Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I vividly remember the first time a man ever gave me flowers. He greeted me asking how my day was and held my hand as we walked to the car, where waiting for me were the most beautiful dozen pink roses I had ever seen. It was my birthday, and I never felt more special — I should also add I was only about 7 years old and the roses were from my daddy.

As far back as I can remember my daddy and I had a special bond different from the one I shared with my mom. Mom was good for shopping, cooking and all those other “girly things,” but dad was the one who took me camping with my Indian Princess tribe and to ride the roller coasters at the fair. It’s not that mom wasn’t fun, it’s that daddy was the kid at heart. Growing up in Louisiana, many children know what it’s like to have a father working in the oil and gas industry, taking them away from home for periods of time. This lifestyle becomes normal to these kids. My dad worked the seven and seven shift for Chevron in an era before texting and Skype, a time when we looked forward to the nightly phone call from him while he was away working. On the day of his return, we always greeted him by running down the driveway to jump up in his arms.

kari dad

Helping my dad celebrate his birthday shortly after I turned one year old

His time away allowed my sister and me time alone with mom, and when he was home we planned activities for just daddy and daughters or would pack up the car and take a family trip. I think his absence may have actually helped our relationship more than if he would have been home daily. Being gone allowed me to appreciate his presence more.

I cherished our time together — we would build Lincoln Log cabins and play board games while my mom cooked, and if it was a good day, we played Barbies. Not too many girls out there can say their dad voluntarily played Barbies with them, but although it seems strange, it was more about him knowing it was one of my favorite playtime activities. He didn’t try to make his hobbies my own; rather, he took interest in the things I liked to do. It’s important for dads to show their softer side to their daughters — it makes them approachable, and we learn they can be just as good at giving hugs or fixing ponytails as a moms.

It’s also prepared me to handle raising my own daughter in a similar environment. We, too, are an oil and gas family with a daddy who travels. I already see the daddy-daughter bond growing into a thing of beauty. From the smile on Stella’s face when he surprises her after pre-school to the sight of the two of them playing trains together, it warms my heart knowing she is learning how to have a relationship with him that will bring memories for years to come.

May he be the first man to give her flowers and make her feel like the most special girl in the world.

Lifestyle Writer Kari Walker has a 3-year-old daughter, Stella. When she’s not photographing her food or twerking, she loves CrossFit, running, travel and hashtags.

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