I read her text. I wiped the sweat out of my eyes and re-read the text. “Have you ever considered writing a guest post for me…maybe a post from a father’s perspective…?” I got her request over a week ago and I have been struggling to get my thoughts together ever since.
And it’s crazy. Because normally I can talk your ear off, but when it comes to gathering thoughts and putting words to emotionally charged issues, I am like almost every other man on the planet. My words get twisted, my thoughts run together, I get frustrated and pretty soon I start looking for something else to think about. And I know that right now there are some of you starting to think “What’s wrong with this man?” Well…it’s simple…“Brain Damage”! Yes you read it right; I have brain damage.
It occurred at about six weeks after conception. Because like every other male child, my brain was flooded with testosterone. It may seem like a small thing, but this testosterone bath actually killed or severely damaged areas of the brain that are used for verbal and emotional processing. I now struggle to put words to my emotions and feelings, and I only want to communicate about topics and issues of which I understand and have some control (Chapter three of “Bringing up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson is an eye opener). I don’t say this to bore you and I hope you’ll stick with me for a minute, because this simple bit of information explains why communication is often strained between fathers and daughters.
Let’s say, as a daughter, you don’t understand why your dad can’t or won’t talk to you about your infertility issues. You want to tell him about your struggles, but whenever you begin to speak, he never seems to hear a word you say and when given the chance, he quickly changes the subject.
Well, here’s the skinny…
First: no matter how hard he tries, he can’t understand your intense desire to have a child of your own. In his entire life he has never once had the urge to be pregnant and give birth, so…he struggles to understand your longing…and trying to explain your need is like trying to smell the color blue. (You can’t smell a color and that is my point)
Second: he can’t fix the problem; and if a father can’t fix it, and if he can’t understand it, he gets frustrated and begins to feel like a failure as a man and especially as a dad. The easiest thing for him to do at this point is put the issue in a box, tape it up and put it on the top shelf in the very back of his damaged brain. I did not say this was the right thing to do, I am only telling you how we think and feel from a father’s perspective. But let’s be clear…we may not understand your longing and pain, but that does not mean we don’t care. As fathers, we care. We care very, very much! We just have trouble putting our feelings into words and actions.
So dads…if you are reading this today, please listen up. Because I want to give you some pointers.
You may be at a loss for words, but that is no excuse. Walmart, CVS, Hallmark and even the Dollar Store all have cards with lots and lots of words. All you have to do is sign your name and send the card.
Or how about this: Why not go out and buy a first? Buy the first baseball mitt for the grandson that only exists in the twinkle of his daddy’s eye, or how about a first doll for the granddaughter that for now, lives only in the heart and mind of her mother–which is also your baby girl.
Are you a builder? Build a first. Last year I built a footstool for my future grandchild. Right now, this child is just a twinkle and a hope, but the stool tells my daughter that she has a daddy that cares and hopes for her and her future baby. (You can read more about the footstool here.)
We have all heard it’s the thought that counts, but that is a bunch of hogwash! A thought without an action counts for nothing. Dads, if you find yourself thinking of your daughter during the day, send her a text, give her a call, or better yet pray for her. No one understands our struggle and the workings of our damaged brains better than our Father in heaven. He can give us the right words, He can give us the ability to better understand and He can give us eyes to see the things that are not yet seen.
Seeing the unseen takes faith and a dream. So start dreaming with your daughter. If you want her to know that you really care, let her know that you share in her dream of one day having a child of her own. You don’t have to understand it, and you don’t have to fix it. All you have to do is catch hold of her dream and dream with her. She may be grown, but she is still your baby girl. Don’t let your damaged brain stand between you and your daughter. Listen to her dreams and try to find your words. Put actions to your thoughts, and let her know that you are doing your best to smell the color blue.
And finally, to all the daughters that begin each day wondering if next year will be different, to the grown up little girls who still long for their daddy to “see my baby,” to the daughters that have no one to call their father, and to my own baby girl…There will always be someone who will tell you that you need to face reality and get on with your life. They will tell you that your situation is hopeless and your dream is actually a fantasy. They will tell you that nobody really cares. But here is the truth; you have a Father in heaven that cares. He knows your every thought, hope and longing and He is in the business of making the impossible, possible. So, talk to your Daddy in heaven and thank Him for what He has done and what He is going to do. And one day when the impossible happens…when your dreams become a reality…be sure and let me know what the color blue smells like.
~With love from a hopeful Papa of a future baby bird
Awesome recommended readings from my father about the differences between men and women
“Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti” by Bill and Pam Ferrel
“Bringing Up Boys” by Dr. James Dobson
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