It was the particular sound of one vehicle that got a little girl’s ears perked up when she lived in the apartments with her Mommy and Daddy. “Daddy’s home!” Pig tails flying and bouncing as she runs toward the front door waiting for the most handsome man in a Navy uniform to walk in the door and scoop up his little girl. The smell of diesel, nicotine, and paperwork while scratching your cheeks on medals on his chest. These warm memories in my mind.
In my almost 40 years of experience I know that nothing can replace a Father. I watch my littles adore their Daddy. If he would eat cow pies so would they. If he used a wire brush to brush his teeth they would beg for one too. Every part of their day is spent trying to be just like him and gain his favor or approval. The boys worship the ground he walks on and the girls all want to be thought beautiful by him.
For little girls growing up there is such an awkward moment that comes between Daddy and her. You’re not quite sure when it happened but suddenly you are too big for Daddy to pick you up and put you on his lap. It’s hard…a little like being rejected. Too young and innocent to understand the universal rules of propriety between men and women…for it is women you have become even though you don’t feel like one.
It is in this moment that a Daddy’s roles transitions. He is the Captain of the vessel given to him by the Maker. He steers her in the direction she needs to go. He keeps her away from troubled ports, guides her through uncertain waters, teaches her how to go through storms, until one day the Captain steers the vessel into a safe harbor.
And the change of command ceremony is held… There are flowers and streamers and champagne as the Captain hands over the helm to the new Captain. And the vessel sails away into the sunset while the former Captain remains at port.
In all the excitement of the moment the vessel is surprised by some choppy moments. Times of grief and sadness in the first year that can’t be understood; shouldn’t every ship with a new Captain be nothing but happy? And, of course, she is happy but sometimes she is very sad and she can never really understand that it is because she misses the first Captain.
This first Captain does something for his vessel that the second Captain can never do. The original Captain has spent his life preparing the vessel for what is to come. He has at times pulled her up into the shipyard to strengthen her sides from inside and out. He made sure the rudders that steer the ship are strong and the anchor is strong enough to do its duty. He has equipped it with radar and sonar to be wise to her surroundings. He has shaped her resolve.
And there are many times in her life when the ship passes by that safe harbor where her first Captain lives… She wants the Captain to be impressed. She wants him to know how much she loves him and thanks him for making her seaworthy. So she unfurls all her flags, puts all hands on deck, polishes the fighting top and serenely sails by hoping the Captain will answer with a friendly report and continue to encourage her to sail well.
This is the power of a Captain… the power of a Daddy… to know that she has his blessing. His blessing gives her the power to sail into harm’s way and have no fear.