Since we brought you home a little more than a year ago, so much has changed.
I still look at you and marvel at your presence in our lives. Perhaps I always will. Your existence is a miracle. As you’ve grown and eagerly explored and learned this past year, so have Mommy and Daddy. Here’s what Daddy has learned.
I would’ve thought “chew it up and swallow it” is instinctual. Turns out instinctual is “chew it up and spit it out.”
In fact, you sometimes chew something, take it out of your mouth and put it on the tray. New food you then drop directly onto the floor.
Food you had no interest in when it was on your tray is much more appetizing when it’s on the floor.
If you loved eating it today, you’ll almost certainly hate it tomorrow.
Oatmeal cookies for breakfast are better than nothing for breakfast.
The dog will eat anything you feed him by hand.
Under no circumstances should a popsicle have a napkin wrapped around it. This is a tragedy worthy of screaming and crying.
My Gag threshold has changed significantly
When mommy and daddy first brought you home, we took you to meet mommy’s family. You had been with us for only a day. Daddy had you in the guestroom trying to help you take a nap. But you didn’t sleep because you needed your diaper changed. At that point daddy had only changed you a few times. But you’re my daughter, so how difficult could it be?
So much poop and such a squirming baby. And daddy gagged and gagged. Blinded by tears flooding my eyes, I struggled on, committed to changing that diaper by myself because you are my little girl.
A year later, you still squirm, but Daddy can handle just about everything. Recently, getting ready to give you a bath, I took your diaper off to let everything “air out” as you stood next to the tub waiting for the water to fill.
When I picked you up, I saw that you were actually standing and pooping.
Daddy tried to hold you on the toilet but you were done. So Daddy cleaned you up with toilet paper. Daddy had to call mommy to come help throw away the soiled bath toy and get the soiled rug.
And through all of that not once did I gag!
(Full disclosure – recently mommy was giving you a bath when she called Daddy for help. You pooped in the tub during your bath. It was rough. Daddy gagged pretty hard that night. )
What goes on inside a little girl’s diaper is a mystery to her father.
My capacity to love has grown beyond anything I would have imagined possible.
There is nothing more important in life than growing our capacity to love and be loved.
Daddy and Mommy love each other. And when you came into our lives, our hearts swelled larger with love. We love you more than we’ve every loved anyone before. Your love for us is unconditional and it feeds the unconditional love we have for you.
Babies are fast
Because you wander around tottering and occasionally falling over I’m lulled into a false belief that you remain that slow when I’m not looking.
Paradoxically, when we take our eyes off you for any reason you miraculously become rock steady and fleet of foot.
The more important the reason for our distraction, the faster you move.
You’re a tiny person
You developed a personality quickly. You have a favorite spot where you often sit. You love to wear your shoes, inside or out. You play hard, you eat food by the tiny fistful and you sleep soundly.
You’re really easy going, and are seldom fussy. Although lately, you get whiny when you don’t get your way. Today you were really upset that Daddy wouldn’t let you play with the trash.
You have favorite foods, an insatiable curiosity, and you love looking at strangers and smiling happily.
“That made my day,” a woman said, after you smiled joyfully at her in the grocery store.
You have a tremendously magnetic personality that draws people to you.
I wonder if you still have that, when you’re reading this.
Nothing else matters
You are our priority.
Like planets orbiting the sun, our whole lives revolve around you.
Mommy and daddy used to see a lot of movies – We’ve gone to the movie theater twice in the past year. Daddy thought he was going to finish writing his novel, six months ago. Daddy hasn’t auditioned for plays because I don’t want to be away from you during rehearsals.
We’ve rearranged our whole lives for you, and you’re worth every second.
Your birth family is present
You are our daughter. You are a part of us. Our hearts and spirits are connected.
but like an amputee’s phantom limb, the specter of your birth family is present.
You’ll have questions as you get older. We’ll answer them. And just as we do today, we’ll walk alongside you as you explore the world.
Well, it finally happened, shopping with you the other day at Costco.
Walking around the store, your head is up as you try to see everything at once. Turning from side to side and then back again in the seat, you look at other people, at the shelves, the lights of the ceiling, the items I put in the basket, Everything is interesting and fascinating.
