Five years ago I became a parent.
My life changed at that moment. I don't know if you're ever really ready to be a parent, but when parental responsibility is thrust upon you, you just adapt. For example, before Annie was born, I was terrified of holding a baby. I had held a baby maybe twice in my life. I thought I would drop it or make it cry. I had definitely never changed a diaper. But when I held my beautiful baby girl in my hands for the first time, I looked down at her and I knew that I would never drop this sweet bundle, and that I would do everything I could to protect her and help her grow into an amazing person.
We never put her down when she was a baby. I couldn't! I would leave for work, be sick that I couldn't see her all day, come home late and then hold her all night. It was the only time I could spend with her. I would rock her in my arms, sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for hours, and love every minute of it. And she would fit perfectly over my belly.
I still remember leaving her that first day back at work. I was heartbroken that I was leaving her.
Fast forward five years. FIVE YEARS!
Am I old enough to have a five year old?
Well, she's no longer small enough to fit perfectly on my belly. Although it's not for a lack of trying on my belly's part - it's been growing at the same rate as Annie.
We have so much fun together. Annie has an amazing imagination. She's more imaginative than I am, and I'm a middle child. That's imagination! Every night we go exploring, fight dragons with light sabers, have tea with princesses, save mermaids stuck in rapids, fly away to Neverland with either pixie dust or a magic carpet, climb Jack's beanstalk, heal sick patients, do heroic deeds as Super Girl and Wonder Dad... the list goes on and on! It's nonstop imaginative play at my house.
It's like I'm a kid again. And I'm not gonna grow up this time!
(My son, Peter, is usually Darth Vader or Spiderman during these fantasies. He's really good with a lightsaber.)
To celebrate Annie's birthday, we had an Easter Birthday party over the weekend with our family and then today we had a party for Annie's friends. Betty throws the best parties with the best food, so when Annie said she wanted a Strawberry Shortcut party, Betty went out and made some tasty treats made with strawberries, such as:
Strawberry Shortcake (made with pound cake, strawberries and cream cheese icing). This was probably one of the greatest things I've ever eaten in my life.
Oh, and you know, a few other things like strawberry cake, peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches, ginger snaps, pimento cheese wraps, muffins, salad, scones with homemade lemon curd.... I'm getting hungry again!
Not satisfied with having delicious food to share with Annie's friends, Betty's mom got the kids some caterpillars that formed chrysalises and hatched into butterflies during the party. You can't time that any better!
Cake and ice cream are a must at birthday parties, but we played dress-up before Annie blew out the candles. That's Peter in his Spiderman costume. He wasn't really playing dress-up here... this is his usual outfit at our house. He was keeping bad guys away from Annie's cake.
After a nice fun day with family and friends, we took Annie out to eat for her birthday. She decided to go to Frank's in Prairieville, which is one of our favorite places to eat. The kids hadn't napped during the day and traffic was bad, so Peter ended up falling asleep on the way there. He also slept through dinner (but don't worry, he ate a fruit pouch at 10:30 pm because I'm a sucker).
I've loved every minute of being a father. And I'm so proud of my little girl. I can't really remember what life was like before we had kids, and frankly I don't want to. I know that Annie won't remember a lot from these first five years, but I know that our experiences will help shape who she will be for the rest of her life. I hope that she'll look back one day on this blog, our photo albums, Anne and Pete of the day (which I'm in dire need of updating), and see how much fun we had. That she sees how much we love her. Peter, too, of course! Betty and I are so lucky to have two beautiful children. (I take all the credit, of course.)
Happy birthday, sweetheart. Daddy loves you.