Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father's Day Letter to My Kids

Ellen and Marie,

Do you know how much your Daddy loves you?  I love getting to observe his extravagant love for you.

Sometimes I'm pretty sure he loves you two more than he loves me.  He has a way of swooping right past me when he gets home from work, all smiles and kisses for you first, Nell, then a little oohing over baby Ree, and then "Hi, babe," to me as a bit of an afterthought.  Oh hey, don't mind me, I'm just here to keep the kids alive for your enjoyment.

{family photo from last year on Father's Day}

Nell, when you were a baby, I remember how your Dad would gaze at you, then say quietly to me, "She's so lovely."  Baby acne or awkward hair phases -- he barely noticed these things.  To him you were perfect from Day 1.  In fact, when you were first born, he held you and said to me, "She smells so good.  How can she smell so good already?"  {It's true, you did smell good!}

That first night in the hospital with you, Nell, when you woke and cried it was your Dad that leapt from the hospital chair and brought you to me to nurse.  When you were finished, he'd lay you carefully back in the basinet, and I remember seeing his tall frame bent low over you, his hands cradling your head and his forearms along the length of you.  He stayed like that for a long time, until you slept soundly again.

That was just the beginning of what would become your Dad taking great pride in learning the ins and outs of your little personality.  Later on he figured out that you liked having your feet held together, and that it could calm you down when you were upset.  And that you liked Beethoven better than Mozart when it came time for me to take a shower each evening, which was when you and your Dad would listen to music together.  He even decided that he was better, more thorough, quicker, and more gentle at diaper changes than I could ever be, and I'd overhear him telling you, "Your Mom isn't as good at this as Daddy is, of course!"

By the time you were one, you copied the way Daddy pretended to conduct whenever listening to music, waving your arms in the air with great excitement.  You're two years old now, and sometimes when I'm making dinner you and Dad stand just around the corner from me, in the music room, and play the piano or the organ.  You're particularly fond of standing high on the piano bench, your back against your Dad's chest, pulling out the organ stops while he plays.

When Daddy gets home from work each day, he's usually pretty worn out, and distracted by the ongoing stresses of his work.  That doesn't stop him from flipping you upside down and making you squeal with glee, though, or covering you with kisses. While engaging in these antics, he frequently reminds you that he is "the fun parent" -- a title I'm pretty sure you agree with.

Whenever we hear a little noise from somewhere in the house, you look at me and whisper, with so much excitement in your voice, "Ohh!  Daddy!", certain that perhaps he's at home and that creak was evidence of his presence.  I always feel bad to break it to you that it's not him!

We "co-slept" with you, which means you usually slept in our bed until you were about one and a half.  Well, your Daddy will probably deny it, but he was pretty fond of those nighttime snuggles.  And he was, and continues to be, a champ about comforting you in the night when you need it.

{Even when he goes to you and you scream "NO! MOMMY!" at him like you did last night.  Toddlers!  So ungrateful.}

Ree, your relationship with your Daddy is only about five weeks along, but oh, he loves you very much.

I may as well be honest and tell you that the other day he asked me, "When is she going to start being fun like Nell is?"  Well, by the time you're old enough to read this, you'll know your Dad well enough to know that he's a little bit crazy and a little bit blunt and has a quirky sense of humor.

But lest you feel like you're getting the short end of the stick here - in both stories and photos - I have the best, best, best picture of your Dad holding you.  In fact, it's so wonderful that he refuses to let me share it.  It's one of those pictures of a moment so special that it'll just be for us to enjoy.  Someday I'll frame it for your bedroom, I think.

Your Daddy always considered himself the expert swaddler when Nell was a newborn, and sure enough, from the day we brought you home he could calm you down with a far better swaddle than I can do.  He is much better at getting you into your car seat without waking you, too.

In the past day or two, you've just begun to figure out how to smile.  Your Dad makes fun of me for the lengths I'll go to to try to elicit one of these dopey smiles, but don't be fooled - he does the same silly things when no one is looking.

He also frequently makes adoring proclamations about you, such as, "She's so intelligent!  And she's so mature for her age!"  Ah, parental bias knows no bounds.

Last night he held you like a little football for an hour while I washed some dishes and then practiced my violin.  You were so content in his arms!  You already seem to like sitting in his lap while he plays the piano, too.

Girls, I am so glad that you have a good father.  His patience begins where mine seems to end, and while he can be firm when it's called for, he is always in possession of great gentleness and understanding, too.

With so many years ahead of us, I know your individual relationships with your Dad will grow and change in many ways.  Whatever the toddler years may bring, whatever elementary school holds, whatever the teenage years throw our way, may you always know that you are loved by your Dad, so very much.  You always have been, and you always will be.

{P.S. We celebrated Father's Day a day early this year because your Dad works so, so hard to take care of our family that he was working all day today, from 6 am to 7 pm.}

{P.P.S. Your mother loves you, too.}

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, Sarah. Your girls are blessed to have such a Daddy, and he is blessed to have such a wife! :)