At the end of last school year, someone asked you why you were lucky. Without any prompting, you said, “Because I have a daddy that stays home with me during the summer?” That warmed my heart.
You see, summers are precious to me. Historically, it has been when we can explore things together, relax, play outside, run from the ice cream man, watch goofy TV, laugh at the wind, ride bikes, and much more.
It’s also a time I take too many pictures – OK, Mommy and I always take too many pictures, but I think that is merely a byproduct by our fascination with the enigmatic story that is you, that is unfolding, daily, right before our eyes.
And so I take pictures, too many pictures, so I can remember some of the little things. They may not be monumental like your first step or first word. Sometimes they are pictures of you sleeping on my chest because I will never forget how you snuggled me as a baby. We took the best naps. Or sometimes we are simply sitting peacefully enjoying the outdoors.
You have always enjoyed boats and water – those are some of my favorite memories with you. And that has taken some getting used to as the outdoors aren’t exactly my favorite place to be. But you love it. The tranquility of nature meshed with the wonder and excitement expressed on your face has made it worth it to me.
We take a lot of pictures, your mother and I, because we want to remember. I want to remember you smile in the wind, your outfit on your first day of dance class, the time you tried to put the leash on the dog and somehow wound up all tangled.
I want to remember the smell of stale Honey Nut Cheerios that we kept packed in your diaper bag (but you rarely ate). I want to remember our trips to the doughnut store, how you danced in your car seat every time Michael, Stevie, and (for a brief period) Elvis came on the radio.
I want to remember the late nights that I held you and ran the vacuum trying to get you to sleep. The midnight trips in the car, the barefoot walks with the dog, the look on your face when the ice cream truck’s music suddenly became audible.
I do not wish you to stop growing even though I joke about it with you each time you outgrow clothes. That would be unfair to you and your journey of which I am blessed to be a small part of.
I know someday, and probably too soon, you will grow into your own purpose and potential. And when that day comes, I hope that I am strong enough not to begrudge fate, but to simply continue to stand in your corner and cheer. But when that day comes, I hope to remember all the little things we have done – the laughs, the tears, the silent moments, the food, the family, and when you were small enough to fall asleep on my shoulder.
I hope to remember it all, and I hope you remember some, too.
A version of this first ran on Tales from the Poop Deck.