On January 19, 1996 at 2:32 p.m. my life changed forever. In fact, every facet of my life changed forever. Physically, I felt a mess (4th degree episiotomy is the medical term. "Frankengina" or "the perineal disaster" was more descriptive. Probably too descriptive, but there we are). Emotionally, I was both high as a kite (I had never felt such love for anything, ever. I didn't even know I had the capacity for such love until that moment.) and terrified beyond belief (this tiny wee thing that I loved so much? was utterly defenseless. HO-LY shit! Anything could happen! Anything!).
I was so proud (Because, guys? She was the most beautiful baby you ever did see. Honestly, just look:)
I was so humbled. (Because on the other hand, guys? Jeff and I were going to be THE MAIN influence on what got put between those precious little ears. We were going to be the base that everything she knew, and felt, and believed was built upon. And we SUCKED at a lot of things. We were 25 and 26 for crying out loud! What did we know?!?)
This parenting gig?? It's been amazing. And scary. And wonderful. And awful. NOTHING could have prepared me for what was to come...the highs of watching my daughter learn and grow and mature, indescribable. She was SO. DANG. SMART. At one time Jeff told me, "I don't even tell daughter stories at work anymore. It doesn't seem fair to the other dads...their kid just remembered the dog's name...ours can do rudimentary physics." (True story. At two, she asked me how far it was to Birmingham (about 60 miles)...then said, "Oh, so if we go 60 mph, we'll be there in an hour.")
But then there were the lows of seeing her heart get broken (kids are mean little shits sometimes)...of seeing my own heart get broken as she grew and distanced herself from me.
All in all, she turned out mighty fine. I was reminded of this the other day...
Kiddo was home from college and we had decided to go get pedicures together. We settled in to our pedicure chairs...the Daughter chatting it up with a boy she had graduated with, who worked at the nail salon. He was cute as a button and very obviously gay (he had waxed eyebrows, eyeliner and high-heeled, knee-high boots on). As Daughter wandered over to pick out her color of nail polish, he leaned towards me and whispered, "Do you know how amazing your daughter is?" Of course, I DO think I know how amazing she is, but I always enjoy hearing it from others.
Pedi-dude proceeded to tell me how my daughter had come to his defense time and again after he came out in high school...both in person and on social media.
How she made it a point to sit by him at lunch if he was ever alone.
How she COMPLETELY dressed down someone who was bullying him on Facebook by throwing Bible verses at him and telling him he was going to Hell. She had fired right back at this "Christian" about how a follower of Christ should ACT and put him in his place about what his actual JOB was (to love one another and to lead people to God) and what it was NOT(to be judge-y and hateful and run people off the whole idea of God).
My pedicurist said to me, "You'll never know what her support has meant to me over these past couple of years. You don't expect it from the popular, smart, cheerleader types. I just wanted to tell you "Thank you" for raising her like you did."
It's those kinds of moments that let me know that Jeff and I did a pretty decent job.