Two years ago today, my Small Girl was born.
I always wanted a family, in part because my family was a happy one, and my parents were always quick to tell my sister and I how much they loved us and how happy we made them. So I was raised thinking families were important, and my wife wanted children too, so when the time was right we started trying. It didn’t take long.
The Small Girl, who is also known as the Wiggler, the Monkey-Toed One, Madzilla, Peanut, and the Countess von Wigglestein, was a healthy 8 pounds, 13 ounces. The thing is, though, that you don’t just not have a baby one day and then have one the next; the pregnancy is a long, long nine months (and I had the easier part.) So for nine months, your child is both reality and abstraction; it’s a physical reality in the sense that my wife was changing, but still not a new person in your home.
All new parents are nervous to one extent or another, but I think I was less nervous than most. For one thing, it’s just in my nature to accept things, and for another I’d had experience with babies and small children before, and so had my wife, so the logistics of the thing weren’t mysterious to us. Still you’re nervous about the awesome scope of the responsibility placed upon you.
But when we took the Small One home (we left half a day early; we just did not want to lay around the hospital any longer) and I went to get something for my wife and walked into the living room to see her there with my daughter asleep on her shoulder, I knew all was as it should be.
Nothing about the Small One is unique or unusual; she’s big for her age and smart, but there are lots of little girls just like her. And yet, she is like no other creature that has ever existed. I already knew all the basic developmental stages babies go through, but every step forward was an amazing revelation.
I know all proud parents talk about their kids with the same words, and I am not sure I’m eloquent enough to write anything you haven’t already read. It’s just not possible, at least not for me, to explain what having her did to me. Everyone says it “Changes” you, that your perspective on the world changes, and I suppose that’s sort of true, but it’s not how I feel. I’m still, in many respects, the same jerk I always was. But it… it expands you. It adds to you, makes you more than you were before. Before my world contained X, but now it contains far more than X.
Before the Small Girl, I was a happy guy; I had a good life, and I’ve been generally pretty lucky and I’m at least smart enough to know I’m lucky. But the Small One makes me so much happier than I ever was before that I just can’t explain it to you. When I go by her daycare to pick her up and she shrieks “Daddy!” and comes running as fast as her shaky little legs can take her, the feeling of elation and joy is physical, almost visceral; I can feel my chest swelling with pride and love. It’s the sort of love that really brings personal, powerful, tangible meaning to the word, the sort of love that makes you say “Ahhh, now I understand. Now I get it.”
I got into an MSN conversation with an old Army buddy the other day; he’s single, no kids. He asked me how fatherhood wsa going and I told him it was the greatest thing in the history of the world, and a huge amount of fun. He replied “Well, not as fun as sex.” I told him, well, no, it’s a LOT more fun, not that I don’t want lots more sex, but my kid beats anything else ever. I don’t think he believed me… but I don’t blame him, because before I had the Small One, I couldn’t have believed it either. How could you when I can’t even adequately verbalize it?
My Small Girl loves the Wiggles, and tries to sing along and do the dances. The other day she was doing the “Rock-A-Bye-Your-Bear” dance and I was up doing it with her. Mrs. RickJay clapped and laughed along. I honestly don’t think I have ever enjoyed anything more in my entire life, and if there’s a God and I go to heaven, I hope I can relive that moment as part of my eternal reward, because it was that wonderful. I simply could not be happier.
She’s two years old today. How did that go so fast? It was just a few days ago she was born, wasn’t it? I remember when she was so small I could almost cup her in my hands. I remember how when she was three months old, she loves to smile at our faux-antique clock that hangs in the living room. I remember when she started crawling. I remember her first word. I remember when she learned to walk. It was all just yesterday, wasn’t it?
Two whole years, the best of my life and they went so fast. God, please, I so want to have the patience to enjoy the years to come. I hope I’m a good father. I hope she grows up strong and happy. I hope for more moments like that one where I was dancing with her.
Some people think they owe their parents. Oh, no, no, that’s just not true, not with me, anyway. I owe the Small Girl. You wouldn’t think a toddler could give you this much, but they do.
Happy Birthday, princess.