You turned nine-months-old today. Nine months is a huge number in my mind. Nine months is how long you lived inside of your Mom. Nine months of pure bliss in learning about pregnancy, labor and delivery and your Mom and me bonding even closer than than the day that we swore among family and friends that we would be together forever. Prior to that, the concept of “my daughter” and who you’ve actually turned out to be is beyond comprehension. If someone where to ask me, “Explain what it’s like to be a Dad.” I would answer that question with a question and ask, “Have you met my baby?” And you would do the rest of the talking. You would point and give a huge smile with your toothless grin which would fill the room happiness and immediately make everyone realize that life really is good. You’re just that kind of person.
Our favorite thing to do now is play after I’ve given you a bath. I set you down on the bed with your towel still wrapped around you and our game begins. After you’re mostly dry, I throw whatever part of the towel that isn’t wrapped around your body over your head and then I sneak my head up behind yours and whisper, “Where’s Maly? Where’s Maly?” And you start giggling and try to start crawling away with the towel still covering your face. I keep my head next to yours and keep whispering into your ear, “Where’s Maly?” You always give in and lie on your stomach and pull your face under your arm and giggle, all the while knowing that I’ll always be there, right behind you.
We’ve also created a new game this month that I like to call the “Suicide Game”. After you’ve dried off, I take towel off and let your crawl around the bed. It’s then that I start saying, “I’m gonna get you!!” You start laughing and crawling to the opposite side of the bed. I crawl on the floor beside the bed in the direction in which you’re heading. You laugh uncontrollably as you crawl while watch my head traveling to the same side of the bed as you. The bad habit we’ve established is that you don’t stop when you get to the edge of the bed. Well, you do stop for a moment, but I think you wait until I get there before you take your “leap of faith”. You took your first leap on accident and luckily I was there to catch one of your legs and keep you from landing head-first onto the bedroom floor. Now you always assume that I’m going to catch your legs and swing you upside down and make you giggle. It’s a bad habit that we’ve gotten ourselves into but it’s A LOT of fun. Just don’t tell your Mom. I hope that when I’m really old and you have to take care of me that you’ll swing me around by the ankles and make fart noises on my stomach when I go to launch myself off of your bed!
Speaking of habits. It’s been a few months since you grew out of your baby bathtub that I used to bathe you in. When I first starting bathing you in the big tub, I was trying to find the way in which it was most convenient for me to bathe you. I decided to kick off my flip flops and sit on the edge of the tub with my feet in the water with you. Now that the weather is getting colder, I have to take off my shoes, socks and roll up my jeans in order to partially get in the tub with you. I don’t know what age you’ll be when you can take baths by yourself but if you find yourself at 13-years-old and I’m walking to the bathroom with you while wearing capri pants and no shoes, you might want to say, “Hey Dad, I’ve got it figured out now. And you really shouldn’t be wearing my capri pants.”
Your Grandpa B. gave me a set of iPod speakers for Christmas this year. I decided to put them in your bathroom so we could listen to music while I give you a bath. We always listen 70’s country music because it reminds me of my Dad. We like to listen to Tom T. Hall, Crystal Gayle, Waylon Jennings, Freddie Fender, Charlie Pride, Willy Nelson and the rest. I try to sing to you and I think I do a pretty good job considering the bathroom’s acoustics. You don’t complain so I guess we have a pretty good time. I look forward to bath days because you and I have time to play and you really like the water. When you’re old enough, I’m thinking that I’ll buy a boat, just like my Dad did and you can learn to water ski and fish.
You had your first Christmas this year. Again you played the role of my little angel. I don’t know if I could’ve made it through the day without an emotional breakdown had you not been there with me. You sat in my lap the entire time while we all opened presents. I gave your Grandma a card that told her how thankful I was to have had the Dad that I had. I also told her that I was proud and thankful for her and my Dad. I watched her open the card and read it as I was clutching you in my lap. Your Grandma and I made eye contact long enough to share a heartfelt thought of missing your Grandpa. I was really sad at that point and wished that your Grandpa could have been there to kiss you and say, “Merry Christmas, Sugar!”
I gave your Mom a card that I wrote by hand. On it was a poem from the card that Grandpa gave to Grandma the year before he died. It was an emotional day for me but I’m glad that I had you there with me to help me through it. I think you really helped your Grandma too.
You thoroughly enjoyed your first Christmas. You got all kind of fun presents and even better, wrapping paper and bows! I’m glad you were able to spend your first Christmas in Des Moines with your family. I’m also glad that you were born into a family that loves each other so much.
Other parents have told me that they can’t imagine life without their children. You’ve made me realize how true that is. There are no words to describe the joy that you’ve brought to me. If I’ve had a bad day, you make all of the bad disappear the moment I hold you in my arms. For being such a little person, you sure have a lot of power.
You never cease to amaze me. You’ve taught yourself to crawl almost fast enough to keep up with me as I walk about the house. You pull yourself up onto your feet by using my legs, pat the back of my knees and say, “Huuuuh!! Huuuuhhh!!” when you want me to pick you up. You point and smile at strangers. You love to giggle as you look at yourself in the mirror.
You’re very outgoing but very bashful at the same time. You smile and point at me and then turn your head ever so slightly while pulling your shoulders up to your ears while you watch me out of the corner of your eye and giggle and snort.
It’s true: I can’t imagine life without you. You make me smile and laugh in ways that I never knew were possible. I love and cherish every moment that I have with you. And every moment that I have with you is the best moment of my life.
I love you, Sugar!