well...it was bound to happen.
i grew up.
i know that you feel it happened too quickly, that it feels like you blinked and i went from fragile infant to a still-fragile-yet-stronger, rolly-polly, gregarious, fearless big girl.
i remember how worried you were in the first three months of my little life; worried that i might not make it just after birth; worried that one night you'd wake up and i would be gone. i strained to breath. you nearly lost me in the beginning. so, you would tip toe into my room, sometimes three or four times a night, just to make sure i was breathing. you were always there for me.
i remember all of the times this past year that you worked with me on my exercise ball, helped me ride my Rody Pony, assisted me with exercises to strengthen my abs so i could sit up, hold myself up, bend to the side, and eat. you have been there for so many physical, speech, occupational, and special education therapy sessions.
you have become an expert massage therapist; learning all of the techniques my massage therapist taught you for helping me with my low muscle tone.
you have spent countless hours holding me as i slurp loudly at my bottle, pursing my little cheeks so i could get the right suction. you have prepared hot cereal and fruit for my breakfasts, steamed and seasoned veggies for my lunch, found low-mercury fish like salmon and prepared it for me for my dinners. you don't expose me to sugary or unhealthy food because you love me and want me healthy.
you have sung "the ants go marching" a thousand times because for some reason, that like no other song seems to lull me to sleep.
you have patiently held me when my tummy was writhing in pain because of my gastric reflux and my dairy protein intolerance.
you have played with drums and tambourines and triangles to teach me rythm and your fondness of music.
you have exposed me to your favorite jazz and blues artists. i have sat quietly and adoringly as you strummed your guitar for me and sang.
i have stared up into your chocolate brown eyes and felt calmed as you read one of my favorite dr. seuss books.
you make the best bubble baths ever and teach me to catch the bubbles and play with my yellow ducks.
you have rocked me to sleep. you have cuddled me. you have held me so close that i have felt safe and secure.
you have walked me through the house, through the neighborhood, on the local trails, in other states and other countries, teaching me the world. you have showed me what trees and leaves and flowers look and smell like.
you have kept me calm during countless doctor's appointments - from the ent to the neurologist, from the nurse administering my vaccines to the geneticist, you have been there by my side.
you were waiting for me after surgery and sang to me quietly, saying shhhhh, shhhh, shhhh, until i did.
you work so hard so i don't have to. you are there for me every morning, you work all day, you go to school in the evenings and you love my mama with all of your heart. sometimes you even walk the doggies and make us all dinner! you are amazing.
you make me feel loved and nurtured and cared for.
you ensure that every day of my life is one of as much joy and hope and calmness and love as possible.
you are with me and for me.
you are my dada. and, i love you with all that i am.