When my partner wanted to have a child, I said I was willing to talk about it and would need convincing. She said, "Well I think you'd be a great father, no matter what. But if it is a girl I can imagine the two of you being so completely in love. It would be a lifelong infatuation."
My partner knew which buttons to push.
I knew I'd make a girl. Of course, most of us are probably familiar with the fact that the father partly defines the baby's sex by contributing either a Y chromosome (for boys) or an X (for girls).
But the father's hormones also play a part. It's been observed that a masculine alpha male who has higher levels of testosterone will tend to father female children. Presumably it's nature's way of suiting a child that is more vulnerable with a strong and protective Dad.
I was so sure I'd make a girl that I didn't even bother to pick out a boy's name. And in the morning after we conceived, Lauren told me about the dream she'd that night where we were holding a little baby girl wrapped in a violet shawl.
"It's true, it's true!" I said, jumping up and down with joy. "You're pregnant!"
Nine months later, India was born, on the couch at home, completely drug-free, with no doctors, caught by her grandma. Ever since then, every day of my life has been blissful. In short, she is my heart.
Here are 10 reasons why having a little girl is the greatest joy in my life:
1. I came to understand the special relationship between all girls and their fathers.
There is a saying that goes, A father should be his son's first hero, and his daughters first love... If for whatever reason an individual missed out and there wasn't that bond, then it was not the child's fault and there should have been. Because that bond between father and daughter teaches each woman, each girl, she is special.
Without a father to help show her that she is special, that woman will have to go on a difficult journey of self discovery to realize how lovely she is. All women deserve to know that they are loveable and loved.
2. Having a girl made me look at all women differently.
I saw vulnerability as something that reveals truth. Vulnerability is honesty in its most real and naked form. It is actually a strength because it disarms a male from his false ego. I recognized there is a difference between weakness and vulnerability.
When India is upset, I see that her vulnerability as giving me the opportunity to awaken my compassion and empathy. Some people my just see a child is crying, but a good father sees his daughter as giving him the chance to be loving and kind.
Vulnerability is a feminine way of developing a relationship with the masculine. Vulnerability is actually the opposite of weakness, it is gift for men to allow us to open up and it creates space for us to value what is truly meaningful and precious and protect it. As the saying goes, A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child.
3. All women are precious.
Holding my precious baby in my arms I realised that all women are someone's baby girl. Each woman has a father who either does, did or should feel the same way I do about my baby. So all women are sacred and worthy of protection and being valued by all men. They are our mothers, they are our daughters, they are our sisters. If a man in the past had failed to treat them with respect then that was a reflection of that man. All women are precious like my baby.
4. As a father I started to more fully understand the purpose of my masculine nature.
It is something very difficult to put into words, but you can grasp it when you imagine a father holding his angel and beaming love and protection while she plays freely in that safety. A woman can be free to enjoy her femininity and innocence when she is confident that men are holding the space for her.
5. A woman's happiness is a good benchmark of a man's success.
It is a secret that men may not always admit, but one of the most attractive things a woman can do is smile. To make a woman happy makes a man feel so validated. It is no different with a daughter. To see my baby girl dancing, and hear her sing, and to play together is bliss.
I always want my daughter to know she is loved, and I do that through play and affection—we have tea parties together, I push her on her tricycle, we go on bush walks, we turn on music and dance, we do yoga and AcroYoga, sometimes after exhausting herself with games at the park we lay in the grass in the warm sun and she falls asleep on my chest. If my girl is full of giggles and joyous squeals, then I know I am doing something right.
6. It made me realise that little children love being little children.
Lauren often asks India, "Are you a big girl or a little baby?"
Every time, India answers, "Little baby."
Having a little girl has taught me that the inner child inside us all, loves being a child. For a little girl, there is no rush to grow up and be an adult. In our modern age, we are conditioned to shake off childhood and embrace responsibility as early as possible.
The 'tween' phenomena is starting to look and feel to me that children are losing their innocence too soon. But what if we remembered what it was like to be a sweet child that loved being pure at heart? What's the rush?
