This thing about a Father “giving the daughter away” at a wedding is a lie. They were never ours to give. Daughters are not the property of their Dads or Moms any more than a male child is the property of his parents. My daughters, Jenna and Julie, independent from the beginning, were on loan to us temporarily for nurture and safekeeping.
Sally and I both changed their diapers and gave them baths, but that was our duty. They don’t owe their mother or me lifelong allegiance for taking care of them. I stood in an impossibly long line so Jenna could have a Cabbage Patch dolI one Christmas. Julie’s Big Wish was a bit more complicated, but, when Christmas morning arrived, she had Rainbow Brite sheets. Those were acts of love, not a deal I made to be paid back later.
Dance recitals: I never missed one. They (and their costumes) were cute and I was proud.
When one of my daughters was quiet too long, we would discover she had been unrolling the toilet paper or giving her dolls a bath in the toilet. Sally and I laughed. We didn’t think or say, “You owe us.”
Over years, they dealt with bullies, as every kid does. I could not always protect them. They had to figure some things out on their own.
When they were teenagers, each asserted her independence and I hated it. Let them go? Willingly? Not while I was still breathing. They were independent nonetheless.
I took them on trips rather than always sending them off with someone else. With Jenna, I’ve been to New York City at Christmas, and climbed the Mayan Pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula. With Julie, I’ve seen the monkeys on Gibraltar, and roamed the streets of Amsterdam. We toured England and Scotland as a family, Jenna a teenager and Julie a preteen. They have memories of our time together that will outlast me.
At some point, B. O. Y. S. entered the picture, and that was a challenge. But, all’s well that ends well. I approve of Thorne and Tom and I thank God every day for my sons-in-law.
Fatherhood and parenting did not end when they got married. Conversations about grace, fairness, patience, right and wrong never end. At least, not yet. They will always be my daughters and I will always be their daddy. But make no mistake: they were and are independent women. I am proud of them.