Before we had kids I wanted a daughter most. I’m not sure entirely why. Everyone is quick to joke about the “teenage terror” years of a girl and dad’s are universally portrayed as either aloof or completely terrified by the thought of their baby girl becoming a woman and all the hormonal and bodily changes that accompany those years.
But I think most dads have an inborn desire to be a little girl’s protector, to have a little princess to spoil, to be prince charming at the daddy-daughter dance and, God willing, walk her down the aisle and fight the tears as you give her away someday.
At least these things struck me as some of the purest, most magical experiences any man can have on this spinning ball we call Earth.
Then I had 2 boys. It has all come quite naturally. Trucks, balls, Legos and loud noises. Building things. Vroooming things around. Trains. Bears and lions. Dinosaurs and bugs. I can do this!
As we became pregnant with our third (and chose to not find out the gender again), I began to wonder if this would be my girl. Now the thought of having a girl seemed a little more…well…inconvenient. We got the boy thing figured out. Do I really want to start over and learn a whole new bag of tricks?
We lived in denial for about 9 months. Keri assumed boy. Many were guessing girl. I was agnostic….with suppressed hunch that I was going to be seeing the world through pink colored lenses very soon.
The night Keri went into labor (the first time with this one), we went out for dinner and made a wager. If we had a boy, I owed Keri some slave labor around the house with a summer landscaping project. If it was a girl (as I was now ready to bet on) Keri owed me some money toward my guitar fund.
After the second false alarm labor and now a week late, this baby was beginning to prove more difficult and putsy. I was thinking, “Come on, already!” It had a mind of its own, a bit stubborn and not coming out until she feels ready. My mind flashed forward a few years, the car all packed and running late again. I heard myself yelling up the stairs, “Come on, already! You look fine!” Then she emerges wearing too much make-up and gives me a snarky look and says, “I was going to the bathroom.” But that’s what she always says when she’s really trying on her 6th outfit of the day.
She thinks her makeup, hairstyle and clothes are what make her beautiful, but I know better. I know her natural beauty comes from her mother who’s never needed make up or more than 30 seconds in front of a mirror to look amazing. I’ve always found holey jeans and baseball caps the best look on her anyway.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After a week of indecision on the part of my unborn teenage girl, Abigail JoAnn swam into my life (an amazing water birth) on April 8, 2015, weighing 7 pounds 2 ounces and 18 inches long. I’m still in shock. “It’s a….girl?!?!” That was Keri’s reaction. I wasn’t surprised…but I wasn’t ready either.
Holding her is so similar to the boys….and yet totally different.
Same basic routine: cry, poop, pee, change diapers, swaddle, hold, dance and rock, another poopy diaper. Yet, each of these is slightly different with a girl. My instincts and baby talk and mindset are all different.
The first little reassurances and words to your baby boys are things like:
“That’s my boy.”
“You’re going to be a strong boy someday. We’re going to explore the world.”
You pray things like:
“May you be a man after God’s own heart” and “Lord, make him a good upright man who pursues you first.”
With a girl I’m finding myself saying things like:
“I’ll protect you, my princess. You’re my little girl.”
“You are so precious and beautiful.”
My prayers are different, too:
“May she know how much she is loved.”
“Lord, give her a strong sense of her infinite worth.”
“May she know that her beauty is more than skin deep.”
I feel the protector instinct more strongly holding her. I feel a weightier sense of responsibility in raising a girl than the boys. I am aware of how significant a role dads play in a young woman’s sense of security, self-esteem, and confidence. I’m aware that her experience of her dad’s emotions, words, care and love will deeply shape her future feelings and attitude toward other guys as a woman.
I think this is the heart of the issue for me. I really can’t wait to show Abigail what true love looks like and to set the bar extremely high for when she starts looking for a boyfriend and husband. Dads can be aloof and emotionally distant from their daughters, sending them off to find that affection and attention from other guys (a boyfriend or worse place). They can be hard, demanding and (unknowingly) sending the message that love must be earned through performance of some kind. Or, God-willing, dads can show a daughter what it means to be a daughter of God, a pure, spotless bride of Christ, who loves them unconditionally — enough to lay down his very life for their sake.
I can’t wait to demonstrate Christ’s love toward her even when she’s being difficult. I’ll always be here. I’ll always love her. She can push me away with emotional walls and all kinds of teenage rebel antics. Daddy will remain steady. Constant. Calm. She will always be my princess. Her worth and beauty in my eyes will always be far deeper than the latest fashion or the opinion of her current boyfriend.
Oh, and lest you think I’m only concerned with a daughter’s beauty, or am planning to raise a fluffy dress wearing princess, please read part two that explains why we named her Abigail. The biblical Abigail was “a woman of great beauty and intellect” (1 Sam. 25:3). Sounds like her mother!
So, welcome baby Abigail. I am so blessed to have you in my life and I will do my best to show you Christ’s love.
Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful” (1 Pet 3:3-5).
She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Prov. 3:15).