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Zach Lute

Happy Birthday, Maddie!

Dear Maddie,

Today you are one year old. Well, technically it's still 11:30pm when I'm writing this, so you're not one yet. Although you are one on the east coast, where you were born. Here in Washington, I guess you're "What? Washington?" you're thinking, "I thought we lived in Rhode Island." Yes, I can see how you'd think that, based on this blog, but a lot has happened in the past year. A better father would have written 15 blog posts about it, but you're stuck with me, and if you'll recall, I told you when this whole thing started that I'd be terrible about updating this. So, yeah, we live in Washington now. Maybe I'll write about that, later, but that's not what this post is about. This post is about you.

My beautiful, clever, funny, loud, crazy, messy, wonderful wonderful daughter, as I write this, you are snoring on the couch behind me. You're on the couch because when we tried to put you to bed, you refused and screamed your cute little head off. But you were happy to fall asleep on the couch, and since you're much too cute to disturb, and after all it's your birthday so you should be allowed to sleep wherever you please, my job now is to sit here and make sure you don't roll off. Parenting is weird.

photo of sleeping baby

It's so hard to believe that one year ago I hadn't even met you yet. I'd talked to you and read to you and worried about you and dreamed about you, but your tiny little red hand hadn't yet wrapped around my finger and changed my life forever. Weird, right?

Today, a whole year later, it feels like my entire life revolves around you. I don't really know how to explain that, so let me tell you a little bit about how my days go.

You're there when I wake up in the morning, usually because you're the one waking me up by climbing up on my back and saying "Dadadadadadada" and then whispering "hi" in your cute little voice when I roll over to groggily look at you. Yeah, you're usually in our bed in the morning. We try really hard to put you in your crib every night, and sometimes it even works, but we're suckers, and when you wake up yelling for us in the middle of the night, you usually end up in our bed. I hope that this is something we can eventually move beyond, because as much as I love having you in our bed, it'll get a bit weird when you're 30.

So once I'm up and we've said our hellos, I have to get ready for work, and this usually displeases you greatly. You want me to play, and I really want to, but one day you'll learn about responsibilities and bills and all that and your life will be way less awesome, so try not to worry about that stuff for awhile. Usually I can convince you to go back to sleep before I kiss your little head and head off to work.

All day, your mom and I text each other. She tells me things you've done. Sometimes great things like a new thing you ate or a new word you're trying to say. Sometimes not so great things like a new thing you ate (and shouldn't have) or what you got all over another thing. I miss you, and I like to look at pictures of you.

At night, when I get home, you're so excited to see me. Your mom tells me that often during the day, you yell for me. Usually when she's making you do something you don't like, like eat your peas. "Dadadadada," you yell, as if to say, "My dad would never make me do something awful like eat peas." Don't worry, though, you give me the same treatment. "My mom would never get soap in my eyes," you often say accusingly, or at least that's often what I hear.

But when I come home you're so excited and I pick you up and carry you around and give your poor, long-suffering mother a reprieve from her duties and as far as I know she gets to use the bathroom for the first time that whole day. You laugh and smile and I'm happy to see you. So it's a pretty joyous time for everybody.

After that we have dinner. You usually eat something from a tube to start with. Fruit from a tube is pretty cool, but I'm not totally on board with the idea of meat from a tube. You love it, though. Way more than from a spoon. Babies are weird. After that, you generally eat some of whatever we're having. I was going to say, "You love..." and list some things, but the fact of the matter is you love almost everything. To give some examples from dinner tonight, things you love include: bread, tomatoes, meatballs, parmesan cheese, beets. Some things you DO NOT love: beans, olives. Usually you love olives. I guess not tonight. And man did you hate beans. Every time we tried to give you one, you made this awful face like we gave you poison and then just let it fall out of your mouth. You also learned to drink from a straw today. This is awesome to watch, because you seem surprised every time it works. And then sometimes you drink too much milk and let it all fall out of your mouth in a waterfall. Babies are gross.

After dinner, we play. I like to believe this is the time of the day when you tell me all of the things you did that day, but since I don't really speak your language, a lot of it is lost on your poor, dumb dad.

Then it's bath time! Oh, Maddie, I love bath time. For a long time, you showered with your mom, because it was just easier. But now we've started to give you baths by yourself at night, which at first you hated SO MUCH. You would scream and cry, and your mom thinks it's because one time you decided to eat the soap and that was a traumatizing experience for you. But eventually you got over it, and now you love bath time. Your Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy got you some dinosaur toys and we play with them in the bath. They stick to the walls, but you mostly like to make sure you're always holding one in each hand while you make dinosaur noises. You love it when I fill a cup with water and splash it on you and say, "KABOOM!" You laugh and laugh. One thing you do NOT like is when bath time is over. The tyranny of the diaper and the towel are upon you once again and the world grows a little darker.

After bath time, it's bed time. Your mom usually reads you a story...or fifteen stories. We go through a lot of library books around here. Eventually you (usually) fall asleep and we put you in your crib and say our quiet goodnights. What happens a few hours later is already documented above. Yeah, we're suckers. I already admitted that.

And then the next day, it starts all over again.

There is no part of my day when I'm not playing with you, or watching you sleep, or thinking about you. You are my entire world, and not even for a moment would I have it any other way. The past year has been incredible and crazy and scary and joyous, and sharing it with you and your mom has been perfect. I'm so excited about your second year, and I'm really going to try to do a better job of writing about it, but given the choice between writing a blog post and rolling a ball back and forth with you, I'm always going to choose the ball.

Happy birthday, little girl. Please don't grow up too fast.




Zach Lute lives with his much more talented wife and much cuter daughter somewhere in the vicinity of Seattle. He has been published nowhere.