Sunday, April 18, 2010
Strong Confident Women Part I
Strong Confident Women
Before we had kids I was sure I needed a son to be “complete”. This was my own naïve belief brought on by both growing up in a male chauvinistic household and my youthful ignorance. I thought there was so much I could teach a son and me being a confident guy I was sure I could be that strong but supportive father that I knew was so important. I could also teach a boy to love women yet to respect them at the same time. My personal belief is that the men that get in trouble in this world never learned to respect women and in turn they don’t respect the world around them. So I was the perfect guy to raise the perfect son…so I thought!
When my wife Laura first became pregnant I was really hoping for a son. But soon that would all change when we were told about concerns with her pregnancy. After some routine blood tests our doctor told us there was a chance our child could be mentally retarded (yes that is what they called it 22 years ago) and I was scared to death. I already had worries about being a good father and this type of handicap made me wonder if I was tough enough for this level of trials. The fear associated with this possibility hit me very hard and made me feel not only afraid but helpless. So we were both relieved beyond belief when our doctor said it was a false alarm and our baby girl was perfectly normal. It was at that moment that my first child being a son didn’t really matter anymore. You know that old saying as long as they have ten fingers and ten toes? It’s true.
Maddie was born very true to her nature and she demanded much of our attention. Laura’s labor lasted 19 hours and much of it was what they call “back labor”. Laura had previously made the decision to have a natural child birth with no drugs but I think she ended up regretting that choice later. Me? I could have never done it. You have probably heard that joke that if men had the babies there wouldn’t be any? I really believe that. Laura spent hours on her hands and knees trying to get pain relief as I massaged her back. I later would joke with her that she had the easy part. She got rest on the table while I HAD TO stand and rub her back for hours and hours. I just don’t know why she doesn’t think I am funny.
After being up all night and knowing that mom and baby were fine I decided to go home, grab a couple hours of sleep and a shower before I brought the girls home. As I was getting ready to walk out the door on my way back to the hospital I had one of the most significant yet surreal thoughts of my life up to that point. I realized that when I returned to my house just a few hours later I would be bringing home someone I would be responsible for, for the rest of my life. This hit me like a ton of bricks. It was at this moment I began to appreciate my role as the father of a daughter.
Three years later Katie was born. Laura had experienced the natural child birth experience and once was enough. This time an epidural was on the must have list. And boy (excuse the term), what a difference drugs made. During her labor Laura chatted. She played games. She even napped. And before she knew it, it was time for Laura to push and our little bald baby was born. Another girl! At first I was a little disappointed foolishly holding on to the hope for a boy. But that feeling soon faded as I realized I liked the idea of being the father of girls, as in plural. Laura’s doctor teased me saying that when I become an old man a son would just lock me in the nursing facility but daughters would take me into their home and take care of their daddy. I am hoping there is some truth to that.
Seventeen months later Mackenzie came to this world very similar to how she lives her life today…big and bold. We rushed to the hospital beginning to understand that Mac was not the patient type. Little did we know that it would only be 45 minutes later she would arrive. And when we did meet her for the first time she made sure every human being in the hospital could hear her scream. I have two other daughters. I know what it’s like to have girls and what they sound like. They are soft and sweet and delicate. Who the hells baby is that? This one was different. But it was at this point I knew it was wonderful to be the father of three wonderfully different girls. And I was very glad Mackenzie was a girl. It was now I was figuring how I could make a difference being the father of three girls, helping them become strong. Besides a boy would have just screwed up the mix…AND he would have looked ridiculous in all those hand me down dresses we had in our closets. By the way, thanks for all those pretty little dresses, Grandma.
I have always thought women are special. They are just possibly God’s greatest creation. Is there anything as wonderful as when we men first discover how soft a woman’s skin is? Or seeing the sparkle in the special girl’s eye? How about how the smile of the woman you love can melt most any man’s heart? I have always told my girls that a man should treat them like they are precious gems and if they don’t, get rid of them. Don’t get me wrong I think women need to be strong and independent all on their own. Their self worth should not be tied to how a man treats them or what he thinks of her. They do not need men to be confident but men need to respect them. The way I was raised helped teach me it was my job to open the door for any woman I was with but I also think this came natural for me. I always understood that I could honor women as an equal AND open the door for them. Or by bringing them flowers for no reason other than to show my affection. I wanted my daughters to find someone that would make them feel as beautiful inside as they are on the outside. I realized the way to do this was to raise them to be strong and confident. This became my job.