10 years ago tomorrow my life stopped being about what was best for me and switched over to what was best for her, although I had no idea at the time. When Ciera came into the world I was overwhelmed at what was happening and had no clue what I was doing. All I knew was I had this precious little girl who squealed "DADDY!" whenever I came home and I was absolutely positive nobody was any better off than me.
Now I just want someone to tell me where in God's name did the last 10 years go? 'Cause it seems like yesterday I was pushing her in the backyard on a swing and freaking out because she wanted to go higher. Or teaching her how to ride a bike with no training wheels, holding her close in the ER when she was dehydrated from a Rotovirus at 3 in the morning, or trying to explain to a just-turned 3 year old why those airplanes were flying into buildings on 9-11.
I've got memories of reading Junie B. Jones books to her at bedtime so clear in my mind I'd swear they just happened, but I know it was at least 5 years ago when it occurred. Watching her swim the length of the pool after taking swimming lessons, with every nerve in me screaming "JUMP IN AND GET HER; SHE'S GONNA DROWN!" or putting her on my shoulders while we walked in the park; To quote the Dire Straights? "So close, yet so far away."
And so it happened that I spend the majority of this afternoon watching this little girl I love more than anything else, having the time of her life on her birthday surrounded by her friends and her family. Even in between making sure Rakes wasn't pushing some unsuspecting guest into the pool and trying to keep Trot out of the women's restroom, I had enough time to realize something significant was happening.
My baby girl had done gone and grown up on me. And while she's still only 10, it'll never be like it was again. Soon she'll be calling boys on the phone and even worse, boys will be calling her. And little by little, she'll grow up and apart from me in a way that I'm sure will break my heart. One day, she'll be waving goodbye from her car while I'm left standing on the front porch, with tears pretty much like the ones I'm stomping down right now streaming down my face.
I know the fact that I'll be trying to keep Rakes and Trot from winding up in juvie for the next 10 years will take up some of my time, as well as the knowledge that trying to avoid having Angie hit me with a frying pan for my latest idiotic comment will be keeping me busy. Doesn't change the fact that one day, sooner rather than later, there will be a void in my heart that nothing will be able to fill.
But as of today, she's still my Baby Girl.
Happy Birthday, Boo.
Daddy loves you more than you'll ever know.