I look into my daughter's eyes and see complete trust there. She has whole-heartedly placed her life in my hands. She believes in my ability to keep her safe, guide her path, and forge her future.
I'm afraid I'll let her down.
I think back to the times in my life when I made the wrong choice, said the wrong thing, or chose the wrong path and I fear that I might do that with her. Not on purpose, of course, but maybe out of ignorance for alternatives or over-cautiousness.
I'm afraid my fear of failure will cause my failure.
I want so much for her. I want her to live on her own terms, to love as fully as possible and to be loved in return. I want her to know independence, confidence and pride. I want her to own a house, drive a car, have a fulfilling job, date (no, really), and be her own woman.
I'm afraid that, years from now, I'll look back and think "If only I did more, worked harder, fought more valiantly, she might be better off..."
Occasionally, I will see her as she sees herself. In her mirror, there is a beautiful, confident, funny girl who is afraid of nothing. She can talk to horses and make flowers grow. She is the reason we are all here on this planet and we are fortunate to know her. OK, see that every time I look at her, but I see so much more. I see the struggle, the frustration, the pain. I see the other children avoiding her, the other parents shunning her, and I see her missing a portion of happiness because of it. I see what she doesn't know because I shelter her from it.
I'm afraid I do too much, not enough, and never the right way.
I'm afraid she will one day regret that I am her father.
I know these fears aren't founded in reality, nor are they derived from harmful actions of a challenging childhood. No, these fears are the balance. The drive me to always keep trying, to always look for more. I will not allow myself to become complacent, but these fears keep me going even on my laziest of days.
She is my Princess. I am her Champion. I am afraid of the Dragon on the hill, but I draw my sword in spite of my fear. It is said that being brave is taking action even when you're afraid.
I am afraid. C'mon, Dragon, do your worst...