So last month, Miss K's dad accused me of being a man hater. He told me he didn't want his daughter raised in a home where men were evil. He did this because I had spent several weeks trying to instill in him just a tiny sense of what his role as Miss K's dad is. I then got drunk and admitted several things which I have never told him in the five years that we've known each other, but that's another story entirely. But the culmination of all my actions, instead of imbuing in him a feeling of importance when it came to his role in Miss K's life instead made him see me as a man hating charlatan. So I had to sit back and ask myself, am I a man hater?
I'll admit, my relationship with men haven't been stellar over the years. For 30 years now, I've had pretty poor luck when it comes to the males in my life. As I've admitted in the past, my relationship with my dad was always terrible. He couldn't cope with me when I was growing up because I was epileptic. That was just too much for him to deal with, so he ignored me. That lack of a relationship with my dad affected me deeply, and still does to this day. Most of my boyfriends have been manifestations of dad, in some way or another. Some have his temper, others have his ingenuity, and total lack of ability to finish a project. All were manipulative. I can safely say none of them smacked me around, but if I'd continued down the same path, who's to say that wouldn't have happened one day?
Once I became pregnant, I realised I couldn't keep making terrible choices in men anymore, because someone more important than me was now watching my every step with interest. And it was my job to make sure she never makes the same mistakes I do. But it's not just my job to mold this little girl, it's also her father's. The first relationship with a male that any child ever has is their father. For fathers, this means you need to teach your girls what they should expect from their men, and you need to teach your sons how to be the men that women will want. Given how much my relationship with my dad has shaped me, I need to know that Miss K is being raised by a man who will teach her that she deserves to be respected by men, she deserves to be treated as an equal, not a trophy, and most certainly not only as a sex toy.
For the most part, I'm not worried, for now. Miss K's dad idolizes her, and in return Miss K loves her dad. For 4 years now he has fought long and hard to make sure he has a relationship with his daughter, and one day I will make sure she knows how hard he fought. Especially since every day at work I see the dads who won't fight. Who give up at the first stumbling block the mother throws at them, and I can't help but see them as weak for giving up. (To be fair, I try my hardest not to throw stumbling blocks at Miss K's dad, so I've never seen exactly what his breaking point is. For all I know it could be incredibly easy to get him to give up, but I'm not willing to find out.)
But it's not just Miss K's dad who I turn to for help in raising my child. We only see him once every two weeks, and that's too long for a little girl to go without positive male role models. Luckily for me, I am surrounded by men who love my daughter dearly, and would move heaven and earth for her. My big sister's husband has become a surrogate father for Miss K, especially since she spends three afternoons a week at his house while I'm at work. To watch those two play together warms my heart greatly. He can match her rough and tumble style of playing perfectly, and he always has her roaring with laughter. The adoration those two have for each other is so easy to see by the way their faces light up when they see each other. She gets just as excited to see him at the end of the day as his own kids do.
Then there's my little brother, who is just as devoted to Miss K, and another man she adores. He gets her quirky sense of humor, and he'll do anything to make her laugh. Then there's my best friend, who I've known for years and years now. He's a single dad with a daughter of his own, and I used to watch him interact with his little girl during his access visits, so I never had any hesitation in making him a part of Miss K's life, and she holds a special place in his heart too. Then there's my baby brother and his partner, both who can only visit from Melbourne occasionally, but when they do it's always a huge occasion for Miss K. There's also my own dad, who loves babies above everything else, so the little ones in our family always get special treatment. Dad knows Miss K desperately wants a pink car, so when we went to visit him at the car yard he works at last week, he made a special point to take us down the lot to a tiny pink car they have for sale, just so Miss K could have a play with it. My baby sister Kim's boyfriend is the blokiest guy I know, yet even he can't resist Miss K's charm, so anytime he and Kim come to visit she drags him off to play with her. It's adorable to watch this taciturn macho guy acting so awkward and timid in the presence of a 4 year old hell-cat.
After looking at all of this evidence, I've had to surmise that I cannot be a man hater. If I was, I wouldn't let any of these men have any kind of meaningful relationship with my daughter. I certainly wouldn't see any of them with the sense of reverence I do when I watch them play with Miss K. And I wouldn't recognize how important all of them are to Miss K and in turn to me. It takes a village to raise a child, and surrounded by the village that is my friends and family, I know that Miss K is well taken care of, and is learning to respect herself, love herself, and expect others to treat her in a certain way. And at the end of the day, that's all I can ask for. I am however a terrible drunk, so the lesson here is don't drunk dial your exes. It may cause you to have to do some horrible soul searching.
Peace out peeps.