Before society ships us off to school for years and years, then shackles us to a job so that we can afford to buy stuff we don't need, maybe we can ride on our Dad's shoulders while we order him to chase the chicken around the backyard. Maybe we can breathe in our innocence and enjoy it long enough before the media and corporations try to steal it away.
7. It has made me here and now.
My arms are never too busy to pick up my child when she wants a cuddle. I have made a decision that quality time is ALL the time. Life is too short to ignore the ones you love. I work on being 100% present when we are together. Simply being there in physical form is not enough. If I were to check my phone when I am playing dolls or reading her a story do you think she wouldn't notice that? They notice everything! And each impression makes a lasting impact.
The earliest phase is developmental psychology is called the imprinting phase. I believe that if my daughter was to see me sneak a look at my phone during story time, she would feel she would be competing for my attention. She might also sense that I am not 100% interested in what I am doing and that is why I'm distracted. And this leads children to feel that they are undeserving of their parents full attention. That would be the last thing I'd want.
So when I am not at work teaching yoga, or she is not asleep, and when we are together, I switch off my phone and don't use the computer or television. This is teaching me how to be 100% present, not only with my baby, but with everyone else too.
8. Your child is yours. That's why you love them.
According to yoga, love for another person is “mineness.” And that's a good thing. I loved my baby before she was born, and even before she was conceived. Because I knew that soul was going to take birth as my baby. It didn't matter that I hadn't met her in this life yet. I loved her because she was mine.
What is love?
According to yoga it's a strong feeling of affection that you get when someone belongs to you and you belong to them. In Yoga this is called mamata. Some people will call this attachment, and they will think of it in a negative way. I find that a pity.
They think love is simply when you wish someone well and have compassion for them. They talk about detachment and remaining dispassionate. Personally, I think that is flimsy and cold. If I imagine being like that towards my child I feel like puking. To really get close to someone you need to melt your sense of separateness. It is an ongoing tango, constantly moving your boundaries beyond what is safe and easy. This playful dance is much more interesting and engages me spiritually than sitting back and serenely smiling without any real significance.
I definitely agree with yoga philosophy that when I say My angel. My love. My sweetness. Myheart. My child. That I am expressing the natural sentiments of a healthy parent towards their child.
And as for those monks who sat in monasteries thinking up impractical philosophies that one should remain detached and passionless, and that mineness is a function of the ego, etc, etc.... Who cares what they think?!
Certainly not me!
I know through my own experience that the feeling of love that is "mineness" arises naturally and spontaneously. It is the basis of a blissful parent-child relationship, of which no one and no thing can mediate. It is a direct connection.
I am your Dad. I am all yours. You have my heart.
9. No work, no occupation can compare to the level of commitment involved in Motherhood.
Moms are amazing. There's a saying by Henry Ward Beecher, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
I keep a deep appreciation of the hard work and amazing job that Lauren does. The mutual love and respect of my relationship with Lauren certainly effects my relationship with my baby. She sees us relating to each other and she is learning how a woman treats a man, and how a man treats a woman.
Our relationship not perfect. But we keep awareness of the fact that how we choose to relate to each other impacts on India and her future. It makes me very happy to wake up in the morning with our baby in the bed and joke and wrestle and laugh together. The sound of my family's laughter is the perfect soundtrack to start the day.
Recently I was very proud when Lauren started her own online children's clothing and accessories store. To see photos of our beautiful child who is modelling some of the clothes click here.
10. I get so many cuddles and kisses from my baby and her Mamma.
The act of cuddling and kissing releases masses of oxytocin, a "love hormone" that helps bonding. Studies have shown that fathers with high oxcytocin levels are more likely to encourage their children to explore during playtime.
Hormones like these make you more trusting and give you a natural high that makes you feel a little bit love crazy. When I am out at work, I often think about my child and how much I adore her and miss her.
It reminds me of a saying by Lisa T. Shepherd, “In raising children I have lost my mind but found my soul.”
I have found that love is a miracle drug.