I lay in the hospital bed, exhausted but elated. Seven pounds, ten ounces. After twelve hours, we were thrilled to find out she was in perfect health. The tiny body gets handed over to me ever so carefully. I lay eyes on my daughter for the first time. I take in every bit of her as I watch her tiny head react to her daddy’s finger on her cheek. I look up at her daddy, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks. He kisses me and says he loves me.
I roll over, groaning, trying to push him out of the bed to go pick up our daughter and get her to stop crying. We haven’t slept well because she can’t sleep through the night yet. He grudgingly gets up and leaves the room to comfort the baby. Very shortly after it’s quiet and he comes back. I look over and notice the tiny bundle in his arms. I start to protest but he flumps down on the bed and falls back asleep, the quiet baby on his stomach. I lay awake and watch her as her tiny body moves up and down from her daddy’s breathing, along with her own.
It’s her first birthday. She is toddling around the house, holding on to legs and furniture as she explores and waves her small hand at her family members and neighbors that came to celebrate her. My parents hug me and my husband and then kiss her tiny cheeks. My dad starts to dance with her. His parents arrive. I run up and hug his mother and ask how they have been. They are in love with her tiny curls. Her big eyes and bright smile dazzle our guests, along with both her daddy and me.
She is babbling away to me from the back seat. Her high pitched, girly voice telling me a story she made up. I breathe slowly, trying to keep calm. It’s her first day going to preschool and I’m a mess. She is getting so big so fast. Her tiny, pink backpack her Nana picked out for her, packed with a healthy lunch and paper and crayons. I pull up to the school and park, rubbing my eyes so she doesn’t see me crying. I open up her door and she hops out, still talking endlessly. I hug her and kiss her goodbye and she only half pays attention as she say ‘I love you’ before running off into her new adventures.
Third grade rolls around. She takes the bus now. I brush her long hair and braid it or do new cute styles with it. As always she is telling me stories, but now she is telling me about friends and boys and homework instead of adventures that we would have. Her daddy comes in and hugs her before she runs out the door to meet with the neighbor girl who walks to the bus stop with her. I look at him sadly and he holds me tight, keeping me strong as my baby grows up in mere moments.
She is thirteen tomorrow. Her daddy and I are wrapping gifts as our little teenager sleeps. I sit quietly taping the paper closed. He holds my hands in his and he smiles at me. I smile, imagining the smile on my baby girl’s face as she sees her gifts. She has gotten so grown up. She has a boyfriend and spends so much time with her friends. I’m really starting to miss her.
Time for high school. How did time go so fast? Just yesterday she was learning to talk and now she is getting ready for her future. We are picking out back to school clothes for her. He taste has changed so much over the years. I encourage her to have her own style, while insisting on a few choices of my own. Her big, beautiful eyes just waiting to see the world, her smile full of excitement.
I’m always the bad guy. I’m always the monster who tries to control her. I’m always wrong. We are always arguing. What seems like every night since she turned fifteen I have gone to bed, crying, curled up in my husband’s arms. She doesn’t seem to want or need me anymore. He just holds me tight telling me everything will be okay.
She comes home crying. I hold her close as she tells me about how he broke her heart. I can’t help but cry with her. Her first love just crushed her. She hasn’t been her usual bubbly self. It hurts to see her like this. Her daddy gets her to laugh. They have the same dumb sense of humor.
Prom night. She gathers up her dress and makeup and hair supplies. She is getting together with some of her friends to go get ready. Our house is on the way, so they are coming back for some pictures before they leave. Her and her date look great together.
I watch her walk across that big stage. She shakes the principal’s hand after he hands her a diploma. She practically bounces across the stage after moving her tassel to the other side of her cap. Her glow of excitement seems to fill the room as her potential expands and bursts as the caps fly into the air. He squeezes my hand. I smile and kiss him, my cheek pressed against his as he whispers ‘We did a good job’. I giggle through tears and nod as he hugs me and we stand to applaud her graduating class.
The drive seems to only take seconds. We arrive at her beautiful college campus. I busy myself with arranging her clothes and dorm decorations as her and her daddy run around taking care of things. We meet her roommate. She seems great, I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s time to leave. I hold my little girl as tight as I did when she was only minutes old and as I have every time since. I can’t hold it back any longer. I start to cry. She holds me tighter and tells me that she loves me. I pull away and I see those big, beautiful eyes as she tries to smile at me reassuringly. Her daddy and I drive away. I can’t stop crying. I started missing her before we even left.
She tells me all about her friends and the things she is doing and her classes. She had met a boy in her class. She says he’s the one. He is perfect. I couldn’t be happier for her. He came home and visited us for a couple long weekends. We video chat and her excitement flows through every fiber of her being. I tell her I love her and blow kisses before she logs off to go on her one year anniversary with this boy.
It’s midnight. I get a call from her. I answer and I can barely understand her, she is talking so fast. I smile to myself and ask her to slow down. That boy proposed to her. My baby girl is engaged. I smile with excitement and hold onto her daddy tightly as he tells her how happy he is for her.
I brush her hair like I did so many years ago when she was a little girl. Her big white gown is made from my old wedding gown, which was made from my mother’s. She is so nervous but can’t wait to walk down that aisle. I kiss her cheek and she says that she loves me. I head out to my seat and watch as my sweet little girl becomes a wife.
I walk with my husband into the hospital room. I look at my baby girl as her tired face is filled with emotion. Her husband smiles at us, an arm wrapped around her shoulder. She looks down at the tiny pink baby girl wrapped up tightly in her arms.