I have two girls. Norah is 7, and Aspen is 2. I always assumed raising little girls would be different than I expected. I have one sister, and she is seven years older than me. After my father left, she was more like a second mother than a sister. I honestly didn’t know what it would be like to be around little girls all day. I didn’t realize how much power my daughters would have over me. They can get me to do things that, as a man, I have avoided and sometimes even repeatedly said “no” to. This isn’t to say that I’m particularly masculine. I’m not. But I am also not prone to wearing makeup and handling baby dolls — which I have now done many times. I’m basically a pro.
Because of my daughters I have:
1. Gone to the pool with turquoise painted toenails.
2. Learned how to remove lipstick, pink sparkly eye shadow, and blush from my own face.
3. Argued with a little girl for several months about getting a cat. I told her no and that I was the boss and that we just weren’t getting a cat regardless of how cute they are or how much she begged. I put my foot down. Then I bought a cat.
4. Learned how to speak in puppy, kitty, and princess. None of these languages will help me professionally.
5. Said to myself, “Some of these My Little Pony songs are catchy.”
6. Been filled with an unexpected mix of fear and rage after seeing my daughter hold a little boy’s hand.
7. Had barrettes placed in my beard so I could look like a glamorous princess.
8. Realized just how easily sweet dimples and the words “I wuv you, Daddy” can manipulate me.
9. Swaddled a baby doll, rocked it to sleep, and then kissed it.
10. Learned all the words to “Let It Go” without trying.
11. Drove to work alone at 6 a.m. while singing “Let It Go” because the damn song is always stuck in my head.
12. Cried because my daughter was crying.
13. Dressed a stuffed panda in a princess dress and then invited it to a tea party.
14. Fully realized what “all women are someone’s daughter” really means.
15. Managed to keep my cool in extremely irritating situations, like when a little girl stomps her foot and tells me I’m a meany head for cutting her toast in squares rather than triangles.
16. Been told by a little girl that I just don’t get it, realized that I actually don’t, and wondered if I ever will.
17. Learned to use princess analogies as a learning tool to teach everything from friendliness to hygiene. “Anna always washes her hands after using the restroom. Let me tell you a story…”
18. Realized how important it is to tell little girls they are strong, creative, charming, determined, and intelligent in addition to how beautiful they are.
19. Walked through a grocery store with two little girls in a cart, both dressed as princesses, and discussed the shopping list in a British accent as though I were their butler.
20. Looked at my daughters and longed for them to grow up in a world where the sky is the limit and there isn’t some glass ceiling blocking women from achieving anything, while feeling a deep fear that we might never reach equality.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I’ve done more, and I will do more. But what I want to show is how children change a parent. And few things have changed me as much as raising little girls.