Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A decade of Anna


"Anna" is another word for "life-changer." At least that's been my experience. I can still remember the shirt I was wearing to the hospital, ten years ago today, when Robin had her. I've written here before about her hearing my voice. If you'll indulge me to quote myself, it serves as an introduction, the first time I met Anna:

"When our daughter Anna was born, her left arm was a little slow to get moving. The doctors weren't overly concerned--this can happen to a C-Section born baby--but they noted it, and I went with them as they rolled her down the hospital hallway into a room to check her vitals and her arm. She didn't care for being prodded and was screaming (those who know her can attest to her lung capacity) over the doctors and nurses, until I talked to calm her. When I spoke she fell immediately quiet and moved her head and unfocusing eyes toward my voice. She stayed quiet while I spoke and the nurse commented that she knew and responded to my voice (read to your babies in bellies). Homegirl (Anna, not the nurse) had the keys to the car from there. I knew from that second, and holding her looking out our hospital room window that night as she slept that there was nothing cooler than being a dad. I've thought so countless times since."

All the moments and milestones since and my mind hangs on that moment the longest. A decade moment. A lifetime moment.

I have said before that I have enjoyed every year of our girls' lives more than the previous year, just watching them grow and learn and seeing who they become. That's true still. But your child hitting double digits gives you pause. Fuck "gives" you, it MAKES you pause.

My life over the last decade has been co-defined. Many of my greatest moments are moments Anna made--things she said or did or thought or spoke.

I have cried more, been more emotional over the last decade. Many of the tears are the good kind, but that depth of experience, of experience shared with a soul/person in your care, growing and changing and looking to me/us for opinion, answers, solace, laughter. Perhaps I neglected to read the "free tear duct fill-up with birth of baby" sign.

Over the last decade, I have watched more kids movies than I ever thought possible. I have learned the names of toys and books and TV characters because, well, that's how I roll.

Over the last decade, I have seen myself, outside myself. Anna is a morning person, like me (Ava prefers sleep, like Robin). Anna and I share some of the same hang-ups, same tendencies, same inclinations. I'm not sure what to say about recognizing yourself in another, but it is an experience without parallel.

Over the last decade, I have gained a respect, admiration and sense of wonder about my father, my parents, and how the hell they raised and dealt with us (me, really, my sister was much easier) and seemed to always be in control. We, as parents, certainly do not.

I think it's fair to call the last ten years, the decade of Anna in our house and our lives. Over that time, she has given me a new identity, a new responsibility, a new perspective and a new name: Dad. I think it is my favorite of my names.

Happy 10th birthday, Anna! Can't wait to see where you/we go next.