One: A Dad Reflects on His Daughters First Year of Life

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First Year of Life

She turns one today. My little Elliot Grace is all grows’d up and she’s all grows’d up. I can’t believe her first year of life has already passed us by.

One year ago today, Elliot Grace entered the world and shattered my naiveté about fatherhood. Sure, I’d been brought up to speed about the untold sleepless nights, the endless crying, the difficulties of feeding, the moments when you simply cannot console your child. I’d been told the horror stories of tantrums and wails in the public square accompanied by the judgmental stares of strangers perched in their towers of superiority. Diaper blowouts at the grocery store that leave you in a lurch looking for the closest bathroom in which to hose her down, massive amounts of spontaneous spit-up that run down your freshly pressed shirt just as you’re about to head out the door, the first moment of defiance as she throws food in your face because she’s tired of eating pureed peas, the adjustment in friendships as you focus inward on your family for a season while attempting to discover this new rhythm of life; I was prepped for all of these moments and more.*

I was one of the privileged few fathers able to experience the joy and agony as a stay-at-home dad–sometimes both joy and agony occurred simultaneously, I think most stay-at-home parents can identify with this seemingly contradictory emotional state. I will never forget those first 10-months** but during that time I was confronted with something unexpected: myself. No one ever told me that day-in and day-out, as a parent, you would be continually confronted with yourself, with your own selfishness, with your own unmet desires and unfulfilled wishes, with the fact that you are continually forced to choose: her or me. Parenthood is a perpetual cycle of self-sacrifice and every day, if you pay close attention, you die just a little bit more to yourself as you give more and more of yourself to your child. It’s actually a beautiful image of the gospel taking root in your life.

There is nothing that I wouldn’t give for this little girl. There is nothing that I would not sacrifice to make sure that she is okay, that she feels safe, that she knows she is loved. There is nothing that I would not do to prevent her pain, to protect her, to make sure that she has everything she needs. And perhaps that has been the steepest learning curve: I do have the capacity to love another person more than myself.

In her short year of life, this little girl has changed my world teaching me more than I ever expected possible. She continually brings joy wherever she goes and has this tremendous ability to make people smile making friends with anyone and everyone—especially strangers who are instantly captured in her web of joy. She has such a vigor and excitement for life and an inherent love and concern for people. I look forward to watching her blossom into an amazing woman whom I have no doubt will leave this world a better place than before she graced us with her presence, for she has already changed mine.

* I was able to handle some of these moments with more grace than others… but I maintain that the older gentleman at the Whole Foods who stared at me over his glasses with such an air of arrogance and superiority while squawking, “could you please keep your child quiet?” totally deserved the over-the-top sarcastic-laden scolding I gave him. I will admit, watching him walk away deflated with his tail between his legs was quite satisfying. (Elliot approved too. She wasn’t even crying when the man entered into his momentary ignorance, she was just really exuberant and excited to be at Whole Foods learning about fresh produce.)

** I believe those 10-months solidified her as a daddy’s girl!

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