Last night, I did and when I woke up today, BAM!

Everything was different.

Fathers, if you have daughters, I recommend staying awake and vigilant at all times.

One day, your pretty little girl may be taken from you by another man right from under your nose.  Trust me, it’s true.  It’s happened to me.

Your baby girl will grow up to be a young woman and other men will find her just as beautiful. And if you doze off for even one night’s sleep, you may find her gone into the arms of someone who sings better lullabies, buys her prettier dresses and plays her favorite games all the time.  She’ll be gone for good and you’ll ask yourself “Where did the time go?” “Who is this thief?” “How do I get her back?”

And you’ll be lost without her.

If this happens to you, know you are not alone.

Many of us dads have experienced this before and after we’re done with that first big cry, realizing that life for you and her will be a lot different from now on, you will recover.  It won’t be easy though.

First, don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault for having taken a little nap.  Raising beautiful little girls is hard work.  You’re bound to need a doze now and then.  Those little snoozes however, often become blocks of years. You may wake up and find your baby girl is no longer a baby.  She’s smarter, prettier and a little more independent with each passing nap if you were doing your job right.  You’ll grieve the little losses each time, but that’s normal.

Second, accept your grief.  It’s part of fatherhood. Reframe your loss of your little princess as a graduation. Let her become the Queen she was always meant to become.  It’s what little girls do.  You’ll still be the king in her heart, don’t worry.  Fairy tales are always full of handsome princes and they always end up living happily ever after.  They even come visit your castle again from time to time.

Third, wake up.  Though you were the one who loved her first, if you have done it right, her heart is much bigger and can handle a second.  She will always love you and that will never change.  It’s very natural for her to want to love others. Especially THAT guy you’re calling a thief but who is actually just helping to take over the responsibility of continued care for her.  Face it, you’re old now and you need a little more rest without the worry and that’s perfectly fine and normal.

So fathers, go get some well-deserved sleep now.  Your job is done.

And you’re gonna want to be rested for the celebration to come when you kiss her cheek, hand her off and step out of the way.  You can still dance with her. She’ll be fine.  And who knows, she might even present you with another little prince or princess and you can start over again doing what you did best.

Take my advice.