My dad took Deladis fishing today. It used to be me he took. He was always there to pick up the pieces for me. To pick up pieces, when he had so many of his own. He was never afraid to let me see exactly how he felt. I grew up thinking that most men laughed contagiously and cried real tears that wet shirtsleeves. It was my dad who gave me the confidence that I could be anything and do anything I wanted and it didn’t matter at all that I was a girl. I could be rough as a cob and pretty as a picture all while creating or discovering things worthy of a Noble Prize. My dad has no sons, and as I have grown I don’t know if his confidence in his girls comes from a general confidence in the equality between genders or just those who share his genes. Could I do those things because I am a girl or because I am a Hansel? It doesn’t matter. When I fell short to others in my life either in my looks or the interests I took, my dad was always there telling me that I am and was doing things special.
I have wondered what gave my dad the means to raise his girls in such a way. Was it having two vibrant sisters? Was it having a determined and hardworking mother who wasn’t afraid for her son to be both an athlete and one interested in artistic endeavors? Having chosen a husband now, who is raising our girls in much the same way my father raised me, I’m beginning to believe in mothers empowering their sons to embrace their whole self. John’s mother is an amazing woman as well, and supported her son and his talents no matter how far out they have seemed.
Watching my husband be a father has made me admire him more. I know my girls are in good hands. I know that when I fail them, he will be there to pick up the pieces. I was a daddy’s girl, and in many ways both of my girls are as well. I remember a nurse distinctly saying after Deladis was born, “You’ll have to have a boy now, so that you can have one that will love you.” Well, I have two girls, and they love their mother, and I am enjoying watching them love their daddy too. I’m enjoying them thinking that he hung the moon, as I thought my daddy did.
I’ve been using John’s camera for a few days since mine has broken. It’s a fancy art camera, but he has used it to take photos of the girls and me. It has let me see us through his eyes. I’ll let them speak to you as well. (All photos composed and shot by John Haywood.)