An Open Letter To My Darling Daughter On Her First Birthday

Wow, I can’t believe you’re one today. Depending on the day, it either seems like the time has flown by or like you’re been part of our lives for far more than 365 days. Truthfully, you were part of us for the nine months before that, of course, but as much as I would look at the black and white ultrasound photo that still sits on a shelf directly across from where I sit every day, I could not have imagined what you’d really be like. I could see your nose, but that’s about it. I had no idea you’d have such bright, blue, sparkly eyes or that your cheeks would be so popular that strangers would come out of nowhere and say they wanted to eat them. Don’t worry, I didn’t let them. A few copped a quick cheek feel, but I kept an eye on them.

No, I really could not have known what being your dad would be like, how amazing it would be, how impressive you are and how completely my happiness has been connected to yours. I doubt you will remember this down the line, but when you have a bad day, so do I. When you’re popping out teeth and just not feeling well, I can’t help but feel out of sorts myself (and not just because those are the days where you seem dead set on clearing everything off of every shelf and table in the condo). I could not have known how warm my heart would get when you look at me and said “dada” or when you finally started laughing. I can’t really explain how mad I get when people cut us off in the car or when those strangers try to touch you. Mom calls it my “daddy bear” coming out and that just about explains it perfectly. How dare they, don’t they know I’m carrying precious cargo?

Something that most parents say to their kids is that they just want their kids to be safe and happy. Oftentimes, parents will go overboard on the former and wind up inhibiting the latter. I know I’ve probably done this already and will most likely do it as you grow up, but I want you to know that it all comes from a place of love and caring. I do my best to let you run around and do your own thing and hope you know I’ll always be there to scoop you up when you fall down (both literally and figuratively).

Looking back, it’s been a heckuva year. Remember when I used to carry you through the whole grocery store because you were too small for the cart and I didn’t want to use those gross ones with built in baby seats? Or how about when you were so little, we’d have to wrap you up in a blanket so you wouldn’t bonk yourself in the face and wake up? Or how your tiny hands and inquisitive nature have lead to an early exploration of the guitar? No, you probably won’t, but that’s okay. I’ve taken plenty of pictures and done a fair amount of writing her on the blog and over on my photo diary about your exploits, so we’ll hopefully be able to strolls together down memory lane.

You won’t understand this — or maybe any of this — until you have kids of your own, but I want you to know how proud I am of you and how much I love you. It’s such a complete and honest and true feeling that comes from deep inside. Like just about everything else about being a parent, it’s hard to explain, but instantly recognizable when you feel it. I hope my own issues and problems don’t seep down to do you too much and I apologize for my bad days, but want you to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love and support you and want you to have everything the world has to offer. Happy birthday chickadee.

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