He brought me outside our little wooden shack and got on one knee to tell me the news. I was in shock and didn’t want to believe what I had just heard. His eyes were sad as he tried, unsuccessfully, to reassure me it would be okay. I would be okay. He kept saying encouraging words, as he usually did, but this time it really sounded like he was reciting words he had practiced over and over in his head.
I couldn’t really listen. He lost me at “divorce.” Tears can’t help but roll down my face as I write about that moment. You see, for that 9-year-old girl, it felt like the world was over. My dad was the only person I trusted, the only one person I always knew would protect me and understand my complex self. He saw good in me…and now he was leaving!
I grew depressed in the days, weeks, and months that followed this event… and it didn’t help that the “divorce papers” as we call them, were delivered while I was having lunch on December 16, exactly the day of my 10th birthday! I guess I didn’t fully accept it until that day…and I felt doomed and hopeless.
Divorce is tough on little girls… especially when that little girl loves spending time with her dad and many memories that “could have happened” get suddenly stolen from her hands:
- My father never took me to an amusement park, fishing, to the beach, or to the movies
- My dad didn’t’ tuck me in at night or read me any bedtime stories
- There were no daddy-daughter dates, in fact, we never even went to a restaurant
- My dad didn’t teach me to swim, roller blade, or ride a bike
- My dad didn’t help me with homework or school crafts
- My dad didn’t call me on the phone – we never had one growing up
- My father didn’t go to church with me or even read the scriptures with me
- My dad didn’t give me an allowance… and he didn’t buy me books or toys
- My father didn’t teach me how to drive
- My dad and I didn’t have tea parties and he didn’t throw a Quinceañera party for me
I sometimes turn into my 10-year-old self and want to gift her those tender moments with her daddy… those moments you see played in movies or in unsold photo-frames at the stores. I remember that it wasn’t what my dad did, but what he taught me and who he was – and still is – for me that makes him my hero, and unarguably, one of the protagonists in my life story. He’s a very handsome one, too. :).
Those things my father failed to do or we failed to do together are nothing compared to what he taught me.
- My dad has loved me when I felt unlovable. He taught me what unconditional love truly means. He’s a loving, affectionate, and affirming dad, and that has impacted my life (and my motherhood journey) in ways he could never imagine.
- My dad is a safe place of understanding where I can openly express myself and say what I feel without being judged. He’s an excellent communicator and a natural encourager and motivator. He can tell you he’s disappointed without making you feel like a disappointment.
- My dad makes me feel special. He always had a special nickname to call me, or a special story to tell about me. He found good things to say about me and he said them with pride, when most people around me seemed to only find flaws, weaknesses, and “wrongs.”
- My dad taught me that life is an adventure and it is meant to be enjoyed. If you get invited, go. If you have something new, don’t wait for a “special occasion” to wear it, use it, or eat it. If you have something to say, say it out loud. His teachings have given me so much freedom to live in the moment and have joy in the journey.
- My father taught me to smile at the face of adversity (even though you couldn’t tell from his serious look in pictures), and that complaining or “drama” only makes things worse. His “it is what it is” attitude is so admirable, and it gives me so much perspective.
- My daddy makes me laugh… and boy do I love to laugh. I don’t know how he does it, but I can call him when I’m having a fit, a struggle, or a cry-fest, and it all just goes out the window. He’s the funniest dad ever!
- My father is easy to please. Maybe easy is not the word. I mean, he wants what he wants and likes what he likes (can you tell I’m his daughter?). What I’m trying to say is that if you want to show him appreciation, you don’t have to guess or second guess… it’s clear. And he’ll get giddy, excited, and smiley. And you’ll hear his appreciation over and over. Gratitude is one of my core values, so this is huge for me.
- My daddy is hard working, honest, and diligent, yet balanced. I look up to him because he has always been an entrepreneur, which allowed him to always come home for lunch and take a nap afterward. He had high aspirations for me, yet there wasn’t a specific profession he had in mind, he just wants me to strive to achieve my full potential. So I became a mompreneur against the odds!
