I have written many blogs about my daughter and her impact on my life. To be sure, she is very special to me and I take my responsibilities as her father very seriously. A big part of my role is to raise her to be a strong and confident person, who will have the skills and tools necessary to leave the nest when she is ready. I have loved watching her grow up and figure things out, and to see her blossoming into a fine young lady who I am very proud of. However, recently, I have noticed a distinct shift in her personality. Something, much more mature, is emerging in her as she moves towards being a teenager in just a few more months. I think for the first time, I have started to realize how much I miss the relationship that I had with her when she was younger.
As my daughter grows up, in some sense, she leaves versions of herself behind. Not literally of course, but my mind has a tendency to "freeze" periods in my daughter's life in a capsule. If I compare those encapsulated versions of her to who she is now, they are very different. Sometimes when I realize that my daughter has left one of her old selves behind, I find that I am not ready to have that person leave my life. I miss interacting with them and loving them in the way that I did.
I realize that every parent goes through this as their children grow up. For a season, we are the center of their lives. Everything they do revolves around us. Then, one day, we find that things have changed. They have a life outside of us. They have relationships outside of us. If we are not careful, we can feel left behind. We need to make adjustments in our behavior and approach to make the most of who are children are and how they are growing up. We need to make adjustments to have the healthiest possible relationship with our children. While I understand that, I still miss holding my daughter's hand as we walk along, or holding her in my arms, or singing her to sleep with my own repertoire of silly songs. I miss so many things, perhaps because they made me feel more needed, perhaps because they made me feel young and alive. I need to find a way not to be left behind so that I can move forward with everything that I have.