Awesome things happen to me. Perhaps not every day, but often enough to take note. Now don't get me wrong- this isn't some ego-driven plug for how great I am or how I make awesome happen around me. I've never been the make-things-happen type. It's a sincere observation of the blessings and joyous moments that I have been fortunate enough to experience in my nearly twenty-eight years. Some of them are awesome in way that I don't realize until much later the caliber of their awesome. Sometimes, however, it stares me right in the face and then catches me staring back and throws an awesome punch just for good measure.
There have actually been quite a few of these moments over the last eleven months (can you believe eleven months have gone by since Lila joined our family?) The first night I held Lila, the first time she laughed, when she started crawling across the floor to harass the dog and Franny just sat there patiently and let her. All awesome. And I've seen a lot of awesome (again, not trying to make this about me, but I did once candidly receive an amiable wave from a soldier driving a tank down 95th Street. Awesome). But just a few days ago the best thing yet happened. In order to fully illustrate the point, however, we need to look back about three months.
I'm not going to suggest that dads can have a full appreciation for what moms go through in the first year of parenthood, nor can I pretend to completely sympathize with my extraordinary wife's exhausting daily routine of taking care of Lila. That said, we dads have our fair share of struggles, not least of which is reconciling baby's natural affinity for mom. For the first eight months or so of Lila's life I never won a parental preference contest. Not that I try to pit myself against Kelsey, but everyone likes to be picked once in a while. After spending a few days in Denver in August, during which I got to give Kelsey some down time while I took Lila to the pool or we walked to a coffee shop, I finally started getting a taste of what every proud parent loves. The tiny and longingly outstretched arms, the lean-ins for kisses, the grip tightening around my sleeve when other people reach out to hold her. And I'm not entirely proud of the fact that I enjoy it just a little bit when I leave for work in the morning and hear her crying at my absence. I can't help it. I spent eight months in a relationship of one-directional affection and now I'm getting some back. It makes me go eeeeeeeeeeeeee like I'm going too fast on a motorcycle.
So speaking of the unjust separation forced on me by having to go to work every day, last week the most awesome thing so far happened. As I opened the front door and walked past Franny, who was convulsing with elation at my return, Lila turned around from her toys, looked at me and said, smiling, "Da-da." And all at once my heart and lungs and brain collapsed and exploded and caught fire and were reborn from the ashes. I love coming home. But who wouldn't want to come home to this?
That's what I thought. Nobody. If I had to make a top five list of things I am loving right now, it would go like this (besides Kelsey who, I have been informed, holds the perennial #1 spot on any of my Awesome Things lists):