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For As Long As I Can, I Will Be There When You Need Me: A Dad's Letter To His Daughter On Father's Day
PHOTO BY /JR SANTIAGO
  • In celebration of Father's Day, Smart Parenting is publishing different stories by fathers, for fathers, and in celebration of fathers. Below is a letter of JR Santiago to his daughter as he celebrates his eighth Father's Day. JR is one of Smart Parenting's Dad Squad Influencers and is also founder of online communities for dads. 

    A letter to my daughter on my eighth Father’s Day

    My Darling Zoe,

    Eight years into fatherhood, I still find myself in awe of the fact that I am your Dad. There is not a day that goes by that I am not reminded of how lucky I am to have you as my daughter. 

    From the moment you were born, I knew my life was about to change for the better and I had to do everything I could to be the kind of father you deserve. It has been a great adventure so far and I have loved every minute of it. 

    I wish time would slow down

    And now that you have discovered your voice and you are learning to do more things without me, I find myself nostalgic about those early days of fatherhood. 

    JR often writes letters to his daughter.
    PHOTO BY /JR SANTIAGO
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    There are days when I wish for time to slow down and I long for those moments right after you were born when I would just watch you sleep and when you were completely dependent on me to move around. 

    But as I pray for time to slow down and the phrase “they grow up so fast” rings true, I also pray that as you grow up, and that God would allow me to be the best father you deserve. 

    8 things I want to share on my eighth Father's Day

    Now on my eighth Father’s Day, I just wanted to share eight things with you:

    1. It's my privilege to be your Dad.

    I thank God for each day that He gives me the privilege of being your Dad. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever and I am thankful that you always remind me of what's really important in life—family. 

    I am also grateful that you made me realize that I am not only a provider, I am also a parent.

    I am also very thankful because you give us so much joy and happiness amidst a world that can feel so heavy sometimes. On our worst days, a hug from you can help drive the day’s burdens away.

    2. You inspire me to be a better husband and father.

    I am thankful that you look up to me and inspire me to be a better husband and father—the two most important missions of my life. 

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    You inspire me to strive to be better every single day because I know you deserve nothing less than my best.

    'Fatherhood has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever.

    I am also grateful that you make your Mom and I feel that we are enough and that we are doing something right. 

    Our hearts are filled with hope because we know you are a better version of us and we know you can conquer the world. 

    But I also want to tell you that your Mom and I will fail you sometimes. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes and we will do things that will disappoint you and we hope that when that happens, you will find the courage to call us out and remind us to do better.

    RELATED: 'I Don’t Want To Fall Into The Trap Of Being An Awesome Dad Yet A Lousy Husband'

    3. I am proud of you.

    My heart is filled with pride because as we witness you growing up as a kind, loving, and generous person, you remind us that kindness, generosity, and love are what really matter. 

    And when I hear about how you take care of your classmates and friends, it makes me feel even more proud of you.

    4. I don't wish to give you everything.

    I no longer wish that I be able to give you everything. It's now my wish that you get to know and have everything that matters in life. 

    But I also want to tell you that life will be unfair sometimes and you will get hurt and there is nothing I can do to stop those things from happening. 

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    'Our hearts are filled with hope because we know you are a better version of us and we know you can conquer the world.

    What I can promise you though is that for as long as we can, we will be there for you to hold your hand and we will always be there to catch you when you fall.

    But don’t let those failures or speed bumps stop you from trying to make this world a better place and never be afraid to challenge the status quo.

    RELATED: First-Time Dad at 40: Being a Father Was Worth the Wait

    5. Get ready for me to ask you for longer and tighter hugs. 

    As you grow older, I know hugs will have an expiration date so I plan to maximize them while I can. 

    And although it’s killing my back, I will still try to carry you for as long as I can because I know that has an expiration date, too. 

    "Be patient with me when I hug you a little tighter each time" because I know your hugs have an expiration date.
    PHOTO BY /JR SANTIAGO
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    So be patient with me when I am a little more clingy. And be patient with me when I just want to spend a little more time with you.

    One day I will be ready to slowly let go but in the meantime, please indulge your old man.

    6. You make us laugh.

    Thank you for always making us laugh with all your silliness. You have taught me that life is too short to always be taken seriously. 

    You make me so happy because of your laugh, your silly jokes, and the happiness you give to others and I wish you will continue to share that joy every chance you get because the world needs it so badly these days. 

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    7. Please know that there is much joy in serving others.

    In my stint as a public servant, it was always my dream to be able to tell you one day that being part of something greater than yourself and being able to serve the country you love can be a very fulfilling experience. 

    Now, I can tell you that I did my best to be the best leader I could be for our country and of course for you. 

    I hope that when it is your turn to pick the leaders of your generation, you will always pick those who are servant leaders and whose hearts are with those that need the most help. 

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    And if you decide to also go into public service, give it your best, and may you find much joy in serving others.

    "For as long as I can, I will be there to catch you when you fall."
    PHOTO BY /JR SANTIAGO

    8. Lastly, I am thankful that you have made me feel a kind of love I never knew existed.

    You made me realize that my heart could exist outside of my body. 

    Thank you for your love; It has made me feel God’s love, it has taught me about unconditional love, and it has made me feel that I am worthy of receiving love, too.

    This Father’s Day, it is my wish that God will continue to remind me and give me the chance to appreciate and live every present moment with you. 

    To enjoy every smile, every laugh, every kiss, and every hug from you, and to be there for you each time you’re sad, each time you cry, and each time you get hurt. And to be there, every time you need me.

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    With all the love I can give,

    Daddy 

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