How Being Apart From My Dad During Quarantine Has Strengthened Our Bond

Maria G. Valdez
Maria G. Valdez

When social distancing was enforced, I frantically called my dad to figure out what to do. Calling him when faced with an important life decision is something I always do, and it's my way of including him in my life as much as I can, even when we live 1,560 miles apart.

My dad, as the overly cautious man he is, told me to stay put. At the time, we didn't know if lockdown would mean two weeks or two months, and all countries were operating on different timelines, so if I traveled to Dominican Republic to isolate with my parents, there was no way of knowing how long I'd stay there. What if NYC reopened and I was called back into my office, he worried, but I couldn't go because I was stuck in the DR with airports closed? He didn't want that to happen because not being able to show up at work "would look bad" on me.

That's my dad: always thinking ahead, making sure that whatever the outcome is, his kids are always set up for success. Often in Latinx cultures, we tend to highlight how important our mothers are, but in so many cases our dads are also there too, pushing and encouraging us behind the scenes, working hard to set a good example, and saying the things we need to hear at the right time.

Many Latino dads are so loving, and this is something we don't often see portrayed in popular culture. We often see the outdated machismo stereotype, showing dads that are incapable of expressing their love, when for many of us, every little thing our dads do is a reflection of their love for their children.

Even though my dad told me to stay in NYC during the pandemic, he'd still call every single day. He would ask about my day, about the news, how I was doing, how my dog was doing. Even if it was a two-minute conversation, he'd always make himself present. I checked in on him, too — I'd ask about how he was adapting to working from home, since that was something completely new for him and an area in which I had more experience.

We got comfortable doing video calls, sharing stories and even shows to watch. As we ended our calls, he'd say "no salgas!" ("don't go out!") followed by "y si tienes que salir, usa tu mascarilla" ("if you have to go out, wear your face mask"). While we were already used to the physical distance between us, we always knew when we'd see each other next, which gave us something to look forward to. Not knowing when that would be made us hold onto the little interactions we had virtually, and in a way, it helped strengthen our bond.

This has been a learning and adapting experience for all, yet my dad makes it seem so easy. Whenever we talk it's as if he's discovered something new that day, or he realized he could do something he didn't think was possible. Talking to my dad through this quarantine period has been such a joy. I don't know if he does it on purpose to keep me distracted from everything that's happening in the world, but it makes my day.

He might not be one to say "I love you" all the time, but he sure shows it.

He might not be one to say "I love you" all the time, but he sure shows it. With every single thing he does — from making sure I have a solid work ethic to recommending TV shows on Netflix — he's telling me how much he loves me and cares.

With countries slowly reopening, international flights are starting to take off, and I can finally book a flight to go home for a bit. I might not make it in time to be with him for American Father's Day, but luckily for me, Dominican Father's Day is later in July, and I'm ready to tell him how much I love him in person once more.