I may be an anomaly as a dad, but I hate when my daughters move into seasons where they are preoccupied, distracted, non-affectionate, and busy with life. It's not like I can't relate, but still.
I've noticed lately when I reach out to give a hug, they are on the way to doing something, so they roll their eyes and give an obligatory--stiff--hug (but I can tell it's not 'all in') and move on. Or it's something like, "Dad, I will in a bit, I have homework." They are rushed in their minds and don't seem to have the free time to just sit and chill.
We haven't had Daddy-Daughter dates for several months because of practices, games, homework, not to mention tight finances. This is something we've enjoyed their whole life and for some reason this season is just squeezing it out of the schedule. A lot of it is in my head, but it affects me to not feel close to them. I hate feeling like the gap is widening between us...I don't know if I'm doing something to cause it or doing near enough to stop it. I don't want to overreact and push them away and I don't want to underreact and let them drift away. I've worked so hard all these years to keep close to their hearts, it feels like such a waste to let it all play out as it will from here on. I don't know.
I know the teen years are tough, and despite a parent's best efforts of setting up life to be filled with cherished times of closeness, often times our adolescent children want to be with friends, by themselves, or watching television instead of connecting with their parents. I get it, I was there...but something about it is so hard to accept. Again, I wonder if just accepting it is the problem...do you fight it? Do you say, "over my dead body"...or is that very posture that pushes them away. They can sense codependency and it's my belief they run for the hills if they pick up on it. They don't want our mood to be connected to their good or bad day. Enough stuff in their life is ungrounded, the last thing they need is waffling and wavering parents who base their quality of life on the basis of their child's performance.
Our bed times haven't been all that meaningful lately either. I'll climb in bed with them (some nights not even that if they did homework till the wee hours of the night) and I feel like everything is rushed and routine. Like they don't want to talk, laugh, chill, let alone snuggle. Again, this is a new trend. I don't think it's because they don't want to, I just think life is so busy and their minds are so busy that they just don't know how calculated they've become. Life has little to no room for spontaneous conversation and connection....or so it seems. I will ask questions and they give one word answers as if to say, "Dad, I'm tired. I don't want to talk. Just give me a kiss and get it over with." I leave the room after saying, "Good night. Love you." and I just feel less than ok with this exchange night after night.
Last night it felt like they all wanted to talk a little more and reached out and initiated hugs and connection...(I think Heidi might have talked to them about my feelings that they were brushing me off...I don't know...but even if she did, that feels codependent and weird). Either way, it felt good to feel that they wanted to linger in a moment longer then 25 seconds.
I feel for their schedules and the demands on their lives these days. There's a lot of pressure to being a kid in this age. They are doing a great job handling it all, but I long for the simpler days...the olden days of free nights and free time. Every moment seems to be filled with carting one here and another one there. It's part of the teen years....but I don't like it one bit. I just gotta say that. It doesn't sit with me well.
It's not all on them...I feel like my life is full of pressure and performance reviews as well. It seizes my mind and makes being present a real discipline. They probably can sense that as well. So we'll both have to work on this trend of life crowding out connection. That's not an option for me.
I've invested too many hours into my girls to let the homestretch feel homeless.