You never forget becoming a dad for the first time. It has been fourteen years since the birth of our first daughter, but the memories are so vivid, it seems like yesterday.
My mother-in-law made us a late lunch which included roast, carrots, homemade rolls and chocolate pie. We checked into the hospital at 7:00 p.m., and in between paperwork and waiting for the medicine to take effect, we watched Chris Carpenter shut out the Marlins as a hurricane approached South Florida. Carpenter’s performance, a complete game in which he enforced his will on the hapless Marlins, was a harbinger of things to come. Our strong-willed daughter would arrive twelve short hours later.
It was a long night, but she was worth the wait-Anna was perfect. Her color was a beautiful, pink hue, her eyes were open and bright, and her cry was delicate. It was love at first sight.
Over the next couple of months, she grew-her cheeks at a disproportionate rate. She had giant, pinchable cheeks. During our first trip to the zoo, we overheard a little boy say, “Momma, look at that baby with those big ol’ cheeks!” She had curly hair that formed perfect ringlets in the Missouri summertime. Chris and I went to New York for our 5th anniversary, and when we landed in St. Louis, Anna was waiting for us. She ran towards us, her pigtails bouncing back and forth, wearing her favorite “Hello Kitty” shirt. The moment is frozen in my memory, Anna, forever our little girl.
But, in reality, she is now a young lady, and I’m proud of the person she is becoming. She is a great student, friend, and big sister. She loves to dance, and the stage is her natural element. There she utilizes a talent befitting of her middle name. She has come a long way from her first dance recital, once racing off stage in a panic. She now dances confidently, gracefully, and joyfully.
The only thing Anna loves more than dance is her cat, Millie. She is a doting cat sister. Anna and Millie are kindred spirits, each independent, strong-willed, and seeking relationships on their terms (Anna hugs you, you don’t hug Anna).
It has been a joy watching Anna Grace grow up, and I wish I could hit the pause button. Despite my best efforts to corral, organize, and maximize time, it is fleeting and meant to be enjoyed and appreciated. So; I try to savor each moment along the way. Tomorrow she will turn fourteen, which will be an excellent opportunity to make more memories. Happy Birthday, Anna Grace!