Daddies and Daughters (and Heartbreak)

I’ve had my heart broken, my world shattered, my dreams extinguished in the blink of an eye. I’ve felt the hollowness of failure; the lung-gripping stranglehold at the realization that everything of which I was sure turned out to be false. It was the worse feeling in my life, and it was a pain I thought never could be surpassed.

I was wrong.

It’s become very apparent to me that as my daughter continues to grow-up and mature into a young adult, as she continues to scream for independence and long for adulthood, my place in her life continues to diminish. With every shrug of the shoulders and with every roll of her eyes, the chasm between us grows greater.

“I don’t need you. You’re so boring. I’m so embarrassed. You’re not funny (or interesting or .. whatever).” She doesn’t say these words, but she doesn’t have to. My daughter’s eyes and body language yell it for her.

There was a time when the hugs were never-ending. The smiles were iridescent. The look in her eyes was one of love and wonderment and joy. I am sure she still feels those emotions, but not as a result of seeing or being with me. Now it’s celebrity crushes and her life on Instagram. It’s hanging out with her friends and shopping for clothes that leave me questioning whether they’re appropriate or I’m just an old man with dated sensibilities.

And she’s only thirteen.

Like a truck rolling downhill without breaks, the void between me and the little woman that used to be my baby girl will continue to gain momentum. Whereas now I’m a footnote to her daily life, over the next six to ten years, I think I’ll be lucky to be a mere afterthought.

She continues to take in new experiences. She continues to view life through the evolving eyes of an adolescent that can see womanhood far off in the horizon. She continues to grow, her once tiny hands now too big for me to maintain being wrapped around her finger.

And as for me, I thought I knew what heartbreak felt like. As usual, I was wrong.

I know the correct thing to do is to give her the freedom and independence she so desperately craves, still maintaining boundaries and being there to course-correct as needed. But I must allow her to navigate these new waters on her own, a direction having been provided by the previous thirteen years of parenting, but now with her hands at the helm and not mine.

Somewhere in my heart I know that in time my daughter will once again incorporate me into her day-to-day. That’s the way it happens, right? We rebel. We know better. We live life, only to realize our parents were right all along. That’s how it happened for me at least, and I know I still struggle with having the type of relationship with my mom I can only assume she wanted to have with me from the beginning.

So here I sit, a tear in my eye and a heaviness in my heart, as I force myself to learn to let go of that little girl that was, and stand in the background for the young woman that is. I sit here with my heart broken …. broken by the one person who captured it from the very second she was born.

And such is Fatherhood.

10 thoughts on “Daddies and Daughters (and Heartbreak)

    1. Thank you, Renee. I know that I can lean on you and Mark for expertise in raising daughters. I see the relationship you have with your girls, and I know there are many wonderful memories yet to come. It’s just that being more ‘hands-off’ with Natalie right now is so much easier said than done.

  1. You have written a wonderful Dad’s day post. If you want to meet for a coffee, let me know. As the Dad of two daughters, your writing touches my heart this morning because what you have shared is true. One of our favorite Dad/Daughter days was (and continues to be) at trip to the Ellenton outlet mall followed by fine dining at Cracker Barrel one exit south of there. Those trips helped me “see” the process and gave us time to talk and be together…they still do. I will be praying for the heaviness in your heart today to be lifted and for that tear to be one of joy…as God assures you of your wonderful place in her life. Thank you for writing.

    1. Thank you, Rick, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my post. I look forward to a wonderful relationship with my daughter as she continues to grow up. I just seem to have a tough time with coming to grips of letting her lead her own life with me in the background. I have some wonderful experiences of Daddy/Daughter dates with Natalie, and I am sure there will be more to come. Unfortunately, I feel it will be when ‘she has time for me’. 🙂

  2. 1) You made me cry. 2) She’ll be Daddy’s baby girl forever 3) She’ll be back to you in her late 20’s early 30’s! My kids are 33, 30 and 26 and I just had a very joyous weekend with all of their kids plus a few extra!! Much love to you!

    1. Thank you so much, Regina. I know that in the long run, she’ll never be too far away. It’s just the realization that I have to let go now is still hard for me to accept. Thank you so much for reading.

  3. Hey there Gil!

    What a nicely written piece. As I was reading it, I instantly saw both sides of the story.
    A little piece of encouragement: for a couple of years I wanted nothing to do with my dad, and I made that very clear to him that I was “way too cool for him.” Fast forward to now, and we have an amazing relationship that is stronger than I could have imagined. It’s really great to be able to have an adult relationship with my dad, where we can talk about REAL struggles, happiness, and life in general.
    Continue to be the funny (or not so funny in your daughters mind right now), supporting, and loving dad you are and she’ll come around.. it might take a year.. or until she goes off to college. But she will come around. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Christina. It’s wonderful to get the perspective of someone who has recently lived the experience with her father (and what an awesome father you have). I know that in the long run things will be fine, but adjusting to the near-term changes have been brutal for me. Still, to hear your words from your POV is re-assuring.

  4. Having two granddaughters, ages 19 (USF sophomore) and 17 (high school senior), that we have loved from before we laid eyes on them, I can so relate. The teen years are very busy, and especially for girls, as they learn to maneuver through social circles, boy-girl friendships and trying to fit in, feel beautiful, find their passion, etc. Hang in there and don’t ever stop giving bear hugs. The feel of your strong and supportive arms will see her through for a lifetime. You’ve given her a good foundation and she will not disappoint you. Prayer is required, obviously. Stay the course – she’ll always return to home.

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