She asked me if she could just talk to him one more time.
I hesitated, wondering how to approach this latest landmine. I’ve always wanted her to be able to choose, to exercise her freedom, to assert herself and to be as big, bold and brave as she needed to be.
I wondered what could happen if she did.
Would she talk to him and feel better, skipping off to school with air in her step and love in her heart?
Would she feel her heart shatter again as she hung up, wondering why her daddy doesn’t love her anymore?
Would I spend another three years picking up the pieces he left behind?
As fate would have it, I received a call from an unlikely friend and ally. She is also the mother of a “fatherless daughter” who, at age 14, is asking the same questions. We spoke and grieved together for our daughters, who have not yet experienced the unconditional love of a man who places them before everything—even himself.
My friend, who has also known her share of pain and abandonment, reminded me of the deepest truth: a fatherless daughter must not seek out the love of her father. Should she do so, she will set herself up for a lifetime of doing the same. What will she learn about men if she seeks him out? Will she learn that she is responsible for the seeking? Will she learn that love is optional, her presence conditional? Will she learn that she ought to chase after the scraps of love that come from the limited offering of a man who has yet to figure out her value?
I am also a fatherless daughter; my early years lost to a father who first needed to slay his own demons before he could show up for me. It set me on a path of thinking that if only I had been enough he wouldn’t have left. Indeed, it is likely why I chose her father as a partner.
It took me years to realize that my father’s choices had nothing to do with me. I hope to write a different story for her.
To my own fatherless daughter and to the others out there—
It is not, and has never been about you. You are worthy of love. You are deserving of love. You need not perform, chase or show up as anything other than you are for the right man to love you. You need not sell yourself short, become good enough or pursue any man’s affection.
Tomorrow, I will offer my daughter a journal in which she can write all the thoughts she has; should she decide to share it with him someday, she will be able to do so. My hope for her is that regardless of what she chooses, she will know that she has always been enough and will always be worth the biggest, craziest love someone has to offer.
She will never have to become anything other than the amazing, beautiful girl she has always been to capture the love of a man.
Even her father.
Especially her father.
Author: Lisa Vallejos
Editor: Toby Israel