Dan Colasimone just found out he's having another girl and couldn’t be happier.
It dawned on me recently I’m not likely to ever have a son, and that’s OK. I don’t have a biblical craving to continue the male bloodline.
The realisation did provoke some nostalgia though, a melancholy longing for things that have gone.
When you’re a boy your imagination is endlessly stretching into the future, imagining a thousand different ways you’ll live your adult life.
A lot of the time for me those future scenarios involved becoming the next Don Bradman (not achieved) or, more mundanely, meeting and marrying some idealised future wife and having kids of my own (achieved).
When those childhood thoughts floated to my grown-up self spending time with my own kid, going fishing or catching ant lions together, that future kid was always a boy.
Not because I’d made any conscious decision that I wanted a son. I just assumed that’s what I’d get. What the hell did I know about girls?
Now, adult me and my real-life ideal wife have negotiated the number of children we are going to have. My starting offer was four. Hers was two. We settled on two.
Our first, born 18 months ago, is a curly-haired girl. The second is on her way.
I wasn’t disappointed when I found out we were having another girl. But there was that nostalgia that twanged at me me a couple of days later when it I thought about me as a boy, and those dad-son adventures that have now disappeared into the ether like my Bradmanesque cricket career.
The reason that feeling is only a dull yearning, however, and nothing anything approaching pain or regret, is that having a girl is the best.
I don’t mean literally the best, because I’m sure having a boy is amazing fun too, but that having a daughter is all kinds of wonderful and I actually can’t imagine anything better.
Little girls have always known they can do anything but hopefully my daughter’s generation is one of the first where society has truly caught up to the notion.
My daughter is as fearless as any boy — far more courageous than her mum and I are comfortable with. She’s smart and rambunctious and sassy.
I’m not saying every girl is a natural born street fighter like she is, there are plenty who will gravitate to butterflies over bugs.
But Mae is a bug girl and I hope the fading remnants of a misogynistic society is never able to dull that.
“When my girl isn’t being feral and fun, she’s hijacking my heart with her sweetness and infinitely kissable cheeks.”
Footy, dancing, swimming, cricket, dinosaurs, bunnies, building stuff, smashing shit, wearing pretty dresses, playing in the dirt; my daughters can pick and choose whatever parts of life they find most exciting and embrace them with every bit of their moxie.
Or, as Simone de Beauvoir said better: “Every female human being is not necessarily a woman; to be so considered she must share in that mysterious and threatened reality known as femininity”.
“Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the action of others than herself.”
That was written 70 years ago from within the rarefied world of the French bourgeois, but it feels like it’s only in recent generations those shackles of prescribed femininity are being broken – to continued resistance from a dwindling subsection of men.
Hopefully, hopefully, by the time my girls reach adolescence and adulthood, there will be little stopping them living lives of whatever ambit they want, in whatever manner they want.
In short, from a father’s perspective, there’s no drawback whatsoever to having a daughter.
The urge to protect her can be overwhelming, and therein perhaps lies the toughest challenge for the fathers of girls.
While we may eventually lower the barrier around our sons and trust they are strong enough to look after themselves, the hard part is doing the same with our daughters.
Society has taught us they are defenceless, but that’s not the case.
As fathers we will always be hypersensitive to their vulnerabilities but it’s not our job to loom over them or shield them.
We’re here to prepare them as best we can by nurturing their self-worth, then set them free to take on the world for themselves.
When my girl isn’t being feral and fun, she’s hijacking my heart with her sweetness and infinitely kissable cheeks.
She can be as delicate and precious as a frangipani flower and as mad as a march hare, all within the space of about 10 minutes.
It’s bewildering and enchanting to see all the ways her personality can go.
What I’m saying is, you may have a moment of nostalgic introspection when you first find out you are having a girl, and it’s fine to explore those feelings.
But don’t ever think you’re going to miss out on any of the parts of fatherhood you envisioned, because having a daughter will likely be the most fulfilling adventure of your life.
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