you realize how fast time goes.
My youngest daughter, Elena (Laney or Bugaloo to me) turns one today. I can’t believe it. Well I can, but wow how the time goes.
When I first found out I was going to be a father five years ago, I was merging onto the highway. Why on earth would you tell the man of your dreams you were pregnant when he was accelerating at high speeds onto a traffic infested freeway? Well, that’s a short and somewhat funny story.
I was only twenty, and my wife was nervous to tell me she was pregnant. She wasn’t sure how I’d take it: would I be happy, sad, freak out and loose my marbles? The answer, of course, is beyond ecstatic, but that’s not the point. I was bugging her and making jokes.
“What are you, pregnant?” I ask.
Silence ensues. I turn to her. “Honey?”
She gives me a sweet, yet subtle smile. “Well actually…”
I spend the next few minutes nearing the highway turn-off, and saying out loud “Oh you’re a good actor babe…you’re kidding right? Are you serious? Like for serious, serious?”
Anyways, to make a short story longer than it needs to be, lets just say it took a few miles before my head wrapped around the idea.
I’d saved up a bunch of money and we were going to the big city to go on a shopping spree of sorts. Once we got there, I sat down in the food court for something to eat. There were kids, EVERYWHERE. The world started spinning and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was still a kid, how the heck would I raise one? Air was needed, and so I went outside.
We walked around the mall for a while after that, not going into a single store. Shopping for me just suddenly didn’t seem that important. I was going to be a dad. I didn’t need to blow a bunch of money on things I didn’t need. I needed to be responsible. So we took the hour and half long journey back home. Yes, apparently I drove an hour and a half to eat in a regular mall food court, and get dizzy.
By the time we got back home, my nerves had settled. I wasn’t scared, I was stoked. I was going to get a chance to raise a little baby. Boy or girl, it never mattered. I was just happy to be a future father.
That little baby turned out to be Peyton Lynn Merrick, a giant baby who is nearly six, and is 3/4 the height of my wife. She looks just like me, has many of my traits, but is so much like her mother.
Fast forward five years, and my wife and I had come to the conclusion we would only have one. We kept putting off having a second baby for one reason or another. Mostly finances. I wanted to be a really good position when we had another baby. Kids are a lot of work, and with mortgages, credit card debt, vehicle payments, I wanted to be a little more “on my feet” than I was.
After those five years passed, we started to get some independence back. Peyton was getting up and going to watch cartoons in the morning without even waking us. She brushed her own teeth, played on the iPad and Wii on her own and found a love for art. She draws, colors, does crafts, all day long. She has no use for toys at all. She was starting to branch into her own interests. Even though I was only 26, it seemed like they would be too far apart in age to ever be close…wrong.
Discovering I would have a second child was an incredible experience for me. There was no nervous tension, just excitement. I would lose some of those little freedoms I had recently gained, but that was fine. I would get to hold another wonder of the world. A tiny creation that would hold my fingers, play with my goatee, call me dada, and I would teach to growl in the cutest way, at a very early age.
You look just like your mother, but you act just like me. Another gorgeous girl. Your personality is strong, and it shines as big as your smile. Your laughter melts my heart, and to see the pure happiness in your face, by the most innocent things, is a gift to be cherished.
Elena Wynter Merrick is my last unicorn. She looks up to her big sister like you dream your youngest will, and her sister responds with love, attention, and laughter that exceeds my wishes. They’re a pair of gems, and they’re mine. Proud doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. Although they’ll have their differences as they grow older, they love each other. The age difference will affect them in many ways, but I know that they’ll always have that close bond with one another.
At some point, they’ll scream that the other one is in their room. They’ll argue and yell, and they’ll give each other the silent treatment. But, until that day comes, I have this.
Two precious girls that want nothing more than to spend time with one another. Two girls that have blessed my life and helped me grow. Two angels that have given me back the power to dream, the wonder of imagination, and the ability to follow my heart.
Happy birthday Bugaloo! Although I love how small and precious you are, and I adore how much you need me, I know eventually you’ll grow up and become your own independent person. I can see it happening already. Watching this journey of self-discovery happen is better than any story I could possibly fabricate, because it’s yours. It will be your journey and experiences that make you who you are, and who you’ll be come. I hope to give you the proper tools to become a kind, caring, generous, and strong individual.
The guy that watches you while you’re sleeping. It’s not creepy I swear.