A tribute to a daddy

{If you know A, you’ll also know that he is going to be less than thrilled with the attention from this post. But it’s something that needs to be said. Plus, it’s his birthday tomorrow and Father’s Day on Sunday so really, this post couldn’t be more timely.}

After the birth of a child, so much of the attention goes straight to the mother. And understandably so. However, with 18-months’ hindsight, one of the truths I’ve really come to believe is that fathers often don’t get enough acknowledgement that they too have gone through an enormous life change. They transform from husbands to fathers, and this transformation is sometimes totally underestimated. They too are wandering into completely unknown territory, and a lot of what they go through perhaps feels like it is not seen. And we, as mothers (well, I can only speak for myself) sometimes expect them to read our minds and just figure it out already!

That’s certainly how I feel it went for us.

As I begin to write this post, I can hear Tuna’s giggles of delight in the next room while her Papa reads her bedtime stories. I am almost entirely redundant now during bedtime – that is A’s domain, almost exclusively. In fact, on the rare occasion that A can’t be around for bedtime, I find myself looking to Tuna for confirmation as to the next step in the bedtime routine – she looks forward to, and has memorised, every *single* step of the process. Tonight, after I kissed her goodnight and left them to it, I reflected on what an extraordinary father A has become.

Truth be told, and I don’t know if this is something every mother goes through, but you naively wonder how on earth he is going to manage if you’re not around. Will he know when she needs to sleep? When she needs to eat? When she just needs a hug?

But from the very beginning, I have seen – and continue to see – thousands of moments which told me the kind of father, and husband, into which he was transforming.

papa tuna

When he held our daughter for the first time in his arms, I saw the immediate rush of protectiveness and tremendous love that he felt for her.

When I was bound to the hospital bed after she was born, weary and in pain, I saw him worry and wish he could make it all go away.

When I cried at every little thing, from the bad hospital food to the uncomfortable pillows, I saw him forgoing his own food, his own comfort, his own needs so that I could have what I needed.

When I felt frustrated and blamed myself for the baby still being hungry despite my best attempts at nursing her, I saw him doing everything he possibly could to take the pressure off me without judgment, without criticism and only with love.

When the ruthless, sleepless nights started to turn me into someone we both no longer recognised, I saw him asking himself where his wife had gone, and why she was choosing to be a martyr and refusing all of the help he was consistently offering.

When I panicked at the first cold, the first cough, the first fall and the first emergency room visit, I saw him hold our family together with his strength, his patience, his confidence and his courage.

When the pressure of new motherhood felt like sometimes it was just too much, I saw him, without hesitation, try and find a way for me to feel supported and loved.

When the baby would wake up what seemed like four hundred times a night, I saw the times he quickly jumped up, turned off the baby monitor and went to her so that I could get some sleep.

What a father he has become. And along every step of the way, I can tell that he has done it all with no expectation of gratitude, praise or acknowledgement. Maybe he doesn’t know that I see it all.

I see you giving our daughter your complete, undivided attention when you play with her.

I see you teaching her things about the world – teaching her to observe, to ask questions, and to seek to understand how and why things are the way they are.

I see you packing her bag when we go out – in a way so perfect that no matter how hard I try to recreate it, it’s never as good.

I see you lovingly repeating the same story to her, night after night, until she is so happy and content that she falls asleep in your arms.

I see you wanting to give me a break while you take her to see the birds and eat apple turnovers so that I can have a few hours to myself.

I see a little girl who eagerly asks me when Papa is coming home, several times a day.

I see a little girl who will grow up to be a confident, strong and brave woman because a father that lets his daughter explore new things while he stands by her side, empowers her to stand on her own two feet.

I see a little girl who feels safe, loved and secure because she gets so many hugs, so many kisses and so much love from the most important male figure in her life.

I see a little girl who will never give up on what she aspires for, because she will see a constant example in her own life of someone that is not afraid to dream big and work hard for that dream.

I see a little girl who doesn’t smile anywhere near as widely as she does when she hears the turn of the front door lock every evening.

A little girl that has been cherishing a rumpled piece of paper for the past four days because it has pictures of butterflies and dinosaurs that Papa meticulously drew for her.

A little girl that wants to be so much like you that even her laugh has started to sound like yours.

In her clear, piercing, serene eyes, I see you.  She has your gaze, your smile and your big heart.

I see – every day – how much she loves you. And how dearly you love her.

And for that, I love you more with each passing day.

Happy birthday, A.

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5 thoughts on “A tribute to a daddy

  1. This has got to be one of the most touching posts I’ve read (I got a little emotional!). It was raw, authentic and inspiring. What an awesome birthday present for A! Thank you for sharing your big heart.

    Like

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