It is the surprise of it all, really, that makes it so astounding.
It wasn’t so long ago that she was a little cherub happily dozing in her daddy’s arms as I rocked in the big brown chair. My head snuggled against the soft pillow of the headrest, hers into the crook of my elbow. I remember how perfectly her body curved into my arm and hand. I remember my feet crossed, with just the outer toes of my left foot on the floor and the gentle rock of the chair that seemed to happen all on its own. I remember the silence, save for the dog’s slumbering sighs and the squeak of the chair springs.
It was the kind of scene I pictured when I thought of becoming a father and when I first held her in my arms. I think it is what every parent pictures when this journey starts.
Years passed and now scenes and sounds that I never imagined happen on a daily basis.
Some moments are beyond description, the little ones that seem to happen when you least expect it and most need it. When kindness or generosity or graciousness or courage escape from under their uncertain, egocentric blankets. When imagination creates a tiny world of love. When independence speaks gently and with thought. Lessons you have been trying to teach to what so often seem like deaf ears do begin to take root and to watch that happen over seconds and minutes remind you that you are not a failure.
Like a sunrise, these moments just happen, laden with beauty and magic, whether you are paying attention or not.
The thing is that those are not the only moments that make up the everydays that make up the journey itself. They are not the only surprises.
Before emotions became thoughts which became words which became sentences, the cherub just loved her daddy. He was great. He soothed her aches and tended to her every need. As she grew, so did her understanding of the world in which she lived and the players within it. And she began to understand her power. Those words and those sentences had effect and they drew responses and attention. She could conjure emotion in others with her words. She learned that those words could be a blanket or a brick, even though she didn’t understand the hows or the whys of it all.
I never dreamed when I was only yet to be a father that these little people could lift me or crush me so easily. I am a grown man who has seen his share of beauty and anguish, who lives in and values the world of reason and logic. Yet, all the experience and sense that I have gathered often do not leave me prepared for all that I see now, knee deep in my everydays with my daughters. They surprise me with their ire, just as they do with their capacity for love. And I am often left stripped bare by both.
I understand it, when standing at a distance. I know their minds are in constant, dynamic growth. I know that linear thought is beyond them, that a connection between ‘if’ and ‘then’ is still down the road a bit. I know very deeply that they love me and like me even when the still developing neurons begin firing like a Fourth of July finale in their beautiful heads and cause their mouths to say otherwise. And I know that I can’t let it show how much it sometimes hurts, but there isn’t much that I always succeed at even if I succeed a lot.
Still, being a part of all of these moments – the wonderful and the unbearable and every one in between – is the journey. All of these moments have brought me to emotions and thoughts I never could have approached had I not been here for them, had these two little girls not been here with me. I am astounded by it all and I can’t wait to see what else will surprise me.