- My dad taught me to save and that’s why I saved enough money to enroll in English classes when I was 11. He taught me that it is a good thing to enjoy the money you make, as long as you spend it doing wholesome things you are passionate about. Knowing English was my door out of poverty in my youth and out of homelessness as a new single mom in the U.S.
- My daddy is a dreamer, a visionary, and an innovator. We both love business, philosophy, and technology. He has always been into politics and has always made time for that passion, and that’s how I am with my passions. He doesn’t really understand much about blogging and he’s not on social media, but he supports me and is proud of my accomplishments… and he tells me. Words of Affirmation is my top Love Language, and he knows that (without reading the book).
- My daddy supports me in my faith. When I decided to be baptized LDS, he didn’t join me, but he didn’t try to stop me either. He is not religious, he is a man of great faith and it shows in everything he does. He has godly attributes that inspire me to be a better person. He’s forgiving, he loves to help others, and motivate them to be their best. He always has animals and plants he’s caring for and he is so sweet while doing it. Though we planted trees together, I didn’t inherit his green thumb (he passed it on to my girls).
- Mi papi (my daddy) makes me feel beautiful. I cry every time I hear Julio Iglesias songs, especially “De Niña A Mujer” (“from little girl to woman”) because he used to sing songs dedicated to me and showed me his heart through one of his top passions: music. He’s also an expert at giving compliments – and he gives them freely and publicly to everyone but in such a genuine way that you feel like you’re the only person in the world. He’d say things like “no es el vestido, es la percha” which literally means “it’s not the dress, it’s the hanger” because he is very careful to not praise the clothes or shoes you’re wearing, but to emphasize how you make your attire look good instead.
- Probably the most important lesson my dad taught me was to own my choices. He always admitted he wasn’t perfect, and apologized for his shortcomings. He is open to other’s advice – of course, he makes sure you know he has the last say in deciding whether he will listen or not. My dad finds a significant lesson is the most insignificant event, learns from it, and teaches you about it so you don’t make the same mistake. I admire this quality and I strive to emulate it as much as I can.
We can be quick to forget to appreciate our dads, and they are usually hard on themselves because men are result and task oriented (fathers are doers!). However, dads are amazing. Fathers are loyal, caring, and selfless, and they teach us lessons that go way beyond “looking both ways when crossing the streets.”
A dad’s love transcends time and distance. I miss my dad (he lives in the Dominican Republic), yet all it takes is to hear his voice for me to feel home again, to feel his love for me, and to feel like a daddy’s girl who will always be beautiful and special to him.
Many dads are gone a lot, working hard to provide, and their obligations prevent them from attending events or having fun outings with their kids. I know first hand that it’s not what you do, but who you are that makes the biggest impact in your children. It’s time to tell the dads in our lives that they are doing a good job, a remarkable job, because dads teach children how to live. Let them not go unsung, unappreciated, and unnoticed.
A new video from Minute Maid shows that dads are “Doin’ Good” even when the demands of life, work, and parenting feel overwhelming and gives them a sense that what they do – or who they are – are not enough.
My girls have grown up without a father like mine and that breaks my heart deeply, but they have amazing men in their lives that help shape who they are.
My eyes are swollen and my heart is full as I write “Thank you, papi, for doing good as a father, even when you may not think you do. For teaching me to be vulnerable, confident, and courageous. Thank you for believing in me, comforting me and validating my feelings, and for helping me love myself, like you do. I’m so blessed to have you in my life. You’re my role model, my love, and my hero!”
Do you know of a dad who’s doing a great job but may not realize it? Post a shout out or a short story about him in the comment section below to let him know how incredible of a dad he is.
PS – The drawing is now closed. A random reader won a generous Minute Maid prize pack, which included a $50 Visa gift, aimed to make memories with her kiddos (or give it to someone she thinks could use it to keep Doin Good with his family).