"Daddy, hold hand."
"Daddy, read book."
"Daddy, sit here."
"Daddy, I two -- I a big girl!"
"Daaaa-ddeeeee... pweeese... Daaaaaa-ddddeeeeeee!"
These are the words of my daughter. Words that melt my heart.
My daughter is an early talker. I'm not sure if it's because she wants to keep up with her brother and two dads who all love to talk, or if she just inherently has a lot of stories to tell. Either way, my daughter has undeniably found her voice -- and her confidence -- and I couldn't be prouder.
But her words also mean she's no longer a baby. She's recently turned 2, and that means we are officially done with the baby phase in our house. With two wonderful kids, our family is now complete.
It's a strange feeling, saying goodbye to the baby phase. We've been in this phase since returning from our honeymoon. We didn't come back from Hawaii pregnant like most couples; we returned knowing it was the right time to pursue our dreams of becoming dads. And while it took a couple years to happen, for the past seven years, our life has revolved around babies, including:
- Prepping for and eagerly awaiting their births
- Decorating the nurseries and dealing with pressures of choosing the right accoutrements, such as bottles, formulas, cribs, diapers. (I honestly had no idea there were so many strollers to choose from.)
- Holding and swaddling their tiny newborn bodies, simultaneously feeling the immense responsibilities and experiencing the most intense love
- Sleepless nights, some filled with never-ending crying, with so many more filled with endless cuddles and sweet coos
- Countless diapers: filled with... well, you know
- So many firsts: first smiles, first teeth, first words, first foods, first giggles, first steps...
But am I really ready to say goodbye to baby?
Just last week, my incredible husband, knowing that I couldn't bring myself to do it, spent the day packing away many of the baby toys that hadn't been played with for a very long time. The baby bottles, once so important for both the sustenance of life and the soothing of cries, are starting to gather dust. And I know there will be a few tears -- mine, not my daughter's -- when we pack the crib away in a few weeks and move her to her toddler bed.
But deep down, I know I'm ready. Watching both our children continue to grow into the smart, kind and courageous kids they are today has made me the proudest Daddy.
So, my dear daughter, as you turn 2, and we say goodbye to baby, please always remember:
You're a girl who loves to move. Maybe you'll be a soccer player, a dancer or a sprinter. Or given how you and your brother play, maybe a rugby player. Either way, I hope you always remember how fun it is to play. Always keep moving and stay active.
You're a girl who loves shoes. I'm pretty sure you get that from your Poppa. Continue to wear those shoes confidently and walk down the street with your head held high. Already at 2, you command a presence when you enter a room. Never lose that confidence.
You're a girl who loves books. And while you can't yet read, you can spend countless minutes and hours combing through books, either on your own or with your Daddy and Poppa. Keep learning and exploring the world of imagination through literature. Words are magic and can take you to so many wonderful places.
You're a girl who is determined. Whether it's learning how to master walking up and down stairs or sitting on the bottom of the stairs refusing to leave the house because you want to wear the purple boots, not the pink boots, you never give up. When you set your mind to something, you do everything you can to make it happen. Don't give up that resolve and determination. It will take you far in life.
You're a girl who has the best laugh. Your smiles and giggles fill our hearts. As you grow, there will be times in life when it's hard to smile. But remember that Daddy, Poppa and your brother will always be here for you. Keep that spirited joy in your heart and never stop laughing.
Finally, my dear daughter, as we say goodbye to baby, always remember the famous words attributed to Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."
You and your brother have brought me and your Poppa countless smiles. While I'm sad to say good-bye to baby, I'm ready to watch you continue to grow. Thanks to you both, I understand that my heart is no longer mine alone. Instead, it grows outside my body, in the form of you and your brother, the two kindest, most beautiful beings I have ever known.