My Father's Success in Raising Three

Released in 2004, John Mayer’s song Daughters struck a chord in the hearts of people across the globe. The lyrics are an admonition for fathers to nurture their daughters in childhood to prepare them as they follow a path into womanhood and become the divine feminine representing mothers and lovers.

“Fathers be good to your daughters.  Daughters will love like you do.  Girls become lovers who turn into mothers.  So mothers, be good to your daughters too.”

My father was tasked with raising three daughters. I’m sure my sisters would agree that he did an exceptional job. With his spirit of adventure, we entered into adulthood with an abundance of fun childhood memories; being pulled behind a motor boat on the lake in a wooden toboggan, riding in the back of the pick up truck to the garbage dump to watch the black bears rummage for food, taking us into the bush to go hunting for everything from partridge to moose and eating beans right out of the can. 

My father taught us how to shoot a rifle, drive a stick shift, change a tire, and instilled in us the confidence and knowledge that as women, we could do whatever we set our minds to. We also received lessons in more menial tasks.  About once a month my father would gather all three of us into the bathroom and speak very slowly as he demonstrated how to put the cap back on the toothpaste, how to turn off the light switch, and how to unplug our curling irons as to not burn down the house that was made entirely of cedar and pine. 

We learned lessons on how not to waste expensive resources. If we indulged too long in a hot shower the water could be turned off at any moment, leaving one of us teenager girls screaming in frustration. When the dryer eventually broke down it never got fixed. It had been previously abused to dry a single pair of socks one too many times. 

After a long work week my father would rise early on the weekends to take us to our ringette games. My dad built a corral and a barn with his own two hands and gave us horses, Gay and Ziggy. We learned how to ride, take care of the horses and the dreaded task of cleaning the stalls. My sisters and I woke up before dawn each morning to feed the horses. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I mostly remember the -40 degree mornings of trudging through the snow in our nighties and rubber boots, carrying buckets of water out to the horses. On more than one occasion my sisters and I witnessed the beauty of the northern lights in the pure darkness of the brisk dawn.

My Dad and I in 2021

As we got older my father’s intolerance of the teenage boys that came skulking around increased, saying out loud, “I was once a teenage boy. I know what’s going through their mind. I don’t want them on this property.” As a rifle owner, my dad did not mess around with his direct warnings to the hormone-frenzied boys either. It was pretty effective.

I can only scratch the surface of my father’s success at nurturing his daughters. I recognize I am extremely blessed to have been his daughter, which is why I want to leave each and every one of you with this simple truth;

Regardless if you have your own children or not, the opportunity to cultivate and create memories for children is a gift and a privilege that every single one of us can participate in as adults. We can nurture our boys into responsible noble men. We can nurture our girls into confident self-assured women. 

This is my goal on how I want to contribute to humanity.   

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4 thoughts on “Daughters”

  1. Elaine Bonnell

    Rachel, I am so proud of you and your writing. Too often these thoughts go unsaid. Trust me, I know this touched your dad and left words he’ll treasure. Thanks for sharing. ❤

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