The one about the good guys.
On the rare occasions I would imagine my future children, I always imagined I'd have sons. I don't know why - maybe it's because I have younger brothers and so boy babies are familiar to me. But, as luck would have it, I had a sweet baby girl and now I find myself the mother of a daughter.
There are many terrifying things about raising a girl in a post-truth world - but I'll leave them for another story. My girl will spend her life surrounded by strong women who will build her up and keep her strong and safe. But she will also spend her life surrounded by men - good, solid, real men who will shape her just as much as her tribe of ladies.
The first, and most obvious of these men is her father - my rock of a husband. He’s as decent a person as they come. When we met he was on the cusp of making some big changes in his life - and in the years between our first drunken pash and our girl’s arrival, he’s kicked more goals than there are nets to kick them into. Despite leaning towards the anxious end of the spectrum he’s one of the most calming influences I have in my life - never before have I had someone to whom I could so freely express my fears, and he follows me into the darkness, from which I cannot often ascend and leads me back to our stable, happy life. He will adore his girl beyond measure, and look at her like the unicorn she isn’t but will always feel in his presence.
I know a little bit about this kind of special bond - having one person in the world who looks at you like a precious blood diamond. My father looks at me like that every day - even though we now live together again and I owe him a Trump sized whole lot of money. My girl sleeps more soundly in his arms than anywhere else and she invokes a joy in him I’ve never seen before. And I’m literally his favourite person on earth so that’s saying something.
My father in law, my girl’s other grandfather is the kind of man you want around in a crisis. Softly spoken and widely read he looks at her in a way I couldn’t have imagined prior to witnessing it. He lights up in her presence and I know that should she want the world from him, all she need do is ask.
We have also gifted her four warm and cuddly uncles - each more “special” than the last. They are the siblings who have watched us awkwardly fumble through life up until this point, and now they have the pleasure of watching us work out how to parent. They will have the joy of teaching her the things we cannot, feeding her the things we won’t and regaling her with tall tales of her parents misspent youths. We owe so much of our childhood happiness to these four men and have no doubt that our girl will owe them the same.
It’s a difficult world to discuss the role of men in a girl or woman’s life. Wherever you turn is fraught with danger. These men are not heroes or saints - I have no doubt they have sinned and wronged and hurt along the way. But they are open and warm and loving - they accept change and challenge and stand up when the world is falling down around them. My girl will never want for their love or attention and they will teach her what some of them taught me - the worth of a good person, the immeasurable support unconditional love gives a person and how to judge the quality of a red wine.