Girl Dad

Lola MagazineGreg Hicks, Lola Shreveport

Girl dad. That’s me. But it hasn’t always been me. In fact, I was 180 degrees away from this life in 2007. I work in a blue-collar industry that’s rough and gritty, I love hunting and fishing, and was once called “a man’s man” by a coworker because of my carefree do what I want when I wanted lifestyle.

Trust me, that lifestyle was good…. but it’s nothing like the life I’ve come to learn since becoming a girl dad.

The key word in that last sentence is everything these days; learn.

See, my life before my two daughters came was strictly instinctual. I’m not sure what it takes to be a lady, but it’s definitely not hard to be a man! Get up, go to work, go to the gym, come home, do it again. It’s that easy.

My parents divorced when I was 6 years old.  My mother knew that I needed my dad and needed his male influence, so she allowed me to stay with him most of my childhood. Through that, I watched my dad sacrifice a lot for my benefit, so the firsthand effort I watched him go through set me on the right path for what it takes to be a good dad.

But there’s a whole other aspect to being a good GIRL dad. That’s where the learning had to happen. And it had to happen fast.

The girl’s mom and I brought our first daughter home in Jan of 2008. Neither of us had any experience with babies. Apparently, we did ok! I didn’t sleep the first night she was home. Thank goodness for Nick At Night and Sanford and Son reruns.

Our second daughter came 18 months later and by then we were seasoned vets at the basics of child rearing. That’s also where the effort my dad showed me was easy to follow. We just had to work together to cover the bases now that we had two under two.

The girl’s mom and I divorced in 2013 and my girl dad life was kicked into four-wheel drive. Everything that happened when they were with me, was my responsibility. I referenced 4-wheel drive for a reason. We went over some rough terrain in those early days. Y’all picture this; a 36-year-old man with two little girls decorating a Christmas tree with no direction at all.  The blind leading the blind if you will.  “Put it there” and “Not so close together” were the only pieces of advice I could give them because I didn’t know.  It was decorated with old secondhand ornaments and had a set of deer antlers on top. It was our first figure it out as we go moment, and it went ok.  The girls acted like it was perfect too. Sometimes I look back and think that maybe they saw the effort I was giving and tried to be a positive light.  I can’t tell you enough how good these two have been to me, even as little girls. And if I’m confessing all my Christmas tree sins…..I still suck at decorating a tree.

I mentally struggled with everything that first year. The divorce hurt me more than most realize and my confidence in being what the girls needed as a dad was always on the forefront of my mind. “Can I do this? I know a little about girls but nothing about these next stages of their life. Can I do this alone?”

This is where my mother really started to show up in my life. A devout Christian, her faith was stronger than anyone I’ve ever known. I remember vividly the conversation we had about my concerns one evening after dinner.

“Greg Hicks don’t you ever give up on these two. Don’t ever question yourself as a daddy. They need you and son, you need them. Just do your best and God will work it out. Your focus as a dad isn’t about you; it’s about them”.  Mother passed away in 2017 and I think about her and that advice all the time.

If I had to write one line about what it takes to be a good girl dad, I’d have to say that’s the #1 thing I’ve learned; It’s not about you; it’s about them.

It’s been tested. It’s been tried. When they would cry for their mom when they were little or when they want to swap a night with me now because of something going on with friends, I remember those words.

It’s not about me; it’s about them.

My ego has taken some huge hits through the years but in the end, I’ve learned to just be patient and let it roll. I’ve also had a lot of help from their mom.  Yep, the woman that I’m divorced from has helped me understand the girls and what they’re going through or moods that they may be in each day.  Even though we aren’t together anymore doesn’t take away from the fact that we still have joint responsibilities.  I’m sure she gets frustrated with me some days and I get frustrated with her too but all that goes to the side to ensure that we’re raising these two the right way.

I’ve done a lot of different things in my life. My day job is a safety supervisor for a division of the largest lumber manufacturer in North America, I’ve moonlighted as an outdoor writer in several popular magazines, I have an outdoor related podcast called “Antlers & Hicks”, and I’ve even started doing voiceover work for ads and commercials.

I quit writing for hunting magazines a few years ago because it was so exhausting telling someone else’s story. I always said that if I ever wrote again, it would be our story.

But there’s one thing that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God put me on earth to be, and that’s a girl dad. I may not be the best at any of those other activities but in my mind, girl dad is the most important job of all.

At the end of the day, I can honestly say that while I’ve been raising and influencing my daughters, they’ve been raising and influencing me at the same time.  They’ve taken a man their mom called “rude, crude, and socially unacceptable” and molded him into someone who’s learning the art of voice tone, picking the right words, and choosing which hills to die on.

When our oldest had a meltdown at 14 years old right as we were walking out the door for our family Christmas because her hair wouldn’t do what she wanted it to do, I didn’t yell.  I didn’t fuss or rush her.  As she sat in the kitchen floor and cried, I gave her a few minutes, got her a glass of water, and a rag to wipe her face.  And just like that she stood up, hugged me, and was ready to go.  My mother’s words rang true.    

So here I am, writing for a publication where I never dreamed, I’d see my name printed.

Penning about a topic that I love so dearly.

My girls and our life.