Big Daddy

5 03 2007

Annabelle and I have never had as close a bond as her older sister and me. Eliana was a daddy’s girl from the moment I held her in the delivery room. She would lay on my shoulder, content as could be until she had to be changed. She would cry, and I wouldn’t mind because she was so easy to please: change my diaper, feed me, I need to burp.  Eliana seemed to want to be with me all the time as a baby. I remember when I was working in Phoenix, while her and her mother were still in Tucson, how she missed me during the week. One night, I came home and saw her playing. She saw me, and continued to play. I didn’t leave the room for a whole second before she belted out crying. I knew she missed me, and I missed her.

She always enjoyed it when I would rock her to sleep.  Every night, at about 8:30, I would take her to her room, and sit with her in the rocking chair. I would cradle her in my arms and slowly rock her to sleep. I stared at her a lot in those days, as I was still amazed that I was a Dad, and I had a whole life depending on me. Rocking back and fourth, I knew those moments were special, and I missed many of them.

If there ever was a perfect baby, Eliana was it.

And then we had Annabelle. Sleepless nights lasted quite a bit longer than with Eliana. More than year later, we are still dealing with Annabelle waking up in the middle of the night, although, right now it comes far frequently than they did only a month ago. Even with the crying aside, Annabelle and I have not really had much time to get to know each other. For the longest time, it seemed that her favorite was her mother. I was fine with that. I tried to remind myself, that I just need to be there when she needs me.  And now, it seems that time has come.

Recently, Annabelle has started walking. It’s been fun. But at the same time, her acceptance and dependence on me has grown.  It seems that I am the only one who can put her to bed. When her mother tries the same technique, she only squirms and ends up crying. Just tonite, I was in the playroom with both of them, when Annabelle became obviously tired. I told her to come to me (and she responded by walking to me). I picked her up, and sat her on my knee. She immediately leaned forward, and rested her head on my torso. Then, getting ready for sleep, she started to rub her nose in my shirt.  It was a new shirt too.  But, I have many other shirts that have also been recently soiled by her tiny baby nose. She fell asleep in no more than 5 minutes, with the lights on, and a movie playing in the background.

A couple of days ago, I put her to bed, and the last word she said to me was “Daddy” in her petite baby voice. The next morning, after I heard her wake up, I could hear her calling for “Daddy” even before I was in the room. As I walk in the room, and closer toward her, she reaches out for me.

Earlier today, when I arrived home from work, I took Eliana out to ride her bike. Annabelle, I supposed, expected me to take her with us.  This was to be just a trip between Eliana and myself. I was already heading out the door when I caught a quick glimpse of Annabelle in the laundry room with one shoe in her hand.  She usually plays with her shoes, so I thought nothing of it. When I came home, her mom told me how sad she was, and that she seemed to expect to go with us. I felt pretty bad about that, so next time, I’m taking both of them.

As Annabelle has become older, and more aware of other people in her life, namely me and her sister, she has grown to count on us. And me in particular. I will have a tough battle to fight in the coming years with two little precious girls who will undoubtedly do everything they can to get some daddy time.

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