I’ve grappled with my relationship with my daughter.
I love her unconditionally.
However, the first 7 years of my relationship with her are a blur.
Mental illness and an unhappy marriage with her mother made it impossible for me to be as mentally present as I wanted to be.
Coupled with my own self-esteem issues rooted in a traumatic and unloving past, I struggled with fatherhood, despite an unlimited reservoir of love that was exclusively reserved for my daughter.
I bring all of this baggage to my relationship with my daughter. It’s unfair and it acts as a barrier to intimacy.
I need to resolve my issues and I need to do so fast. My daughter is growing up fast and with each passing day, my sense of urgency grows.
I want to find ways to get closer to her. I’ve had this desire for the entirety of my daughter’s life, and I’ve struggled to find more ways to bond with her.
If you want a different result, then try something different innit?
My daughter loves gaming and I’ve tried to tap into this by buying her a SNES complete with games such as Super Mario Kart, Streetfighter 2 Turbo, Zelda, and all the classics from the 90s. It worked for a while, but she didn’t connect with it the way I’d wished. Not the plot twist I was expecting, but I decided to pivot. Over the following months, I noticed my daughter and my niece regularly play a game called Roblox on the Internet on their iPads.
I decided that a good way to bond with my daughter was to ask her if she would let me play this game with her and my niece. Much to my delight, she was open to it.
Once I downloaded the game, my daughter, my niece, and I logged online, booted up Roblox, and then connected on FaceTime and talked to each other for the duration of our gaming session.
I grew up with Super Mario Bros and Streetfighter 2 Turbo. I couldn’t wrap my head around the games my daughter enjoys and Roblox was no exception. I couldn’t play this game at all; I was rubbish at it. Inept.
The whole experience of trying to play Roblox was humbling. My ego took a battering.
But in a strange way, I loved this experience. I got to spend time in my daughter’s (online) world. She took the time to patiently help me navigate the controls of the game and figure out what I was doing. She loved every moment of it, and we engaged with each other. This Saturday afternoon was not what I expected, but the outcome far exceeded my expectations. My heart was full.
Sometimes fatherhood is about just turning up. It’s also about surrender. You have to be willing to meet your daughter on her terms.
I am learning to surrender to love.
It’s also fucking beautiful.