4 years ago today my life changed forever. 4 years ago today, lots of lives changed forever. Something big happened that day, something I’ll remember as long as I live. It was one of those events that changes the entire course of your life, no matter what happens after it. It was an event that millions of people have experienced, and millions more who never will.
4 years ago today, I became a parent.
That’s right, my baby girl turned 4 years old today. I remember the day well… Alli was 4 days past her due date, so we decided to induce Mommy B that morning. It was kind of a strange feeling meeting with the OB. “You mean I get to pick my child’s birthday?” I asked. If she didn’t come on her own before then, then yes. Once the drugs kicked in and the contractions started, I called my sister (who was still up the road in college), and she hauled ass to Charleston. Grandma C was on her way, and little did I know that my parents were making their way as well. I watched Mommy B go from being nervous to being in agony as the contractions began in earnest. Then I watched from my front-row seat as they put the epidural in and her pain almost instantly subsided. I don’t know if she really took a nap at that point, but she looked so peaceful once the drugs were flowing.
A couple more hours went by and before we knew it, it was time to push. Those of you who follow this blog know I don’t like to sit on the sidelines when the action is taking place… so there I was, holding one of Mommy B’s legs to give her something strong to push against. And before we knew it, out came our daughter… with all her fingers and toes and a full head of dark hair. Followers might recall that we didn’t find out Alli’s gender ahead of time, so the moment she came out was truly a surprise to us. I took a good, long look at her girl parts before relaying the message back up to Mommy B to give her the news. She had been convinced the last couple months that our first child was going to be a boy, so she was even more surprised. They cleaned Alli up, got her to start crying and using those lungs of hers, then passed her back to Mommy B for the first hold.
Little did I know at that point, how truly exceptional of a mother she would become. The love in her eyes for her newborn was something words cannot begin to describe. You hear people say growing up that parents are supposed to “do anything for their children”… but to see that in someone’s eyes is very different. Then I got to hold my baby girl. Here she was, my flesh and blood, and I could literally hold her in my arms. I really wish there was a word to describe the combination of emotions that rose up inside me as I held her close. In my mind, her life was already flashing forward – changing diapers, first steps, taking the training wheels off her bike, cheering her on at her soccer game, pictures on prom night, moving her into her first college dorm, walking her down the aisle… and maybe, if I was lucky, I’d get to hold her first child as well.
A short time later they began the process of breastfeeding, which both girls took to very easily. Then they took Alli to the nursery and I ran across the street to buy a bottle of champagne. It was near record-setting heat that day, just like today. Highs in the upper 80’s – not bad right before Halloween. At that point Grandma C had arrived, along with Aunt Bacon. My parents weren’t far behind. They all took turns congratulating us and holding our sleeping princess. They were all a little suspect about the dark hair, but their concerns were put to rest in the coming months as it all fell out and her blond locks started filling in. Alli actually slept pretty well the first couple of nights. I actually remember thinking to myself, “Gosh, if this is what it’s going to be like, I don’t know why people complain about it so much.” Haha.
A lot has changed in 4 years, and it’s amazing to look back at it all now. We’ve been through a lot, as to be expected with any “new” parents. There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, and plenty of bumps along the way. We’ve had a second child, and moved to a new house. We’ve furthered our careers all in the name of bettering ourselves and enriching our children’s lives. We’ve painted a few walls, shuffled a few cars, and changed a few diapers. We’ve both lost sleep, but gained experience.
As you get older, you start to realize that as much as you try to teach your children, they end up teaching you a lot more than you think. I’ve learned that while patience is a virtue, idleness should be a sin. In that moment I held Alli in my arms for the first time I promised myself that I wouldn’t let life get in the way of my children. I wouldn’t put in late nights at the office just so they could have a shiny new piece of crap to get bored with. And, I would keep myself in good health as much as I could control – so that I wouldn’t just watch her ride her bike, but ride along with her. We would do things as a family – grow together, learn together, love together. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters: the relationships we’ve formed in our short life span on this planet. 4 years ago today I got to start a brand new relationship that changed my life forever, and it’s been a pretty darn good one.
Happy birthday, Allison – Daddy loves you