I didn’t know who you would become or how much I could love my little girl that night, when I held you in my arms. The nurses pulled you out of the tub and handed you to me. They told me to take off my shirt, and hold you to my chest, and who was I to argue? The moments raced by as quick as the questions in my head.
What do I ACTUALLY know about girls?
How do you put hair in a pony tail?
What will I tell her about boys?
Will I be able to keep her safe?
Will she like sports or princesses more?
How short is too short for a skirt?
The questions just kept coming, but I couldn’t take my eyes off you. Your tiny little head. You big blue beautiful eyes. My precious little queen, laying gently in my arms.
When I held you in my arms that night, I didn’t know how your laugh would make me feel. I didn’t know that even when everything in the whole wide world is going wrong, a few giggles and a snort could turn everything around. I didn’t know the smiles on your face would make even the worst day feel like the precious gift from God it is, and remind me what a privilege and joy it is to hear you call me dad. I didn’t understand how a person I was supposed to take care of, would sometimes take care of me, in ways I didn’t know I need. That she would make me feel needed and important, capable and strong – that she could bring me joy completely, and also bring me to my knees.
When I held you in my arms, I didn’t think about the fun we’d have, the adventures we’d take, and the plans we’d make. I didn’t think about conversations we’d have, the songs we’d sing, the jokes we’d tell, or the tears we’d shed. I didn’t think about the shows we’d watch, the musicals we’d listen to, or the way my heart would skip a beat when you asked me questions about Jesus. To be honest, I didn’t think about much that night, except the fact that sitting in that chair I knew, that there was absolutely NOTHING that I wouldn’t do, to show that little girl how much love this world could show her, coming from her dad.
For seven years I’ve watched you grow, and change into the person you were made to be. Attitude from day one, and it hasn’t come close to stopping yet. I can still picture your grin behind your nuk, as you chased around the dog. Adventurous and strong, but still looking over your shoulder to make sure I was following close behind. I was then, and I still am today.
At some point we traded nuks for toys, and diapers for dresses. And my dear, no one wears them quite like you. Your confidence is stunning, and I am just in awe of the way it takes you seemingly wherever you want to go. I have had a front row seat, watching your excitement for life. Everything, it seems is the best thing ever, and you want to share it with all of us. Life is worth the living, and you are living yours with a fervor and a passion that few can rival.
The way you sing to yourself when no ones looking.
The way you play in the yard and spin without a care.
The mountain of stuffies that takes residence in your room, each one with a name, personality, and special place in your heart.
The way you treat other people the way they were meant to be treated – with kindness and compassion.
The way you think of other people first, and follow all the rules.
The way you dance, the way you laugh, the way you wrinkle your lips and scrunch up your nose. All of you is so unique, so special, so kind – a masterpiece made for a moment such as this – and Essie – I need more moments, all with you.
So today, I will sing you the “I love you song” and watch you eat your cake. I’ll tell you that you’re awesome, and blast your favorite tunes – I’ll give you mooches, count your “cheeks”, and who knows, I might even hold a doll. I’ll watch Matilda, Swedish Chef, and probably Sail Cat too. I’ll crack your middle fingers, I’ll pull those little toes, I watch you revel in every magical minute that turning seven has to offer, and then just before it ends….
I’ll lay down right beside you, underneath a pink blanket, next to 38 stuffies all perfectly placed with precision and care. I’ll turn on a podcast about a silly Australian dog names Bluey, take off your glasses and your socks – and I’ll tell you that I love you.
While I hold you in my arms.