To The Men Who Raise Strong Daughters

To my father, 

The first decision you made that shaped the woman I am, was made before my life yet existed. You married a strong, bold, intelligent woman. You married an equal. You married my mother. In so doing, I grew up learning from the two of you that fathers were not above mothers, that men did not rule over women, that my thoughts, values, and opinions mattered and should thus be treated so. That marriage, above all, was trust and partnership. 

Through your emotion, all the “I love yous" and tears we shared (sometimes over Toy Story 3), I learned that men are strong in many ways, and that emotions were not weakness. You made me feel safe, and cared for, and wanted at all times. And you make me and everyone around you laugh. All. The. Time. You bring joy to so many people, whether it be by dressing up as a minion for the kids who trick or treat at your office, or by asking why Fergie is singing about architecture in "London Bridge" (eye-roll), or cracking up to Leslie Jones commentating the Olympics. 

You have shown me the world. Because of you I have been across the world, in exploration, and service, and curiosity. I have experienced other cultures, and stared at hundreds of artworks. Thank you for teaching me about art. You were a father who went to the Ballet with me and mom, who took me the Broadway, and museums, and symphonies. You have instilled a love of art within me from a very young age, and it has fueled my creativity, and informed my opinions in so many ways. Thank you for spending hours in museums with me when mom and my brothers are bored. Art has and always will bind us.  

You have encouraged me, and you have pushed me, but you have never made me feel a failure. In school, you expected good grades and straight A’s, but when I got my first B you let me know that my future was not ruined, that the world was still ahead of me, that I could still achieve. You taught me to work hard, but to forgive myself and try again if I fell short.

Dad, you have pushed me and encouraged me and believed in me. You expect me to fulfill my goals not because you want me to be successful but happy. You give me guidance, love, and support. I love you, and thank you for the hand you’ve had in my life. I am who I am because you helped raised me. And here is to all the men who raise strong, independent, bold women, you give us courage and conviction with your support, wisdom through your examples, and hope with your love. Thank you. 

-Your daughter

Photo sources: All photos are my own.