My wife and I raised three daughters, and I’m proud to say I’m still here to tell about it. They are now 34 (adopted from El Salvador as a baby), 31 (adopted from Washington DC as a baby) and 24 (my wife got pregnant at age 42, in spite of what the doctors told us in our twenties).
It was great fun when the girls were little. With the first two, we had a finished basement full of toys and I got down on the floor and played with them all the time. By the time the youngest was old enough to play, I could get down on the floor to play with her, I just couldn’t get up again.
As a father, I was overly protective of my daughters. When they were toddlers, at six-foot-seven I would walk along behind them, bent over with arms out to catch them before they fell down. I’m sure that’s where my lower back problems started.
Later when boys came for a visit, I always met them at the front door, and at my height I was able to put the fear of God into most of them. One day my oldest, a high school junior at the time, invited over a young man who was also six-seven and three hundred pounds of muscle—he later joined the NFL. My daughter gave me no advanced warning. She just grinned an evil grin when I opened the door and found myself standing eye-to-eye with this behemoth. Fortunately, he turned out to be a nice guy.
As the girls grew up, my wife and the oldest daughter in the house were always arguing. When the oldest left home, the next daughter in line took up the fight. These arguments were often heated and noisy, and my male cat Norbert, and I would take the manly way out and head for the basement. Norbert and I spent many peaceful hours down there, him on my lap, watching TV through our eyelids until the storm upstairs blew over.
As each daughter grew, she seemed to follow the same pattern…incredibly sweet and cuddly as a small child, cute and energetic as she got older, and then around twelve or thirteen it turned into “who are you and what did you do with my sweet little daughter?” I felt like a great father when they were small, but once each one reached the early teenage years I was lost. I no longer knew what to say to them, what to talk about, or how to approach them without making them mad. And they all seemed to agree that I got a lot dumber as each of them reached the teen years.
I wanted to participate in my kids’ lives as they grew. I made sure to spend time with them, read to them, attend all their school events, help with homework when I could (calculus in high school?), and was there to help referee the endless fights. I learned that as they grew, they didn’t always want me around, like when they were with their friends. It went from “I love you Daddy” to “go away strange man.”
Way before the #MeToo movement, I did everything that I could to raise my daughters to be strong, independent women. When it came to boys and men, my advice to them was consistent, if he disrespects you, bullies you or harms you in any way, kick him in the balls as hard as you can, and if that doesn’t work gouge his eyes out. If that doesn’t work, call dad, and I’ll come running with my shotgun. I also tried very hard to get them to think for themselves and learn to be independent. This has come back to haunt me, because they weren’t supposed to take that tact with old dad.
What amazes me the most, though, is how I can have lived with a wife and three daughters for so many years and still be so clueless about women. When one of them wants to talk about a problem, I still try to offer solutions. Definitely the wrong approach. I also have no idea how these women can multitask like they do. My youngest daughter can be on social media while cooking, watching TV and talking to me on the phone, and she’s quite comfortable with this. I’m much more focused, which is the simple way of saying I can barely accomplish one thing at a time. My youngest will happily tell you that when we drove across the country together, I almost tossed my car phone out the window on several occasions while fumbling around trying to take photos as interesting things passed by.
Now that they are grown and get along with my wife, I am astounded by listening to their conversations. They jump shift topics with lightning speed, and I have no way to keep up. God help me when I try to converse with more than one of them at the same time. I’m still on the subject of shopping for shoes while they are three subjects ahead talking about current events. My mind works linearly, while theirs seems like chaos to me, and yet for them it works just fine.
The bad news, I raised three beautiful daughters, I put in a tremendous amount of effort, had no idea what I was doing, and I am all worn out. The good news is, I raised three beautiful daughters, and they all turned out great, independent, self-sufficient, and every now and then one of them will give me a call, just to let me know how they are doing. Overall assessment…it was well worth the effort and I wouldn’t change a thing, although I should have taken more naps.