I don’t like princesses. If I’m being honest, it’s because they’re too much work. All the dressing up and jewelry, it’s just a lot for me to see past – or to wait for. They also tend to be quite the drama queens. Maybe it’s because they’re going to be queens in real life someday, or maybe it’s just because they’ve been handed stuff for the majority of their lives – I’m not really sure. Either way, the combination of energy, drama, and the need for attention doesn’t really do it for me, and in most cases, it’s enough to make me run, but today I’m running towards one.
You see this one is MY princess, and why wouldn’t she be? After all we named her Esther, after the one who became the Queen of Persia, you remember – “for such a time as this.” Well let me tell you THIS is HER time. Four years old and every bit a princess. Sure she likes dress up and jewelry, as you can see from the picture, sure she has demonstrated the tendency to exude drama, often times at a moments notice. She even enjoys getting ALL the attention, most of the time, but that’s not what makes her my princess.
You see exactly 4 years ago today, I held her in my arms for the very first time. I’m not fond of removing my shirt in front of other people, much less a room filled with my aged women who aren’t my wife – but that night I couldn’t get my shirt off fast enough when the nurses told me what was best was skin to skin contact. As I sat down in that chair and held her to my chest for the very first time, every fear I’d ever had about being the dad of a daughter became both real and unimportant. Sure, there was going to be a lot to figure out, and yes, I’d probably have to learn how to braid some hair or apply lip gloss at some point, but it was all going to be worth it. She was mine. My baby, my daughter, my princess.
As I held her there in that dark hospital room in the middle of the night, something amazing happened, she raised her head and looked up at me – with eyes so beautiful they could only belong to a future queen – and I was undone. In that moment I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for this little girl. No girly thing I wouldn’t learn or attend. No movie or song I wouldn’t endure. No door I wouldn’t beat down, no adventure I wouldn’t undertake, no boy I wouldn’t send packing, or worse yet, welcome into my home. Without saying so much as a word, she had taken hold of my heart and her residence was permanent. That moment, is one I will cherish for the rest of my life – just a daddy and his daughter, his princess – from the first time she laid eyes on him.
A lot has changed in 4 years. She’s no longer small in stature or in volume. She plays hard and she loves harder. There are few things in life that bring the stress of hearing your baby girl scream, and fewer still that bring the pure joy that comes from hearing her shriek “DADDY” and run to you when you enter the room. If you’ve met her, you know my Esther can do both. There are no more diapers, nuks, or carseats – and naps are on their way out too. Those are for “babies” and if I ask her she’ll tell me; “Daddy, I’m a big gurl.” She weighs in at “almost too heavy to pick up” and sings and dances instead of cries and crawls. There are SO MANY WORDS that have replaced the quiet of that night we first met, and I love EVERY SINGLE MISPRONOUNCED ONE of them – even if there are times I have to tell her that they can wait for tomorrow. A bed has replaced the crib. Skirts instead of onesies, and rubber boots (albeit on the wrong feet) now cover 10 not so little toes. It’s amazing how much faster things can change when you don’t want them to.
And yet, one thing is still the same. She is still my girl. Her eyes still grab me each and every time I see them, and my heart is still firmly in her possession. Those things, I know, will never change – even as the rest of her and our relationship does. For the rest of our days – she will be my baby, and I will be her daddy.
And so on this the day she turns 4 (foiy-ee), if I can tell her something I would want it to be this;
“Baby girl, daddy loves you like nothing he has ever known. He always has and he always will. There is no greater joy in my life than getting to be your dad. In our relationship, I am the lucky one. As you become the strong, confident, adventurous and talented young woman I know you’ll be; I will be your biggest fan. I’ll be there cheering right next to mom. You’ll never be too old to sing the ‘love you song’ to, and I’ll always ask you to remind me who my ‘bestest girl’ is (Essie J). You are already something and someone so unique and your own (despite being your mother’s mini-me), and I know the show is only starting. I will always take my front row seat, and watch in weepy and blubbering mess, as you conquer each and every minute of this beautiful thing we call life. I love you Esther Jillian, in ways I never knew I could. You are and will forever be, my baby, my daughter, and most of all my PRINCESS. Daddy learned to love one, just for you.”