At some point in the future, my daughter will read this. She’ll read it and know that I didn’t start writing about her until she was almost 15 months old. She’ll know I didn’t chronicle her mother’s trip through pregnancy. She’ll know that all the pictures I took don’t have dates written on the back although they may have modified dates on their files. She won’t know what I was feeling at the time of her birth; she won’t know how many nights I spent on the couch while my wife was carrying her.
Does that bother me? Yes it does. Immeasurably. It’s like knowing you have a favorite cartoon but you can’t remember the theme song or the characters. A watershed event and all the scribes are looking at each other saying “Oh come on, tell me you were taping that!”
Rowan Michelle was born 14 months, 7 days and 22 ½ hours ago. I have a small notebook by my bedside that has some things written down, to keep them for posterity. I have digital and analogue photos of the first year of her life. My wife recorded heartbeats from her belly. We’ve kept the sonograms from Aug 18th when we found out she was pregnant. I have a drawing only loosely put together of my wife at 9 months as a silhouette and a trace of Rowan after she was born to show how small she was.
I don’t have anything committed to paper. No organization. Our “My First” book is very blank. We tried the handprint in plaster and that scared her so we stopped. Most of the attempts I’ve made to chronicle her first year were a good intention, but fell short leaving me to be spurred on and inspired to start no matter the time.
But I wanted her to know, that this last year was all about her. The birth to the learning to the walking to the teething has all been about someone who’s younger than our beagle. Think of the things you have accomplished in the past year. Go ahead. No really, give it a shot. You probably got a raise? Yes, probably. The economy hasn’t been great but surely a cost of living increase. You may have moved somewhere, better apartment perhaps. Good for you. How many people bought an appliance or an electronic item? Ok, a few, and a few had to sell them back again. Ok, how many of you learned to walk?
Big thing, right? Walking. How many of you who got an X-Box also grew some new teeth? Anyone double his or her height? Anyone learn to eat solid food? (A few broken jaws don’t count.)
Here’s a list of things she’s learned to do since she was born, in no particular order. Focus. Scream. Cry. Pee. Poop. Burp. Flex her fingers. Make a fist. Move her arms. Move her head. Follow an object. Roll over. Raise her head. Sit. Crawl. Stand. Pivot. Pull up. Kick. Laugh. Smile. Coo. Gurgle. The letter E. The letter B. The letter M. Grab. Let go. Clap. The word Hi. The word Bye. Wave. Where her nose is. How old she is. Slap. Walk. Run. Push. Pull. Drink. Eat. Use a spoon. Throw. Jump. The word Mama. The word Dada. The word Puppy. The word Baby. What No means. How to “take something to mommy.” How to “find her shoes.” Where her belly is. Where her ears are. Sign language for “more.” Sign for “diaper.” How to give someone love. The words “thank you.” Close her eyes. Dance. Spin in a circle. Say “stinky.”
I’m not even mentioning some things and already she’s out paced the things I’ve learned by about 4000% percent. I learned useless crap, nothing to use for survival. She learned a form of communication, fine motor control and how to manipulate her surroundings. I’m in awe of it. I marvel each time she does something new. Each day is another lifetime.
I just hope that at some point she reads this and understands that I was there while it happened. I want her to understand that her parents love her very much even though she may not realize it for years to come.