My little girl turned a year old last week. I’m not quite sure how that is possible, but it happened. In the short span of a year’s time, she went from being a newborn completely incapable of caring for herself in any form, to now being this beautiful, spirited little one year old girl. Where before her feature set included crying, sleeping, and waste making, she now can walk, laugh, communicate, feed herself (mostly), and even has kung-fu action overhead chops. She even says words. What? Words. Some of them more clear than others, but the absence of certain syllables and blends doesn’t confuse the translation at this point. 

It’s more than difficult to remember life before her. It’s basically impossible. It also seems like it took us less time to hit the one year milestone with this one. Like it is actually more like 9 or 10 months as opposed to a full 12. Regardless of the time span, it reinforces my belief that being a dad is the greatest “job” and honor the world has to offer. 

Being a parent isn’t easy, by any stretch. There are days when you’ve firmly given yourself over to the fact that being a parent will, in fact, kill you. In those days, there is no mercy, just the peaceful respite as your head hits the pillow and the hope that tomorrow will be better bids you good day. There are other days when being a parent makes you feel like you’ll outlast a few stars still gestating out in the cosmos. And the passing of every 24-hour period is marked by the thought that’d you’d give anything, anything, to get those last 24 hours back because it means one more day with your children. 

This little one is fully capable of wearing these adorable little pigtails now. But… let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Pigtails signify the beginning of new chapters of growth that end in driving, dating, marriage, so and so forth. For now, lets concentrate, and enjoy, chasing around this portly little ball of joy. Laugh when she laughs. Play when she plays. Console when she cries. And, when she wipes away her tears and mucus on our shirts, we’ll wear that as a badge of honor. 

One of these days she’ll stay out well past curfew and make me worry. I’ll go through the various stages of worry that involve pacing whilst determining how miserable I will make her life for making my life miserable. This will give way to sitting, menacingly, in a chair in the dark waiting to catch her as she tries to sneak back in. Ultimately, it will result in me holding her tightly while thanking God she came home safe and sound. Then I’ll make her life miserable. Yes, then we’ll do that part. But not until she’s safe and sound. 

To be a parent is to be sacrificial. It means putting aside our own priorities, because this child, these children, are now the priority. They’re not tools. They’re not a means to an end. They’re not a status symbol. They’re not weapons. They’re flesh and blood. There is no longer this entitled sense of “me-time,” no, it is us-time. We made the decision to try to bring them here. There is no shirking that responsibility. We simply cannot allow that. They mean too much. They’re a blessing. 

She… is a blessing. 

Happy birthday, Sweetness. Please have many more. I want to lose track of them.