We’re not supposed to look at things differently after having daughters. Brock Turner, Harvey Weinstein, income inequality and the new war against access to contraception and the right to choose. These things should outrage any man, regardless of the gender of their child.
We’re not supposed to but we do, and I think that is OK. I think that when we have someone that we love we begin to imagine them in that position, that it becomes more personal, more real. My heart aches for the victims and families of Las Vegas but it will never match the devastation that I felt after Sandy Hook. Every time I looked at my little girl’s face in the days following that tragedy I saw their faces and I cried.
That’s right, I’m a man and I cried. Must be some kind of pussy or something.
It’s something that I’ve been called before.
Fifteen years ago I was in a several year long relationship that ended somewhat amicably but didn’t stay that way. Her next boyfriend was an older biker, a gang member in a Hell’s Angels affiliate and embodied just about every stereotype that might immediately bring to mind. It was hard to argue when reminded how much more “manly” he was than me.
I have no idea what happened to them, no desire to know.
But I worry about my girls, about what sort of men might be in their future. How “manly” they might be. So far the teenager’s choices have been varied, no particular type that I can ascertain other than all being horrible choices. The six year old just likes to fight, her “boyfriends” so far being the boys that like to wrestle at recess. She might have a bit of her mother in her in that regard.
What do I want for them?
I’ve seen this meme a lot, also seen it criticized a lot. They are legitimate criticisms. Should it really be that hard just to be that kind of man anyway? To be kind and generous and loving? Do we really need to make it personal, to have to visualize someone we care about to not be shitty people?
I don’t know. Probably not.
I like to think that I’ve always been a pretty good guy. I know that there are many who would disagree with that assessment.
I like to think that after meeting my current wife, helping to raise her daughter and having one of my own that I’ve become even better. I know that there are many who would disagree with that assessment.
The question is : am I the type of guy that I would want my daughters to be with, to marry? When I look in the mirror is this what I would want for them?
I think so.
Somebody handier around the house would be good, somebody that fixes stuff, can change their own oil or hammer in a nail halfway straight. I want somebody that will tell them they love them as often as I tell them, not as often as I tell my wife. Somebody a little quicker to say “I’m sorry” or admit when they are wrong.
As a parent the number one thing that I want for my girls is for things to be better. For everything to be better. My life has been pretty damn good up until now. I want theirs to be better.
I’ve been with my wife for almost thirteen years, been married for just over nine. Over that time I can look in the mirror and tell myself that I’ve always tried my best. I can look in that same mirror and know that it always hasn’t always been good enough.
Is that what I want for my girls?
Of course not.
I want better.