Being a dad is hard enough. Being a dad to a 13-year-old daughter who blames you for divorcing her mom without understanding the entire situation? That’s a completely different level of difficulty.
My daughter Lauryn and I are not seeing eye to eye right now. Adding the COVID social distancing definitely has not helped, but I’m trying to show my daughter just how much I love her. Over the last few weeks, I’ve made three trips up to Lancaster to try and communicate with her – she knows about all three visits, and this past Saturday I actually got to see her for 15 whole seconds. She opened the front door, saw it was me, and closed it again.
In the past, I used to beat myself up for being a “horrible dad” because I wasn’t in Lauryn’s life every day (and my ex using that to negatively alter Lauryn’s perception). But during this time I called every night, leaving a voicemail more often than not, and driving up either every weekend or every other weekend, so that she didn’t have to live out of a suitcase. We had a big disagreement almost two years ago, because she doesn’t yet understand or see the big picture, and her loyalty is to her mom right now.
After she saw me and closed the door on Saturday, it would’ve been very easy for me to “shut down” and start blaming myself for everything. For some (good) reason, this didn’t happen – I was focused on two things….first of all, I couldn’t believe how much taller Lauryn was since I’d last seen her! It was shocking to see her so grown up. The other thing which instantly crossed my mind was that she knew that I again made the effort to communicate with her, and that I considered that a HUGE WIN, because my actions spoke much louder than my words.
I continue to send her quick little letters in the mail every week, and I’ll continue to drive up and knock on the door, whether she answers the door or not. That’s why I consider myself the “Father of the Minute”, because I’m still trying to find quick and simple ways for her to know just how much I will ALWAYS love her. My goal is to go from a minute to an hour, an hour to a day, and just keep building from there.
There are a lot of things that Lauryn will need to figure out on her own, as unfortunately, the people around her are telling her what she wants to hear, and not what she needs to know. If I push too hard right now, that will only create more distance between us. That’s why this entire process is a marathon and not a sprint. Lauryn and I will find our way back to each other, as she’ll know that I’ll always be there for her.
We’ll get there….one minute at a time.