I have a problem. Actually, I have a lot of problems. Everybody does. Some don’t admit it, but the truth of the matter is we all have our struggles and flaws.
One of my many flaws is the tendency to mourn the passage of time. I do this far too much with my children. Essentially, it comes down to the fact that I love being a dad. I feel like it’s what I was put on Earth to do. I wish I could carry around a version of each one of my children at each of their ages and spend a limitless amount of time with all of them. Because no amount of time would be enough.
My middle child—an amazing daughter—turns six tomorrow.
You want to know what a mess I am? You wanna hear about my problems?
How’s this? I’ve spent the last eight nights sneaking into my little girl’s room around midnight after I get done editing, kissing her on the cheek, holding her little hand, and crying at her bedside because I don’t want her to grow up. I’m not trying to sound “touching” or “moving” here because frankly, I just feel pathetic. I kneel there beside her and stare at her angelic face and tell her I love her over and over again because I want her to know it and to feel the depth and strength of my love for her.
I just can’t understand how it can be. It was only yesterday I was calling the doctor on duty because the newborn baby sleeping curled up and facedown on my chest was sleeping too much. My first child—my son—had been a tempestuous newborn and had screamed himself hoarse every night. I thought it terrifying that this little girl curled up like a bug on my chest was just…sleeping. I would read, watch a movie with the headphones on, and read some more. But much of the time I just lay there smiling and gently massaging my newborn daughter’s velvety back. I’d inhale the scent of her hair, kiss the side of her face, and generally feel complete euphoria for hours at a time.
So how can that little pillbug be turning six?
A former teacher of mine posted the following Isak Dinesen quote on FB last night: “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.”
Wow. Talk about hitting home.
Fact: My little baby girl turns six tomorrow.
Fact: My little baby boy turns eight only two weeks after that.
Fact: My youngest daughter is two, but in four years or so I’m going to be feeling the same way I feel now, only more powerfully because my other two kids will be…will be…
*takes a deep breath*
Remembers another quote, this one by a great sage named Gandalf: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
I need to fight my urge to worry. I need to battle my panic over the fact that my babies are growing up. Most of all, I need to remember that though we’re all growing older every moment of every day, my children will always be my children, and I will always be their father. I’m so very thankful for that. Because it’s the one thing that time cannot take away.
And yep, I’m crying again. But I’m doing that because of how much I feel and how much I love them. I think these tears are pretty healthy.
Happy Birthday tomorrow, my amazing, wonderful, irreplaceable, dream-come-true little baby girl. I can still feel you lying on my chest. I can still remember the euphoria of being with you.
Because I still feel the same way when I’m with you. I’ll always feel the same way, whether we’re together or apart. Because I’ll always be your daddy.
And you’ll always be my baby girl.
8 thoughts on “A Thought about My Daughter’s Birthday Tomorrow”
Dude, that is probably the best thing you’ve written…seriously. Got me kind of teary eyed. On a personal note, I envy you. I’m just a stepdad, but proud to be one. My wife’s four and three quarters year old little girl daily, almost hourly some days, tells me, “Chris, I love you.”. And hugs me…or gives me a kiss, or both. That, my friend, is a gift I’m glad to have.
Chris, you don’t need to envy me at all. In my sequel to The Sorrows (which I’ve been working on this summer), there’s a scene where that very thing is discussed. I think for a guy, it isn’t so much the biological part of it that’s special. Sure, that’s neat and all. But for a man it’s almost purely emotional, and you either feel it or you don’t.
A lot of biological fathers aren’t fathers at all. But a great many stepfathers and boyfriends are better fathers than the biological fathers ever could have been. It’s about unselfish love, and I suspect you have it. And I suspect your children know it.
Thanks for your kind words about the post.
At least you appreciate every stage of their lives. It’s amaznig how fast it goes. I remember videotaping my girls sleeping head to head on the couch on Christmas Eve, both of them so tiny and beautiful and perfect. I can still hear their little voices singing and laughing and, of course, crying. Now they’re both teens, with my youngest going to a Rob Zombie concert today. How did this happen? When I think of the past, I do so fondly. I embrace their present, because they are just so damn cool and fun. And the future, well, that will be what it will be.
Enjoy your daughter’s birthday!
Thanks a lot for choking me up again! 🙂
I totally understand your feelings and am happy to hear you talk about how awesome things are right now, too. That’s what I need to remember. There are great parts about every stage–even when they’re adults. We never stop being their fathers.
You’re a damn good dad too, Hunter (in your father’s tradition.)
Jeez, who knew I’d learn so much about fatherhood from two dudes I know online.
Well now you’ve done it, I’m all teary and weepy. You’re doing this parenting thing right, Jonathan. Don’t feel pathetic for being a great dad. You’re instincts are serving you well – it does go fast and you should savor every second of it.
Keep in mind that it changes, but it stays good. Just yesterday, I realized how proud I am of the WAY my son (17) is learning to drive. He’s a real person in his own right – a little of me and a little of the Ogre, sure, but he’s also this miraculous being that is independant of us. There’s something magical about that too.
Sorry about that, Renae. I didn’t mean to choke you up. But I’m very happy you think I’m approaching parenting the right way. It’s the most important job I’ll ever do, so I want to do it right.
And I LOOOOOVE hearing stories like the one you told about your son. Knowing that the later stages are awesome too makes me feel reassured. THANK YOU! 🙂
That’s lovely and I understand completely, I feel the exact same way about my 8 year old boy, who is growing up faster than I can keep up with.