My Daddy Didn’t Raise a Princess

My dad’s memorial service was Friday, December 16th. We opted for a small informal service with family. During the service, guests were invited to share a memory about my dad or just their thoughts about him as a person. As people talked I heard words like kind, love, innovative, meticulous, role model.

I had intended to share something as well or at least try to, but the more I thought about what to share, the harder it became for me. It was difficult for me to unravel one thought or memory from a lifetime of them. This is a man who I literally knew and loved my whole life, and I was struggling to break a piece apart from the whole.

Sure, I could have said that he was a good man, a caring father, a dedicated husband, but these descriptions just didn’t seem like enough. And, I didn’t want to aggrandize him either. I wanted to tell what my dad has meant to me and what he has taught me, and I just couldn’t boil it down to something I felt I could share in a snippet; and I knew if I talked too long I would just turn in to a blubbering mess, so instead, I will share what I would have said if I could have.

As I have thought about my father, the memories that stand out the most to me are those rooted in the kind of person he has helped me to become. I am responsible, dedicated, logical, and I can take care of myself. Although I am sure my dad thought I was pretty and doted on me for being his little girl, he didn’t ever treat me like I was just a pretty little thing. I never felt objectified or less for being a girl. I always felt respected and encouraged to share my thoughts, opinions, and to make my own choices.

I was always encouraged to be smart and was taught the skills needed to take care of myself and to be confident in my abilities. My dad never pushed me to get married, or even really gave me much feedback on any of my boyfriends (unless I asked). I appreciate that he trusted my abilities to make my own good choices and/or to fix any bad choices I might have made.

He encouraged me to go to college, but did not pressure me to do so. And when I talked to him at one point about possibly quitting to get in to real estate, he encouraged me to think about the decision and go with the choice that I thought would be best for me. I decided to stay in school, and I am glad I did, but I am forever grateful my dad let me figure the choice out on my own instead of telling me what to do.

Before I went away to school my dad took me and Dana (my best friend) to San Marcos to visit and we spent a weekend looking at the campus and the town. Dad took us to a local hangout and we played pool. He taught us how to make the 9 ball in the pocket off the break, but I have to tell you that I have only accomplished this once. And I think I only ever beat my dad at a game of pool once.

Before I left for college my dad made sure I had a decent car and I knew how to change a flat tire, change the battery, and knew some basic terminology so I wouldn’t get “had” if I needed to take my car in to the shop. He printed a Mapsco page and highlighted the route to and from home, and I used it often. He knew I am terrible with directions and wanted to make sure I could make it home if I needed to. And when I showed up with my car packed at Thanksgiving break and the news that I wouldn’t be returning to school, I didn’t get yelled at. I explained why I didn’t want to return, I got a job, and I started school at the junior college. I kind of think my dad liked having me home even though he would have never admitted it.

When I finally graduated college, I moved in to the house on O’Connor and began helping my dad remodel it. Again, he taught me how to do things like sand a wood floor, lay tile, grout, etc. I will never forget the day that I called my dad to tell him the thermostat was broken and the air wouldn’t come on. He said, “Did you fix it?” He didn’t say he would be right over to take care of it. He talked me through what to buy, and I did. And I fixed it. By myself. And that accomplishment meant so much more to me than a tiara and a tutu ever would.

I am sure there were times that I wished my dad would have just done stuff for me, but I don’t remember these times. What I remember is that he took the time to teach me to do them myself, and this has meant much more in my life.

I was my dad’s daughter and his little girl, but he did not teach me to be a princess; he taught me to be an independent woman who knows her own worth.

I encourage those of you dads with little girls to help her get her hands dirty, teach her that her worth lies not in her looks but in her heart and her mind. Take the tiara and the tutu off sometimes and hand her a tool belt and teach her to use it. These skills and these times with you will impact her life more than you will ever know.

My dad wasn’t perfect, but he was a good man, a good father, and good role model. I am forever grateful that I wasn’t my daddy’s little princess.

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