Here I am, a single 20-year-old. watching all my friends get in relationships. I see them spend hours getting ready for dates, sort through the butterflies in their stomach when they receive a cute text and look like they're walking on air after two-hour phone calls. As happy as I am that they all found people who appreciate them as much as I do, I can't help but be a little envious.
However, I must seem hypocritical because whenever a guy does ask me on a date, or even just wants to get to know me better, I turn him away. I thought there was something wrong with me--was I damaged from previous relationships, was I too busy to have a boyfriend or were my expectations too high? Honestly, those may all have something to do with it, but above all, I blame you, Dad.
1. I blame you because you always wanted to spend time with me, no matter how busy you were.
When I was little, you were Kylie's Kitchen's most loyal customer. It was there you taught me what creme brûlée was. You connected a microphone to the desktop computer so that we could duet to songs from "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin." Now, even when you have piles of work left to do, you never pass up a chance to have a jam session. Even though all I do is sing while you play piano, guitar, drums, and even the harmonica, you make me feel like a star when we perform together.
2. I blame you because you demonstrate sacrifice.
Let's be honest here, dad. You're successful. You're an unbelievably hard worker. You strive to achieve. You're SO GOOD at what you do. You've been recruited by some top-notch companies all over America—but you always mention how family-oriented you are to potential employers. You didn't want to relocate us to another part of the country even if it meant you had to take a pay cut. You did that so that we could know stability. I can't begin to comprehend how much you must care about us to make us one of the biggest deciding factors when it comes to your career.
3. I blame you because you planned fun outings just for us.
Whether we bowl, split a banana split at Dairy Queen, mini golf, or fly to New York City for a weekend, you set aside time for the two of us. That makes me feel incredibly special.
4. I blame you because you're the best dance partner.
You spun me around our kitchen as a kindergartener, asked me to dance at the first wedding reception I attended and took me to daddy-daughter dances. No matter how silly you felt, you were always right there next to me busting a move. You didn't sit down and watch. You didn't wander off to pursue other conversations. You stuck with me.
5. I blame you because you have the best sense of humor.
Oh, the joy of dad jokes, sarcasm, and movie quotes. You sang a song about sugar bugs as I brushed my 4-year-old teeth. You shaped my sense of humor, so I may be a little biased. I'm glad you taught me you can be funny without hurting others or being crude (even though mom gets a little annoyed when our jokes are a bit on the risqué side).
6. I blame you because you taught me about the coolest things in the world.
Thanks to you, I can proudly sing along to "Chicago" songs. I know who Miles Davis is. I know that way back in 1960, four men in Liverpool paved the way for today's boy bands. I know that Queen Amidala was gentle and graceful, but was successful because she was smart. I know that Davy is still in the Navy and probably will be for life. I know that the Wicked Witch of the West was just a misunderstood, limited woman in search of greatness. Other people may find all the things you taught me kind of nerdy, but wouldn't have it any other way.
7. I blame you because you always showed up.
Whether it was my preschool bring-your-dad-to-class day or sorority dad's day, you were right there. The first time I had to sing in front of people, you learned the words to the song and mouthed them from the crowd just in case I forgot. Heck, you flew home from California just to watch me sing as the final act in my high school talent show. You cared that much about me.
8. I blame you because you encouraged me to pursue my passions.
You were the coach of my elementary soccer team (though we quickly found that was NOT a passion of mine). When I got a lead in my high school musical, you were the first person I called. My freshman year of college, you wrapped me in love from 60 miles away when I called you in the middle of the night to tell you I was changing majors. When I apply for internships, you proofread all of my cover letters. You're my biggest fan, Dad, and you always cheer me on.
9. I blame you because you NEVER forgot to tell me goodnight.
When you tucked me into my first big-girl bed, I remember you and mom saying goodnight prayers with me. Right before you turned out the light, you always turned back and said, "I'm glad I got a little girl like you," to which I responded, "I'm glad I got a daddy like you."
Before smartphones were invented, you'd send postcards while on business trips that sported our signature phrase. Then, once I got my own cell phone, I could always count on that "I'm glad I got a little girl like you" text while you were traveling to Cincinnati, St. Louis, Louisville, or somewhere else.
Then, my first night at college, as I was headed to bed, my phone lit up with a text message from you. Sure enough, it said, simply, "I.G.I.G.A.L.G.L.Y."
10. I blame you because you protected me, always reminding me of my worth.
When I was a toddler, you tucked me inside your coat as we walked in the cold.
Before I started school, you warned me that boys would probably, at some point, say or do something that made me uncomfortable. Instead of blaming myself, you told me to come to you with my concerns and you would never blame me. Sure enough, when a boy was calling girls "sexy" and making weird gestures with his body in the cafeteria in second grade, I was embarrassed and ashamed to be a girl. I came home and told you about this incident, and you hugged me, telling me that boys try to act cool by embarrassing girls. You said you didn't know why it had to be that way, but it had nothing to do with anything I did and everything to do with them not thinking.
When I had my heart broken for the first time, I'm pretty sure yours broke right along with it. You saw me as so much more worthy and valued than I felt in those painful moments.
11. I blame you because you are the most forgiving person I know.
Dad, there have been times, especially in my early teens, where I directed my anger from every part of my life toward you. It wasn't fair, and looking back, I'm sure it broke your heart. However, you never once let that come between us. You looked past it to have a relationship with me. You didn't distance yourself from me, and you didn't let me estrange myself from you.
12. I blame you because you aren't afraid to admit when you mess up.
Dad, even though you are the most amazing man I know, there have been times where your humanity has shown. You've messed up, as we all do... and you admitted that. You didn't try to hide it, and you didn't try to make excuses. You apologized, and you worked to make things right. You didn't play the blame game; reversely, you took it upon yourself to fix things. You taught me the importance of faith and redemption.
13. I blame you because you put Jesus at the center of our family.
Family devotions, prayers, and church attendance have always been a core part of our identities. You point us to Jesus in the good times and bad, and I now know that is crucial to a peace-filled life.
14. I blame you because you taught me never to settle.
Because you made me feel so important, you taught me I deserved the world. When I worried about being single and lonely, you taught me to keep my standards high and wait it out. You said it would be worth it.
Maybe I don't have a boyfriend.
Maybe it's because I've been hurt in the past. You still love me, Dad.
Maybe it's because I'm busy. We still have our bi-weekly coffee dates, Dad.
Maybe it's because my expectations are too high. You meet them, Dad.
Thank you, Dad, for reminding me to wait for someone who sees me the way you do.