Hey future fathers, here's why you need to pray for a daughter
I couldn't find her. I had that moment of panic that all parents have when things are "too quiet." I went looking, calling her name.
Then I found her:
Staring. The light of a million future choices dancing on her cheeks. So filled with wonder. Not yet tainted by cynics. I just sat there and watched her.
And that's when something I had told a friend a week earlier popped back into my head: Every dad needs to have a daughter. On this morning, I believe it more than ever.
The idea has its roots in one of my college classes. We were studying constitutional law and read an article by a Catholic priest who was making the argument for marriage. He claimed that marriage domesticated men. That, in turn, was good for society. At the time, I was indifferent to it. Then I got married.
Yup, marriage domesticates men.
After marriage, I went out less. I learned to put others first. I gave more of myself. I started loving yard work. I used to hate yard work. I remember one of my best friends even commenting after I paid for his dinner, "Wow, you've really changed."
That domestication continued on for another four years until a year and a half ago when I found Brett in the bathroom staring down at a positive pregnancy test. That's quite the story. One I'll save for another time.
As we waited to find out the sex, I was hoping for a boy. We had the named picked out. Jonny. And I was convinced it was happening. But looking back, all that was really a desire rooted in comfort. I knew boys. I was one. And my sisters — although I love them dearly — weren't angels growing up.
I cringed at the thought of having to deal with a first period.
I rolled my eyes thinking about hormone-infested 12 year old boys coming around.
The potential drama.
And then Brett told me we were having a girl.
It took me 24 hours to come to grips with that. I called my friends who were dads to baby girls. I think I went and got dinner by myself. I thought — a lot. Not because I was disappointed, but because I was scared.
And then she came. I cried as much as she did when she came out. Tears of utter and unexplainable joy. (In fact, it was just supposed to be me and Brett in the delivery room, but at the last minute she asked her mom to stay because I was crying so much before Annie ever came out that I couldn't coach Brett through her contractions.)
Now we're eight months into her little life and I've found the cliche is true for a reason: I wouldn't trade it for anything. I couldn't imagine having a boy. I want Annie. For so many reasons I want Annie.
And that brings me to this morning. If marriage domesticates men, having a baby girl does something exponentially greater.
I find myself just wanting to be home with my family.
Sure, I still go out with friends, but it's different. I'm not out aimlessly. There's more purpose to it.
I find myself daydreaming about my family in the afternoons.
I'm enjoying going to bed at 9 p.m. because I know what awaits me at 5 a.m.
I used to watch 6-8 football games during a weekend. Now I'm lucky to watch one. And I don't miss it.
I'm sweeter. I'm gentler. I'm even more of a sap than I was before. This little girl has done something to me. Something I never expected. And I love it.
So to all the future dads out there: Pray for a daughter. It's one of the best things that could ever happen to you. And it's why you can find yourself sitting on a kitchen floor at 8 a.m., staring at a tiny girl, knowing there's no other place you would rather be.