Depression, pride, and a sort of bittersweet joy, all in one go. Thanks, I guess, sweetie.
I could handle it when my darling daughter started wearing a bra.
I could handle it when she has two Instant Messenger windows going at the same time, chatting with two different boys at the same time.
I could handle it when she and her friends spend hours discussing which picture of Legolas in her scrapbook makes Orlando Bloom look the hottest.
I could even handle it when she told me that a boy in her class who moved a thousand miles away is sending her e-mails declaring his undying love for her.
I didn’t handle it well, but I handled it.
What I cannot handle is for my darling daughter to march into my office at home while I am fretting over the logic of a match/merge I am trying to implement, to drop a bombshell on me.
“Daddy, it’s kind of a girl thing, but I can tell you. I just got my period.”
No, I did not fall to the floor weeping. No, I did not run from the room screaming with my fingers in my ears. I managed to congratulate her, and hug her, and make sure she is all set up with Feminine Hygiene Products Too Terrible to Mention.
It’s not like she is not prepared. She has had The Talk with her mother. She has had The Talk at school. She is neither the first nor the last of her friends to experience the joys of womanhood, and she was the calmest one in the room when she made her announcement.
No, the unprepared one was me.
Yes, I knew this had to happen eventually. It is like the shock I experienced when I found that I could no longer lift her effortlessly when I hugged her, or when she legitimately beat me at checkers, or started a conversation over the dinner table about something she read in the newspaper. My little girl is little no longer, and she never will be again.
Another long step has been taken on that parabola that leads her out of my house, and out from under my protection, and out into that big mean nasty world filled with teen-age boys and other uncivilized scum. And, sure as day follows night, she will pick out one piece of scum, and marry him, and bend him to her inexorable will as she has bent me. And I won’t get to hear her voice at the dinner table, informing me of everything that happened to her today, and what she thought about everything that happened to her, and what her friends thought about what she thought, and what she thought about what they thought. I’ll just be that old guy who spoils her kids rotten and tells them embarassing stories about the funny stuff Mommy did when she was little.
And who remembers what their Mommy was like, when she was still my little girl. Because I love the beautiful young woman that she has become.
But I will never forget my little girl. Even if she is gone forever.