Before the bombings in Boston Monday, before the ricin letters were mailed in Washington, or the fertilizer plant blew in West, Texas, my family and I shared a simpler moment, when we gathered to celebrate my daughter Isabella’s first birthday last week.
I’m a first time dad, and an older, apprehensive one at that.
Every day brings a new chapter, and lord knows I’ve made too many parenting mistakes this year to count, but it has been amazing to watch this baby girl grow, and see me grow as I try to become a better father.
Isabella was something of a surprise. I’m still processing everything that led to her being here in my arms.
I used to run around New Orleans with my hair on fire, covering night life and participating in all that the Crescent City had to offer. No doubt I miss that at times. I miss the people who were important to me in that life, but I’m surrounded by some wonderful people now as well, and I can’t imagine life without Isabella in it.
My before-baby life and after both contain positives and negatives, but having this little girl who relies upon me for everything is enriching and rewarding in a way I had not previously experienced.
The happiest moment of my day, every day, is when I walk into the bedroom and Isabella is just beginning to stir. She pops her tiny head up off the pillow and gets the biggest smile on her face when she sees me peeking around the corner.
She raises her tiny arm and opens her hand wide as if to say, “I see you daddy, come and get me up.”
It melts my heart every time.
And when you see some of the terrible things happening in the world, it’s kind of nice to be surrounded by baby toys that play nursery rhymes.
I’m OK getting down on the ground with her and putting letter blocks into the Alphabet Train.
There is a level of comfort that comes with that kind of innocence.
I’m taking the time to appreciate each of these days, as it will not be long before I can’t just hand her the crinkly wrapper from my power bar and that will suffice as a toy.
It all will get more complicated as she grows and the outside world intrudes upon her innocence…
But not on this day. Not just yet.
Peanut’s actual birthday was last Wednesday, April 10, which happened to fall upon the victory rally for the NCAA Champion Louisville Cardinals.
That was quite a birthday party; lots of red-clad revelers, loud music, cheering, and even fountains to splash through.
Though festive, Peanut’s real party came on the weekend in two parts.
Saturday we celebrated at our place with my parents and my buddy Matt. It was nothing crazy, a couple presents, we sang “Happy Birthday,” and Isabella managed to drench herself in ice cream cake.
It seemed like a solid birthday. Matt was kind enough to bring a singing purple dinosaur into our house as a gift. Now I hear those songs in my sleep. Thank you very much!
Then Sunday we birthdayed in Louisville with Maia’s side of the family at Isabella’s aunt and uncle’s house.
This was a joint party as it also was Dennis and Gil’s youngest daughter, Carson’s birthday. They had all just returned from Europe, so both guests of honor were stretching their birthday celebrations.
It also meant more cake and ice cream. Actually very tasty cake (Thanks Gil!).
So life has finally started to settle back to normal. No more March Madness to follow, spring break is over for the brothers, and the big birthday is past.
My baby, whether I call her Isabella, Peanut or Waffles, is growing up.
She’s tottering around, holding onto the edges of the couch or whatever else to keep her upright. She’ll be popping up and walking anytime now.
And her noises are starting to become organized and make sense, or I’ve been drinking too much again. Hard to say.
Very soon she’ll blurt out a hello or something else epic.
It has been a crazy fast year. She was this tiny peanut last April, now she’s up and romping. I can only imagine what this year will bring.
Thanks Maia for being such an amazing person and parent. I’m learning. No matter what, we did make an incredible baby.