I love my dad, and he has always been in my life, but our relationship has never been close.
I’ve never spent that much time alone with my dad. It is a mix of us not having spent much time together when I was growing up because he was working to provide for our family and our personalities being very different. My dad could sit in his room and read all day, whereas I love being with people. We have little in common and neither of us put in the effort. Add in years of us butting heads, and it gives a pretty clear picture as to why we are not very close.
Most of the time we do see each other and spend time together, we never really catch up. I know he’s not super verbal, but because he rarely asked about me I began to wonder how much he cares about what’s going on in my life.
So you can imagine what my thoughts were when I found out my dad would be the one traveling more than ten hours with just me and my kids in a car for my sister’s wedding. I was incredibly thankful he had offered to travel all the way to and from his hometown a couple of states away so I didn’t have to do the drive alone. Yet, the thought of ten uninterrupted hours in a car with my dad was daunting. We’d never spent that much time together like that before. How would it go?
Are we just going to make small talk for as long as possible until the awkward silence sets in? Are we not going to talk at all, and I’m going to have to drive in silence for the full ten hours as he reads his book? Would we get along or would we butt heads again?
All of that was running through my mind as we packed up and got into the car. But as it turns out, the car ride that I had been dreading turned into an amazing opportunity for us to bond.
Here’s what happened. A couple of hours in, he put down his book and asked me:
“So how have you been feeling this pregnancy? I know you’ve been really uncomfortable this pregnancy, has it gotten better?”
This meant the world to me. My dad is not the type of man to reach out like that. I knew he was getting out of his comfort zone, putting down his book that he could have easily read the entire trip, and instead starting a conversation with me.
In the past, when we did talk it was about things he was interested in like the book he was currently reading. When he didn’t always ask me about what was going on with me and my family, I would take it personally. So for him to ask me how I was doing meant the world to me; it showed me how much he cared.
We mostly talked about surface level things like my siblings, their recent vacations, work, health, and family. I know it sounds like such an everyday conversation, but for me and my dad this was a huge step. For us to talk about daily things that we were going through was a whole new level of deep for us. He cares a lot about us, even if he doesn’t always say it.
He made an effort to connect with me, so I did the same. When he started sharing things he was interested in, I listened. In the past, I would not have entertained any conversation that wasn’t about something we both are passionate about. But I realized how selfish that was, especially considering the huge favor he was doing for me. So this time I didn’t want to just shoot him down and stop or change the conversation.
This car ride was the first step in a beautiful direction for my relationship with my dad. Being stuck in a car for hours led to conversations I never thought I would have with him. And the fact that he made the effort showed me that growing that connection was possible.
This experience has taught me that no matter how different I am from someone, if both people try, we can find common ground and build our relationship from there. My dad and I still have leaps and bounds to grow, but we both want that relationship, and that is enough.