To My Little Girl on Her First Birthday

Wow. Time has flown, hasn’t it? It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since you joined our family. Just kidding! When you have three kids under six, every day can feel like a lifetime. I believe you’ve met your brothers, no? Right, yes. The ones that make a lot of noise. Like all the time. So yeah, you totally understand where I’m coming from.

You’ve only been around for a year? Unbelievable. Sometimes it feels like you’ve always been with us. Like our little family unit wasn’t quite right without your smile. But what a year it’s been. I won’t dwell on the negative, but things are kind of bad right now. Hopefully this will all be a blip and by the time you’re five or six everything will be back on track, but I can’t help but feel like the world you are entering is going to be very difficult. Of course, that’s always been the case, but now the signs and symptoms are more ever present and clearly visible on the surface. In the end, all we can do is our best. And perhaps your pure happiness and joy is as good a place to start as any.

Speaking of joy, I’ll always remember how excited your brothers were about you. Not at any specific moment, just all the time. Before you were born, they were excited for you to arrive. Once you were born, they always wanted to hold you. And now, a year later, they still can’t wait to come get you when you wake up from a nap. Even when you wreck their Lego towers or try to steal their food, they still manage to get mad at each other instead of you for some reason.

But enough about them, right? It’s your birthday, so this is supposed to be about you! Sorry about that. And for how you can get lost in their shadow daily. But to be fair, for that first six months or so you did kind of just lie around most of the time, so it was easy for the boys to steal the show just by sheer volume of activity. Now, though, you’re catching up fast. For example, you’ve started climbing on furniture! So great. Oh, and walking. You win the prize for earliest of the three to walk! Now instead of just army crawling everywhere, you can walk very slowly. Even better, soon you might lose interest in the dog bowls! There are many exciting times to come.

Before we move on, though, there is one image that best captures your first year. It involves your oldest brother, Jacob, but it’s worth it. I promise. Most nights when he’s going up to bed I stand in the hallway by the stairs holding you. Then Jacob back pedals down the hallway, blowing kisses as he goes. (What can I say, as a family we are big on saying goodbyes.) You watch him intently and when he disappears around the corner you make little noises and jump a little in my arms. Then, when he re-appears for his encore, you just light up. Your trademark smile creeps across your face and you wave your arms excitedly. Jacob runs to us and we grab him up together for a hug.

So yeah, I guess it’s not just the boys who are excited about you. No one can make you laugh like Jacob can. At bedtime and almost any other time.

Anyway, happy birthday to you, my last baby. It finally hit me one night recently as we rocked in the big comfy chair in our living room. The room was quiet. The day’s frenetic activity was over as the two dervishes were soundly asleep upstairs. And as you fell asleep in my arms I looked down at your sleeping face and thought, “Dang, you are the last of my babies that I will ever hold.” Talk about time passing quickly. Sometimes I barely feel like an adult and yet I’ve already reached a last. I guess there is something about holding the last child ever who will share half of your DNA that makes you reflect.

Oh well, there is plenty of time left to think about all the sentimental stuff. For now, we have a first birthday to celebrate. And a cake to smash. Don’t worry though. If you’re not up to performing for everyone, I know a small team who will be ready to help deflect the attention. You know how it is.

Party!

Party!

If you love this post, I have some good news. You can catch up on everything that came before by grabbing my book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and pretty much all of your favorite online book retailers in paperback or ebook.