Dear Malin Reese,
I’m up at 11:52 p.m. the night before we head to Phoenix for your first birthday party. In less than 2 hours, you’ve officially lived 1 whole year. I remember a lot about the day before your birthday but not so much about the day you were actually born. Your first day on earth was a proverbial blur for me and I’m kinda bummed to say that. Mom was admitted to the hospital at about 3 p.m. On January 22nd. The previous two hours at home were a little scary. Mom was hunched over on our bed having some pretty intense contractions. She was making the sort of noise that I would have made to make light of someone having contractions. It was primal and raw sounding and the exact moment when I thought, “Oh shit, this is really happening”. Then, you decided to hang out for the next 10 hours while your Mom made the delivery her bitch, only deciding to slip and slide to freedom after her second epidural had nearly worn all the way off. It’s odd to reflect back and realize our lives changed at 1:47 a.m. On January 23rd, 2013. But they did and I’ll be damned if I’m going to ever forget the details of another one of your birthdays from here on out.
I’m writing this letter today not only as a memento to remember this milestone but also to let you know what I want to improve on as your Dad over the next year. Real quick though; the main reason we are flying down for your first birthday is because of your crazy grandmothers. I’ve mentioned it before but one of them threatened to Taser me in the nasty bits if we didn’t come home for Christmas and your birthday and the other one grew up in a third world country among hardship we will never know. I think my point is that she’d have no problem cutting me. Having said that, here are two (among many) areas I want to improve on for the second year of your life.
BE ENGAGED ALL THE TIME
For the most part I’m proud of the effort I put in to being your Dad. Most days, I come home and act like a clown for you while you bounce from one corner of the house to the next. By the time you’re ready for bed, I usually am too and we settle into a sort of slow burn on the way to sleepy time. Admittedly, during this time, I lay on your floor and filter through Facebook or tool around on ESPN, while you find two or three objects in your room to contemplate. A good twenty minutes passes before you make it known you are officially ready for bed. In those twenty minutes, I’m oblivious to what you are doing. As long as you’re not falling down the stairs or catching on fire, I’m zoned out. And then I think to myself, Why? I could be watching you discover new things or reading you a book and instead I feel like I’m owed those twenty mindless minutes. The truth is, I owe those twenty minutes to you.
BE A BETTER HUSBAND
This one is tricky. On one hand, I am hyper aware of how lucky I am to call your Mom my wife. Our story isn’t perfect but there’s so much love packed into our history and I don’t take that for granted for a second. I also don’t take for granted that she birthed you. She’s tough as nails and delivered you with her trademark grit but she also did it while showing a vulnerability I didn’t know existed. Now she’s officially a Mom and I’ve loved watching her become something she was so incredibly nervous about becoming. There’s a danger though in just viewing her as your Mom because she was my wife first and sometimes I tend to forget that. The way I think about her, sappy or not, can’t only be shaped around what kind of mother she is to you. She’s also a beautiful, dynamic, incredibly smart girl. (In May, she’ll be 30 and I’ll start calling her a lady). I need to do a better job of letting her know that I see her that way too. This might call for a few more date nights away from you but I can assure you, for the time being, none of these date nights will end up with you being a big sister. And you can help us out by continuing to be the prodigal baby so we don’t feel bad about leaving you with a babysitter. Your Mom deserves this from me so thanks in advance for the help.
I’ll repeat to you what I wrote in my very first letter. Being your Dad is the single greatest privilege I’ll ever know in my life. The first year has been hectic and gratifying and challenging but ultimately perfect. Malin Reese, I love you to the end of time.
Dad of a beautiful little girl. Husband to an amazing woman. Son and sibling of a perfectly weird and wonderful family.