Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Keep Holding Me, Daddy. A message for fathers of teenage daughters


Do you remember those sleepless nights when I was a baby? Those nights that you spent rocking me while I cried so that mama could get some sleep. Do you remember how I stretched out my tiny body, kicked my little legs, and arched my back angrily. Fighting you. How you held me tight. Rocking. Humming. Whispering. Caressing. Until, beneath the weight of immense exhaustion, my eyelids finally drifted shut. Still, you held me. Still rocking.

Daddy, I need that from you now. I know you think I'm grown. But you couldn't be more wrong. I have the body and the mind of a teenager, but inside my heart I'm still just an infant. I'm just as scared now as I was when I was brand new to this great big world. Perhaps more so. Because in my short years on this Earth, I've seen too much. I know the pain of a heartache. The sting of failure. The crushing weight of rejection. The sun, although beautiful, illuminates all that's ugly in this world so I lock myself in my bedroom, with my ipod in my ears...my eyes closed, knowing that my heart is still too tender to be able to withstand the ugliness waiting for me when I open them.

Daddy, I'm confused. I'm trying to embrace a world that I'm not quite able to understand. This world of violence, manipulation, and tears is far from the world I dreamed about as a child. The world I still dream about in childish moments. In my naive innocence I believed in a world of simplicity and love. As such, I grew a heart tender enough to nurture daisies and daffodils and all things beautiful. Finding instead, that a heart that delicate is easily pierced by the thorns of reality. The scars are proof that my heart was never made for battle. The innocence has been lost in the suffering. And I find myself in this scary place of not knowing what's real about the world in which reality lives. I'm not sure what I can trust about you (you have, after all let me down a time or two), and what's worse, I'm not even really sure what I can trust about myself (I've let me down too). I know I break your heart with the words that I say sometimes but that's just part of the test: Are you man enough to be my Daddy? Will you stand by me and love me still?

Daddy, I know I haven't been easy to live with. Maybe not even easy to love. But I'm in a scary place right now. I'm still so much a child, but I'm living in a grown-up world. I haven't yet learned to reign in these emotions. These emotions which are larger-than-life because they're rooted in fear and insecurity. The time will come when I figure it all out. The time will come when wisdom will build a barrier to protect my fragile heart. But that wisdom will take time to grow. When it does, that barrier will enable me to love passionately and live peaceably again. My heart will feel safe to be tender within the confines of wisdom and I will return to the baby girl you thought you lost.

In the meantime, Daddy.... please don't stop loving me. Do you remember those sleepless nights when I was a baby? Do you remember how some nights, in exhaustion, you gave up and placed me, writhing, back in my crib. How I wailed in protest at you giving up on me. My displeasure escalating to a whole new level. I am still that baby, Daddy. When I fight you now it's with my heart, not with my body. And when you rock me anyway, it's with your heart, not with your arms. But don't stop rocking. Be a man who's tough enough to be my Daddy. Your arms will be the boundaries I need until, with wisdom, I can build my own. I am safe within the boundaries of your arms. And even if I fight them, I want them there. Just like the baby all those years ago, I may fight you while you're holding me but that doesn't mean that I want you to put me down. Back then, putting me down meant that my cries got harder, louder, longer. They still do today. You can still hear them...if you'll listen with your heart.

I love you, Daddy,

You Teenage Daughter