My husband is an engineer. He loves cars. So I thought he would want sons. But he promised me daughters. Smart. And tall.
He pointed at his four nieces, each one leggier, prettier and more accomplished than the next, as proof.
"We only make girls in this family," he said, confidently. I wondered what a guy crazy about automobiles would do with daughters. Cars are for sons.
But two daughters later, he was right: We only make girls in this family. Smart, tall ones who love cars. And their Daddy.
Our daughters cuddle with my husband in his big chair on Saturday nights, watching television shows about expensive automobiles. They kiss Daddy. They say how much they love him. They tell him that when they are grown, they will take him to an auction and buy him his favorite sports car. Fast. And red.
When they were babies, my husband would lie in his chair for hours, our tiny girls curled up like kittens asleep on his big chest. But now at 6 and 9 years old, they are so tall that only Daddy can still carry them upstairs to their rooms on Saturday nights when they fall asleep watching automobile auctions with him.
They call for him at night if they have a bad dream.
"Daddy is my hero," my youngest says softly as he picks her up, rescuing her from the monsters in her closet. She relaxes on his shoulder as he carries her to our room and tucks her gently, carefully into my side of the bed.
And as she closes her eyes in the dark, safe and protected by the first guy who ever loved her, I walk down the hall with my pillow to sleep, alone, in her room.
The next morning, she and her sister come downstairs. Two tall, smart girls rubbing sleepy little eyes while they look for Daddy. They find him sitting in his chair, reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, the only quiet moment of his day. They climb onto his lap, their tangle of endless legs hanging off the chair where babies used to nap on his chest.
He laughs as their clouds of long hair tickle his face. He used to stroke bald newborn heads while they snored in his arms. I see how much he adores his tall, smart girls who love cars. And I wonder how much longer he will be the most important guy in their world.
But, for now, they kiss Daddy, and ask him to make them arepas for breakfast. My husband grew up eating these in Venezuela: cornbread pancakes stuffed with scrambled eggs, ketchup and cheese. He smiles and goes into the kitchen to cook for his daughters. I hear him whistling as the smell of crisply fried masa fills our house.
I am grateful for my husband's strong, warm presence in their lives. As they get older, I hope my daughters appreciate everything he selflessly does for them. I hope they realize how lucky they are to have such a father. And I hope that Daddy is always their hero.
Because soon, too soon, they won't fit on his chair anymore. They won't want to spend Saturday nights watching auto auctions with him. All the toy cars he bought them will be put away somewhere. Forgotten. And eventually, a guy other than Daddy will have their love. But today, for today, there is just him in their hearts.
They only make girls in this family. And for a little longer, there is still room for them on his chair. There is still space for two tall, smart daughters to cuddle with their Daddy and watch car shows. And when his favorite one comes up for sale, they will kiss him, and promise to buy it for him when they are grown.
Someday soon, too soon, when they are the doctor or engineer he always told them they could be, two tall smart girls will take their Daddy to an auction. And buy him the '65 Shelby Cobra fastback he always wanted. A present for the first guy who ever loved them. A candy apple red gift for their hero.
Dawn Golik lives in Fresno with her husband and their two young daughters. Her email is email@example.com.