I wish every girl grew up knowing that her dad thought she was awesome.
My earliest memories include my dad singing to me as I drifted off to sleep, every night. It wasn't just me. I shared a bunk with my 12-months-younger sister. We took turns being sugar and spice, we were everything nice and Daddy's little girl.
I was still his little girl when I was in morning Kindergarten. I loved the days when, instead of going home for the afternoon, I got to walk to his dental office and hang out, colouring, until he was done for the day. Those were the days before we connected the dots between sugar consumption and tooth decay. Dad had a stash of chocolate bars in a special drawer at his office. But it wasn't the chocolate that drew me there. It was Dad.
When I was 6, Dad had been called as a lay minister, presiding over a number of congregations in a radius of a couple hundred kilometers from our home. Between his dental practice and his church work, he wasn't home much, but he still found a way to sing to us. And I loved to travel with him on his Sundays away. We'd chat away the hours of driving and then I'd sit on the stand with him at church.
Fast forward to my teens. I was an ugly duckling and a social misfit. Well-meaning male friends told me they wished the girls they liked were nice like me. Or better yet, "Don't worry. Some day you'll be beautiful." But it didn't really matter because my dad was adamant about my worth. When the boy I'd crushed on for four years was a no-show to my 14th birthday party, Dad was very clear about his opinion of that boy's intelligence. When my friends were dating and I was not, he assured me that I'd be inundated with male attention when I went away to school.
I wasn't. And there were lonely evenings when my roomates were all on dates and I wondered what I was doing wrong. But I didn't question my worth. I didn't need a boyfriend to feel valued because my dad had me absolutely convinced that I was precious.
Fast forward again. The swan emerged. I married, had four beautiful children. And then my husband and best friend lost himself in a personal crisis and turned into my enemy. He said vicious things. They hurt, but they could not stick to me. My dad's voice was in my mind, telling me those ugly words were not true.
Eventually, I had to leave. I got out and I managed to stay out because I had a dad who let me know what I was worth.
I wish every girl in the world had a dad who taught her of her worth like mine has done for me.