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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
you were born.
It’s like you were born with your eyes open, eager to see the world.
And 15 months later, your eyes have only opened wider and you need to see everything all at once.
Mommy and Daddy loved each other so much, and now you’ve added to that love. You add to our love and magnify it and give it back.
You have made our lives more wonderful and special. You’re a precious gift. Our little girl.
You met Dr. Rodgers last week.
And several very nice nurses and other hospital staff when you took your first trip to the emergency room.
You rolled off the changing table and landed in an open drawer. The cut next to your eye won’t even leave a scar. By the time mommy held your arms, and daddy held your head so that Dr. Rodgers could probe the cut to determine its severity, it didn’t hurt enough for you to cry. You shrugged at the discomfort, and then laughed and smiled your toothless smile when it was over.
It was an accident that happened in less than a heartbeat, and it reminded us that life is as delicate as butterfly wings and as fleeting as the breeze from the beating of those wings.
Mommy’s faithful companion for many years has been a dog. She adopted him as a puppy, and he’s more than 12 years old, now.
When you see him, you laugh and smile and you want to touch him. From across the room, you’ll stare at him when he walks by. Mommy and I know that his time is limited, that he’s entering the twilight of his days. We get sad when we think of the day when he’ll be gone. We love him, and have done our very best to give him a good life, and have enjoyed having him with us.
Our hearts are so filled with love for you that it feels like they will burst, but we know that same love will one day turn to heartbreak when you face hurts we can’t heal and difficulties and challenges and pains that we can’t begin to imagine. Life is delicate and fragile and fleeting.
Our hearts ache with love for you, and we know our hearts will one day ache when we share the pain you’ll feel – a pain we won’t be able to kiss or rub away. But like today, we’ll hold you when you cry and we’ll be here for you. And no matter what, that won’t ever change.
“Who does she look like?” is a common conversation around babies as the baby gurgles and coos and squirms.
People usually study the faces of babies searching for traces of genetic clues.
“Who does she look like?”
Characteristics of eyes and noses and ears and hair pass down from generation to generation. In many ways each of us is the result of everyone who came before us. We look like all of them, and we look like ourselves.
“Who does she look like,” people may naturally ask.
Who do you look like? You look like the love of your mommy and daddy, who have waited for you for so long. You look like the culmination of two lifetimes of hopes and dreams that have come together to create a home and family for you.
You look like love and joy and happiness.
You are the image of God. You are a child of God and you look exactly like the God who created you.
Rest well, little girl, your family is waiting for you.