I didn’t cry on my wedding day, except for during the Father/Daughter dance at the reception. The rest of the time, I had this ridiculous grin on my face. I was just to stupidly happy. But during that dance, my Daddy was just watching me with this look on his face. I am, and always have been, a Daddy’s girl. While I hadn’t lived at home for a long time when I got married, I knew life was changing. I wasn’t just Daddy’s girl anymore. I was someone’s wife. Watching him watching me made me cry. I asked him why he was looking at me that way. He never answered; he just pulled me closer and we both sniffed our way through the dance. That was16 1/2 years ago.
Yesterday, I was driving the Princess to the dance studio, and my phone pinged with a text. I just saw that it was Daddy, but I didn’t read it. The Princess glanced at it – I’ll often have her read my texts when I’m driving and respond on my behalf – and she asked, “Why is Papa asking something about your wedding?” “I have no idea,” I told her, and I asked her to read it to me. Here’s what it said: “Hi You asked a question at your wedding and I never answered it. It was when we were dancing you asked why I was looking at you all the time. Well I think it’s time to tell you. I just couldn’t understand how a little girl could grow up to be the beautiful woman that you are. I love you. Dad” Made. Me. Cry. Instantly. There was silence in the car. P just looked at me. She had nothing to say either.
I’m beginning to understand that emotion, Daddy. I watch my beautiful girl….the one I remember being so angry at being born, the little girl with the curls I complained about until her brother cut them off, the toddler who called her brother “bruddah” for years, the little princess who was so excited to put on her first leotard (the one with the Disney Princesses on the front) for her first ballet class, the girl who is growing up so quickly right before my eyes. I cried yesterday not because every girl should get a text like that from her Daddy, but because I get it. I’m watching my own little girl grow up into a beautiful woman. I miss that little girl, although I still see glimpses of her in my teenager.
It is one of the greatest gifts of being a parent – watching your child grow up into an amazing young person. I’ve treasured so many moments, stored so many memories in my heart. While she grows up and changes, I will always have that little person with me. I will always see that baby, that toddler, that little girl in her eyes, in her heart. When she dances, I see that little ballerina in her first leotard and tiny ballet slippers leap over the “water”, peek through the window in her plie, and hold the ball in her arms as she did pirouettes.
Someday, I or her Daddy, will send the Princess a text like the one I received yesterday. I’m beginning to understand it Daddy. I love you too.