Seventeen if She’s a Day

My first daughter, Grace, was born into student housing. Long ago. Cinder blocks on a slab that drew no sunlight 85% of the day. Bad maintenance and spotty heat. But in the summer would heat up like a brick pizza oven. We ran the window a/c so high one summer that our dwarf hamster froze to death in his cage. But, as a young family we were glad to have it. Glad to have a home, our education in place, a healthy new baby. She had her own room, we had cable and our own parking spaces. I remember thinking, for a short time, that we had it all. Especially when there was still money left for food and diapers. There wasn’t (thanks, Mama!).

One of my heros, Neil Simon, passed away recently and I was thinking about a part of his book Memoirs. Where he talks about the first apartment he and his wife had in New York. How expensive everything was, how broke they were. How small. How the ceiling would pour water. And they’d lay close together just to keep warm. And he was wise enough later in life to realize that, in their life together, the two of them had never been happier. Than when they were struggling. How he grew to miss what now seemed like ‘the easy years’ comparatively. The good years.

I think of these old days. The tiny victories of finding ‘good’ clothes at Goodwill so my toddler would look nice at daycare. Taking parts from one Ford Probe and sticking them in the other just to Frankenstein together one car good enough to keep us on the road. Figuring out how insurance worked in urgent care for a baby with a double ear infection on Christmas eve. Making Christmas a ‘thing’ period. And I still laugh at that young feeling that you’ve really made it once you finally have a place of your own big enough for a Christmas tree that doesn’t have to sit up on a piece of furniture. We didn’t. Not then. And it was great.

But everything is relative. You can’t see or truly embrace these simple beauties when you’re living them. You tend to forget them…once your Christmas tree is sitting on the floor. Once you’re on to the next struggle. Once you level up.

When I see my child now, in these old pictures, I’m torn. I see how sweet her childhood truly was. How safe. But I also see everything that was still coming. The pain ahead of her. The things she would have to learn to carry for all time. And all I want to do is protect her. From all of it. To hold these pictures tight for all the times I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold her. The eventual times where she would have everything she ever wanted, but nothing she so desperately needed.

It isn’t often I revisit those first years. In the past when I have, It’s always been in times of great struggle. And grief. Times when I wished most for those old simplicities that I couldn’t see then. Times that taught you that love and protection really were all that mattered. When that was all that you had and it was plenty. The things you didn’t know then. The things we forget once we level up.

Today, when I see these pictures, it’s no longer in reminiscing for that ‘simplicity’. Or in what we believe, later, to be so charmingly uncomplicated. Even relatively. It’s in pride, and embracing the whole of the storm we withstood.

And all these years later, I no longer stand in front of her to protect her from hurt. I no longer stand behind her oblivious to her pain. I stand with her now. We have made one another stronger. Both well aware that we saved each other. We won’t have to get years out to see it. She’ll be ready when she lets go of my hand. This time for the right reasons.

Happy Birthday. Level up, Baby Girl.
Dad

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44 thoughts on “Seventeen if She’s a Day

  1. She looks like you. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’Ÿ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She dooooes! 😭😭😭😭😭 Our pics from this age are so similar. Especially in Paleness ranking and eyebrows.

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      1. Oh for God’s sake πŸ™ƒ…she is cute! Or was, I’m sure she’s beautiful now at 17.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Annnnnnd I’m crying….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😭😭😭 I couldn’t even see by the time I pressed the button!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 😭😭😭 I’ve done that before. All the feeeeeeels!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sweet post. ❀
    Happy birthday Grace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—

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  4. I hope you share this post with her, Sam. She deserves to see the love you have for her, and how beautifully you write about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€— In order to sufficiently embarrass her, she has stacks and stacks of cards and letters through the years that she’s saved with me gushing to her, lol! 😍😍😍

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And God willing she will be able to say the same someday about her own life and family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I’m hoping her memories will be more good than bad 😣😣😣

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  6. Grace has been graced with a heart-centred, loving dad. Happy birthday to Grace. And happy birth-day reminiscings to you πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€— It’s today finally, and thankfully we’re waiting for the weekend to have her party!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Happy birthday to Grace. And hope the party is a blast x

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post. Just beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nadia Czarina Mae January 9, 2019 — 7:54 pm

    This one is so heart warming ❀️ and oh boy, why does she look so much like you, like really 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She does 😍😍😍 Thank you so much, my friend! (Just an aside, your icon/gravatar is still attached to your old ‘clouds’ site and won’t link me to your page *cry*! But I can still see your posts in the readerπŸ‘Œ)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nadia Czarina Mae January 15, 2019 — 4:50 pm

        Really? Woah. I’ll try to fix that! Thank you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it worked πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  9. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter. All the feels! Makes me think about my own boys when they were babies. Those were the best times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I love thinking back to these ‘easy days’ 😊😊😊 It gives me so much perspective on the present!

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  10. Happy Birthday to your young lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! She’s finally official today, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy Birthday to your daughter Sam. What a great Dad you are! Lovely post…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Janie! Now to figure out party plans for the weekend since I have no option to hide, lol.

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      1. Enjoy every special moment Sam!! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy Birthday to your daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. There’s a lot of sweet memories and love in that post. I hope she has a wonderful birthdayβ€πŸŽ‚πŸŽˆ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Today will be low key but she’s devising plans for the weekend as we speak I’m sure! πŸ˜­πŸ’²πŸ˜­πŸ’²πŸ˜­ (I couldn’t find the emoji for money flying away)

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      1. Awwwwwwe!!! Of course she is😍 and tears and dollar signs are all you needed πŸ˜‚.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No…I’ll need flying moneybags too πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ The good thing is as she’s gotten older I don’t feel like it’s so “party” based. She can decide or ask what she’d like barring a few surprises….the little one though, I think we’ve exhausted every birthday venue in Southeast Michigan!

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          1. I think it’s easier in that sense, as they get older. I hear a road trip brewing. What better excuse? Her birthday, you guys know the area too well now…..yeah, money bagsπŸ’°πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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            1. She’s been suspiciously quiet about her plans. I think we’re both okay with a QUIET shopping spree somewhere….long as I don’t have to drive to the gd Lego mall again! (πŸ β›½πŸš—πŸš¦πŸš§πŸ˜­πŸ§..πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ˜…πŸ€”…πŸ˜­πŸš§πŸš¦πŸš—β›½πŸ )

              Liked by 1 person

            2. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ But there is just so much at the Lego mall! If it’s the one I’m thinking about. A quiet shopping spree sounds perfect. πŸ™ŒπŸΎ

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            3. There is a LOT there, but getting there is THA*WORST! I yell at the gps the whole way!! Then when I went to leave in a HUGE city, I couldnt get a satellite signal to take a better way home??? Last time we went to Sealife it kept routing me circularly on and off freeways! It’s like the Bermuda Triangle ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️

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            4. Hahahaha πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I loved the drive there….set aside from hitting a dear and the whole side of the car being smeared with dear poop. I was also coming from a totally different direction. I love that crowded Meijer…..just the book area. I hate that lady on the GPS. She thinks she knows everything. πŸ˜‘πŸ˜€ Wench.

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            5. I haven’t hit a deer in almost 4 years. I think I’m due! 🦌🦌🦌

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            6. No! It’s so horrible! 😲😲😲 The poo smell lingers, like skunk. 😷

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            7. I have no idea, I relinquished the car to the dealer ASAP! 🦌

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