Reflections on Father’s Day: 2021 Edition

January 2017 I had a mental breakdown at 3am in my car.

I was dropping a friend off so she witnessed my meltdown.

I proceeded to list reasons why I was sobbing and couldn’t string together a sentence.

I won’t bore you with the list. Plus a lot of that shit isn’t mine to share.

My friend called bullshit on it all.

“You’re not loved,” she said.

I asked her what she meant.

“Your home life, it isn’t right.”

I had a moment of clarity.

I was in a terrible marriage.

I tried to avoid eye contact with my friend. She didn’t let me hide.

I was in an unloving marriage. That shit will kill your spirit.

It was choking mine. That became apparent to me in that moment.

But, I was hesitant to let the truth wash over me like a baptism.

My friend asked me what was holding me back. There was clearly a block. I wasn’t convinced I could be a father unless I lived under the same roof as my daughter.

I’m so glad my friend challenged me on this.

I’m of Pakistani origin and was raised in a very patriarchal family. I grew up believing that there was only one way I could be a father. And that was to live with my daughter.

I had to shift that thinking in order to file for a divorce and start my life over.

In my culture the belief is that you sacrifice yourself for your children. I am the by produce of this thinking.

May I be frank?

I grew up in a miserable home. Money wasn’t an issue, but it was miserable.

Breaking the cycle. That’s all I could fixate on.

I approached things differently. If I could become the best version of myself, I could become a better father.

If I can set a better example, then my daughter will benefit.

Mindset wise, this was a major adjustment for me.

I’m writing this 11 months since I saw my daughter off at Heathrow Airport. She moved to Dubai with her mother and a global pandemic has gotten in the way of us travelling to see each other.

But, I couldn’t ask for a relationship with my daughter. She’s felt comfortable coming out of the closet to me. I called her on Father’s Day and she greeted me with:

“My guy, how are you?”

I cracked up.

Last year she made me an animation for my birthday. This year for Father’s Day she made me two Star Wars themed hand drawn illustrated Father’s Day cards.

I love hearing her talk about her desire for racial justice and LGBTQ rights.

I love witnessing her passion for saving the environment.

I love giving her space to be herself.

I love letting her explore her thoughts in conversation with me.

I love her.

1 thought on “Reflections on Father’s Day: 2021 Edition”

  1. You’ve come a long way since that moment in the car. I’m proud of you mate.

    Your daughter sounds amazing. Despite the distance (for now) it sounds like you have a really special bond. Pure love.

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