I carry on a continuous conversation with you while we shop. We talk about everything that’s going on. The shopping list. The things I put in the cart. Your reaction to things. The free samples. We interact with each other as you interact with the environment. It’s usual.
There were little girls and boys around your age at the store. But they don’t behave the way you do. They cower in the carts like trapped, wide-eyed animals that look like this:
You’re clearly different from many babies your age. When we take you out people complement you. They can see your excitement.
Other shoppers return your smile and comment on how happy you are.
They say things like, “oh, she’s so pretty.”
”Look at that smile. “
She’s so precious.”
”How old is she?” the Costco employee asked.
”14 months this past Monday.”
And then it happened –
”Is she your granddaughter?”
”She’s my daughter.”
Someone was going to ask that, I just thought I’d be older when they did.
Plenty of people are grandparents when they reach the age Mommy and Daddy are now.
Mommy and Daddy have friends from high school who are grandparents.
The reality is we’re old enough to be your grandparents, but we’re just Mommy and Daddy, and you’re our little girl.
It’s up to us to decipher what you’re trying to say.
Some things you say are pretty simple.
Other utterings are a little more complex.
They are different words, but mean the same thing. When we’re trying to put a shoe on you or give you something and you would rather do it – “Idoitdoidoit.”
Deciphering often has a lot to do with context.
“Idon.” I have no idea what it means. I thought I did when I wrote it down but as I try to explain it here, the meaning eludes me. It’s not what you say when you’re done eating. When you’re done, you just drop surplus food or a bottle onto the floor without a sound.
“Aye.” Accompanied by the point of your little finger, it means you want something, we just have to figure out what it is.
Mommy tries to get you to “use your words,” while daddy is trying to just use words himself.
“What do you want?”
“Do you want the apple?”
Your tone never changes. Seemingly, you could go on for hours saying the same word and pointing.
“The kiwi?” It’s on the counter next to the apple.
“Kiwi or apple?” I ask, holding them both to you.
“Aye.” You point at the kiwi.
And then you eat it all.
You eat a lot.
You move a lot and you eat a lot. You’re walking nearly everywhere. You only crawl to get up or down a step, but you’re really great at turning around and lowering yourself down. Down the back stairs or over the side of the bed, you turn around and down you go.
Saturday we went to celebrate Easter with Mommy’s side of the family.
At dinner with the family – there were 25 of us – you consumed an entire pear. For dessert. After already eating a lot of dinner. Daddy cut a piece of the pear and you ate it. And you kept eating until it was gone.
You can drink as much as 12 ounces from the liquid solids bottle during a meal. You’re not eating with a fork or spoon yet, but you can eat a lot with your hands. If we try to make you eat with a spoon, you squeal and say, “idoitdoidoit.” But you don’t. You smile happily while you play with the spoon and eat with your other hand.
There can be a lot of squealing and sometimes you just scream. At 14 months-old, it’s like you’ve entered the terrible twos. I can’t imagine what you’ll be like in 10 months.
Your birth certificate arrived yesterday.
It has my name on it. And your mommy’s name. And your name. You’re our little girl.
And I still shake my head in wonder.
So many years of my life were spent thinking I’d never have a child, and now here you are, sitting next to me in your highchair making talking noises and eating spinach and peppers pizza for lunch.
Mommy had nearly given up on marriage before I came along, and we both agreed that even at our age, we’d be happy if we were to have a child. (One of us believed that God’s will would determine if we had a baby. The other of us believed God was walking alongside us while uncountable and uncontrollable factors determined the outcome.)
Both of us believe you are a miracle, bathed in the Grace of God. And here you sit next to me. Our daughter. With our last name. Our miracle. Eating pizza.
We learned yesterday that another hearing has been set for Nov. 10. And then we have to wait 30 days, before our lawyer can file the Petition for Adoption. That will be filed around December 10, and finalized December 22.
We’ll call in and be ‘present’ on the phone, for the final hearing, Dec. 22.
You’re already our daughter. Our little girl.
Just in time for Christmas, your last name will be our last name and you’ll be all ours forever.