for me is even when your circumstances are not ideal, you can still create the life you want. And for my friend, she was determined to get it right and create a beautiful relationship. She decided: I’m responsible for my own life. I can manifest a different story. And she did — AMEN.
This story gave me perspective. I thought about my own daughter, Marlie and her relationship with her father. Obviously, she does not have perspective yet, but one day in the not so distant future she will realize how incredibly lucky she is to have a dad like Jim. He adores her. He always has. They have a special bond that is irreplaceable. For as long as I can remember, Marlie and her dad have this “thing.” You know, that “thing” that you cannot put into words. It’s like they were meant to be together in this life. They share a natural, undeniable connection.
When Marlie was a toddler, I would try too hard. I was desperately trying to tap into their frequency, their vibration — their “thing.” But, then I realized, it wasn’t for me to interrupt. I slowly began to see it for what it is, a gift. As I started to see it through a new lens, my natural connection to Marlie deepened and grew. As she got older, she naturally needed her mama, and her mama naturally needed her. I was always there waiting for her — waiting to receive her fully with no conditions — arms open, heart full. She has special needs and was born with a mother and father who embrace her right where she is — no expectations for more or something different, but rather, total unconditional acceptance for what is.
There is nothing more liberating than being loved for exactly who you are. Jim recently took this selfie of them on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride at Disneyland. After looking at it, I thought what a lucky girl she is — being cradled by her dad who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world than on the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disneyland with his 11 year old, beautiful daughter, Marlie.
It’s a love felt “to infinity and beyond!”
(Thanks for the great line, Buzz!)
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