Friday, November 11, 2011

Nobody's Princess

     When our daughter was younger, my husband would make a big deal each year of taking her to a Father/Daughter Ball. In preparation, she and I would go shopping for a special dress and I would do her hair and get her ready for her big night out. My husband would have a flower for her and would make huge, sweeping gestures of chivalry. While they were away, they danced and ate chicken fingers and drank punch (as evidenced by the pictures) and she was the center of his attention for the entire night. She was his little princess.
     On the other 364 nights, he still managed to make her feel special. When he would come home from work, he would pick her up and twirl her around the room, and when he had to travel out of town for business, he always made it a point to call around bedtime to say prayers with her and to let her know how much he loved and missed her. There were times when I knew he had work to do, but instead of doing it, he would sit her on his lap and read to her or crawl down on the floor-bad knees and all-and play her favorite game as many times as she wished.
     When she entered high school he bought her a diamond ring for her birthday. The reason, he explained, is that he wanted to be the first to buy his little girl diamonds. He did not want 'some joker' to tempt her with nice things. Basically he wanted her to say, "I'm not impressed. My Daddy already did that for me!"
    One night I was having dinner with a friend and she and I were talking about how our daughter's relationships with their fathers were so different than our relationships with our own fathers. Both of us had been raised by single mothers with fathers who drifted in and out of our lives. That night we talked about how our lives would have been different had our father's assumed their responsibility and been present, physically or financially. We really made ourselves sad talking about the longing we grew up with wishing that our fathers would love us enough to stay  (or pay). We talked about the predators who attempted to come near us because there was not a man in the house to shoo them away and we talked about how it affected our adult lives knowing the first men to break our hearts were our fathers.
   Later I tried to explain the conversation to my husband and I told him that while growing up, I never got a chance to be anyone's princess. I told him that I never attended any Father/Daughter activities and I was always left sitting alone when the other children's Dads came along. And then I shared with him that before I met him, I didn't feel there was any man who loved me unconditionally and was just happy that I was alive.
    My husband is an eternal optimist and he always sees the beauty in things, so instead of allowing me to grow more maudlin by agreeing with me, he asked me a simple question: "Weren't you your grandfather's princess?" Truthfully, I had never even considered that. I was so focused on what I didn't have growing up that I forgot to be grateful for what I did have. I have a grandfather who loves me. I mean really, really loves me. I have always been his 'Chelle and he never lets too much time pass without saying "I love you." No, he didn't attend the Father/Daughter activities with me, but he did pick me up from school and take me for ice cream. He may not have spoiled me rotten with all of the things I wanted, but I always had what I needed and I was spoiled with love.
     My father still slips in and out of my life and I am no longer resentful because I know that God kept him out of my life for a reason. I still love him because the Bible says to honor our mother and our father, but I adore my grandfather. Granddaddy has grown older and because I live so far away from him I do not get to see him often. Because he cannot see well anymore, I have to wait for someone to be in the room with him when I call in order to hand him the phone. It's funny because whenever he hangs up he always says "Daddy loves you." Of course he realizes that I am his granddaughter, but although I've never asked him, I think he intentionally assumed the role of father in my life because my own did not want to be bothered. He had other, more pressing things to do.
     There are so many good men out there who are amazing fathers. They show their children, especially their little girls, how a man is supposed to treat them. They respect all women because they recognize that every woman is, indeed, someone's daughter. I applaud you. But to the men who are too busy or too selfish to realize the priceless gift you've been given and who do not treat your daughter like a little princess, shame on you! You will never get the time back and if you hurt her it will ripple through every other relationship she has.
     And to the grown women who never had a chance to be anyone's princess, that's okay because the past is over and it cannot be relived. Beginning today be grateful for whoever God placed in your life (or omitted) love yourself and be a Queen!

1 comment:

  1. I can definitely relate to this because I've had a similar situation with my dad in my life. He wasn't around much and I got in lots of trouble as a youth because I wasn't taught some of the valuable lessons that I wish he would have taught me. It is my goal in life to never be that kind of father to my children because I don't want any resentment towards me for not being there later in life.