I love that moment when we’re apart in a crowded space. I see her before she sees me. I watch as she scans the room. Her eyes narrow and even from a distance I can tell she’s biting the inside of her cheek. I don’t draw attention to myself. I wait and let that nervousness build until her hands fidget and he head moves back and forth too quickly. And then she finds me already smiling at her. She returns the smile, and the tension leaves her shoulders. Her jaw unclenches. She mouths the word, “Daddy.” I mouth the words, “Little girl”
It’s this secret we have. You might be able to catch it if you’re keenly aware. If you study the way she nestles her head into my shoulder or the way she stands up on her toes to kiss me, you could see the little girl in her. If you watched the way I wrapped my arm around her or the way I step in front of her at the first hint of danger, you might be able to see the Daddy in me. But to most it’s this thing that exists between me and my little girl under the surface. They don’t know it’s there but they feel the connection and they’re jealous. They wonder what we have and how to get it for themselves.
The answer to that question is vast. I could write about it over and over again and I don’t know that I’d ever explain it perfect. But it starts with an unsafe world where too many seek to hurt my little girl. Too many have hurt her. From family to exes to strangers, the list is long. And I listened to her express that pain. I imagined how it would feel for me to have experienced it myself. I let that feeling change me. I let it drive me to make sure I’m never the source of that hurt. I want to become the line in the sand that says “That’s in the past and you’re safe now” Of course, I know there will be times she doesn’t believe it, where echos of past suffering ring out in the present. I won’t raise my voice or slam things around the house. I wont become another man trying to convince her she’s worthless. I keep reminding her in this space only things she wants to hurt her can. And in that way, after a life time of having no control, she gets to decide the things that rip her to pieces. Giving me the control she wants me to have is her clawing back the control she lost- the control that maybe she never had. It builds until she’s ready to take a leap of faith. It’s saying, “I give you the power to destroy me, Daddy. I believe with all my heart you wont.”