One of my jobs as Daddy is to rock Ariabella to sleep each night after reading to her. If all goes well, by the time we finish the second or third book she is rubbing her eyes, my clue to turn off the light and usher her into night-night land.
Of course, some nights she literally kicks and screams before succumbing to sleep, but for the most part her internal clock knows what is supposed to happen at 7:30 p.m. And that is also a very special time for Daddy – not to mention for Mommy, who finally gets time for herself after playing with Ariabella, feeding her, cleaning up after her, changing her, and following her around the house for the past 12 hours. It’s my time to bond with my daughter alone, to read to her, to comfort her, to be amazed by her.
In those moments after she closes her eyes for the last time and I see relaxation come across her face, her entire body going limp in my arms, my heart swells at the realization that we created this beautiful little human being. And these thoughts make me forget about how tired I am or any other anxiety from the work day.
There’s a saying that anyone can be a father, but it takes a special man to be Daddy. I understood the basic message, but actually having a child opens your eyes to its true meaning. The definition of being a real man has nothing to do with how much you can bench press or how much you make. It’s a transformation that occurs when you see how your daughter (or son) looks at you, embraces you, says “Daddy,” falls asleep in your arms and convinces you, finally, that you have a greater mission in life than whatever you once thought it was. And that’s to provide for your family, to set a good example, to love the child with everything you have and to protect her at all costs. Especially when she’s at her most susceptible, like sleeping in your arms without a care in the world because she knows you are holding her tight.
That’s when you know what your true point in life is and that you’ve finally become a man.