I’ve found that most of my readers, or at least the ones who comment regularly, tend to be women. As such, I was THRILLED to receive an email from Nick who expressed interest in submitting a couple of guest posts. Even better, Nick is an extremely talented writer (just check out his bio — wow!) whose blog I find thoroughly entertaining and subscribed to almost immediately.
Here, Nick writes about his new role in life as a new dad and the ever-changing relationship he experiences with his 4-month-old daughter. (And I would be lying if I were to say that it didn’t bring a tear to my eyes.) Enjoy!
There is a fine line to walk with this little girl of mine.
Abby is now four months old, a little bundle of teething-induced spittle, squawking catcalls, and silly smiles. She has reached a degree of intellectual development that allows her to grab a hold of anything within her tiny reach, and she has just enough control to shove whatever it is she has straight into her mouth. It is a far cry from her early days of being limp as noodle and asleep half the day.
But as fun as she is now, I miss my newborn.
Yes she was helplessly tiny, swollen, bleary-eyed and none too willing to vocalize beyond a very shrill wail. She was also my baby. My baby. We went through a year-and-a-half of fertility treatment and buckets of tears to get her into the world, and I didn’t want to let a second of her life go by without me treasuring it (and documenting it in still photos and video). I wanted her to stay just the way she was.
Of course, at the time I was unaware of the joy of “milestones.” Abby’s first smile — gas-induced as it was —tore my heart to shreds and left me a shattered, joyous mess. Her first cooing was a symphony. The last night we swaddled her was the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Suddenly I was looking forward to every new thing; my wife and I pored through my old psychology textbooks to figure out what Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky predicted Abby would do next. We watched for her changing attention span, periods of disengagement, her first consonants, and signs that things were staying in her memory for longer than a nanosecond. My little girl became something of a science experiment to me; she was a beaker full of love dressed in a sleeper. (She even releases stinky gasses like the experiments I did in high school!)
But this excitement holds its own pitfalls. I now find myself longing after a toddler, a talking child, my girl playing guitar, her first doodles, first stories, first arm-wrenching figure-four lock, first loves. I am catapulted into the future where I am telling stories at her wedding, where I show her pictures of the early days where I slow-danced her to sleep because nothing else would work.
Then I remember a piece of advice that someone gave me before my own wedding:
“Be present. It’s going to go by so fast that if you don’t try hard to be right there in the moment, it will go right past you.”
And with that I am pulled back to the present, where a four-month-old little girl is sitting in her Bumbo, a goofy grin plastered across her face and a silvery trail of drool running down to her Winnie the Pooh jumper. I wipe her face, pick her up, hold her against me. I remind myself that I can’t keep her from growing up, and I can’t jump forward in time (not until I fix up my DeLorean, anyway), so I should learn to celebrate every day for what it is.
And it is this:
About the Author:
Nicholas Stirling is descended from alcoholic Finns and pig-rearing Scotsmen. He has tried his hand at more than a few things: custom woodworking, bookstore management, and teaching (his current occupation) to name a few of them. He is happily married to his high school sweetheart, and lives in Ontario (that’s a province in Canada). He is currently promoting his first real stab at a readable novel, entitled Emily Rose, and his short story “Pretty Flowers” will be published in an upcoming edition of Morpheus Tales. He has also been a featured contributor on Cracked.com, with his “Elves” topic page picking up over 210,000 reads. He blogs regularly on Exercising Monsters.