Today is Ariaâ€™s FIRST Birthday.
One year ago today, we were introduced to our beautiful daughter Aria Leigh. Joining her big brother Colin and two pups, Abby and Chatham, Aria completed our nuclear family. Itâ€™s such a clichÃ© but oh-so true, sheâ€™s Daddyâ€™s Little Girl â€“ even if she practically leaps from my arms to be with her Mom the moment the slightest whisper of Andiâ€™s voice crests the air.
From her very first day upon this Earth, Aria immediately proved herself to be quite punctual, arriving to the very day of her designated birth date â€“ and as an added bonus â€“ well before dinner time. None of those burning the midnight oil maternity ward stays for us this time (the less I have to see of Last Call with Carson Daly, the better).
May 31, 2005 began like every other day â€“ well every other day in which a husband and wife are frantic with anticipation that this moment, of all moments, will be the moment that our baby arrives (not that every parent doesnâ€™t dream of appearing live on the FOX Ten Oâ€™Clock News with their I-95 Baby). So after chomping down our breakfast, we popped into the docâ€™s office for our routine weekly visit. Within moments of meeting with the doctor we were told to “clear the deck” (or was it “hit the deck”) and get to a hospital ASAP. We were situated in the birthing room by 12:00 p.m., settled in for a marathon session of Dawsonâ€™s Creek (â€œthat Pacey is soooooooo dreamy!!!â€), ordered up His and Her epidurals, had a baby, ordered Chinese â€“ and were done well before Dancing With The Stars. It was a whirlwind day, for sure.
Again, I borrow from clichÃ©, but the last year has been a real blur â€“ flying by in no time (I swear that this rapid acceleration of the Physical Laws of Time and Space is a conspiracy whipped up by my progeny to rid me of my precious hair â€“ alas, my beloved golden locks.)
Back to the topic, Andi and I have noticed that Aria seems to be following her brotherâ€™s lead, aiming to ape his movements in a bid to grow up just a wee bit faster. To that end, I caution my darling daughter to take it easy and enjoy the ride. All right â€“ so there is probably some selfishness on display here. Itâ€™s just so much easier when you place a child somewhere and return to find them in the exact same spot you left them. You try explaining to your wife how your child ended up on top of the MIT dome. (Damnâ€™d frat boy pranks!!!)
Anyway, Aria will have none of this paternal meddling. Sheâ€™s marching to her own beat and judging by the rapid manner in which sheâ€™s hitting the major milestones, I hazard a guess that itâ€™s Electric Boogaloo. This theory was evidenced over this past Memorial Day weekend when we loaded the fam up for a pre-summer visit to our favorite local ice cream palace, Udderly Delicious. Andi was attending to Aria, giving her spoonfuls of vanilla frozen yogurt, when Aria pushed Andiâ€™s hand away. At first we thought she was playing and then figured she was letting us know she had had enough. When she grabbed the spoon from Andiâ€™s hand, uttered a terse (yet precociously cute) â€œStep off, woman!!!â€Â and began dipping the spoon into her cup and feeding herself, we realized how swiftly temporary amnesia can take hold. Weâ€™d seen it once before (with Colin) but somehow the notion slipped our collective minds. She was feeding herself. She was (hereâ€™s where we pause to suppress a tear)â€¦ growing up.
Tempus fugit. Time flies, baby.
Aria has also developed an affinity for feeding her pups from the dinner table, leading to their banishment to the backyard whenever a tray of strained peas makes it before her eyes. (Hereâ€™s a little tid-bit pups. If Andi insists on feeding me fish on a weekly basis â€“ you seek out my spot at the dinner table and Iâ€™ll hook yaâ€™ up.) Aria employs the â€œone-for-you, one-for-meâ€ method of sharing, although every so often a handful of food enters her mouth and then quickly exits â€“ still clutched in her tiny little hand â€“ and is diverted to the ravenous snouts. Which wouldnâ€™t be so bad if it werenâ€™t for the fact that more often than not, the situation plays in reverse, with a handful of food finding itself inserted in the canine cake hole before being extracted and brought back to Ariaâ€™s mouth. Thankfully, weâ€™re there to play Border Patrol and stop this illegal activity from transpiring. Kibble for the dogs. Beef Jerky for the baby. Thatâ€™s the natural order. Call it one of those circle of life kindaâ€™ things.
I know Iâ€™ve been a bit scattershot in celebrating my little girl, but thatâ€™s how these first years run. Theyâ€™re so unpredictable â€“ so off the map. Even if you are not wise to take heed of your Frost, youâ€™re bound to follow that road less traveled. And that, therein, is the beauty to having children. Youâ€™re waiting on fast ball but get delivered a knuckle-slurve, sending you reeling towards the backstop while they hand deliver your pooch another mouthful of Teddy Grahams.
A lot has happened in this past year. My daughter has gone from a fragile infant to precocious toddler and in her eyes and on her beaming countenance I see the first signs of Spring â€“ of â€˜little girlâ€™ â€“ beginning to bloom.
As I fondly muse upon Ariaâ€™s first word (it was Easter time and the word was â€œeggâ€) I think back to the great first words the maternity nurse imparted upon me at the exact moment Aria was born.
â€œItâ€™s a girl. Youâ€™re going to be able to walk her down the aisle some day.â€
That sentiment really got me, put it all in perspective and wrapped up a life ahead of infinite possibility in a bright, shiny bow. And then of course, I got to thinking. Itâ€™s a girl? Walk down the aisle? Wait a second. Hold on a tick. That infers sheâ€™s going to have to dateâ€¦ someone!!!
I reckon, Iâ€™m gonnaâ€™ have to get me a shotgun.
Happy Birthday, Aria Leigh.