Sunday, June 17, 2012

Letter to Walt on Father's Day

Dear Walter,

Happy Father's Day!

Let me back up a little bit. Walter, you are so blessed.  One of the ways you are especially blessed is with male role models: men who love you, pray for you, and take great joy and pride in you as you grow. You have a wonderful Daddy; two wonderful Grandpas; three wonderful uncles (Jimmy, Brian and Matthew) and  many wonderful "appended" uncles (Ben, Curtis, John and Josh come to mind.) But, as I think about Father's Day, I'm thinking especially much about two of the most important men in your life and mine: your daddy, who is my husband, and my daddy, who is your Grandpa Paul.

Sometimes when you're getting a little rowdy with me--pulling hair is a new favorite, as is stealing glasses and engaging in high intensity zumba moves while nursing--your daddy will talk to you in a soothing voice, reminding you to be gentle with your mommy.  He started doing that even before you were born, during those last months of pregnancy when you seemed to be aiming your feet right at my kidney.  He would put his hand on my belly, get really close to you and say, "Walter, Walter.  Settle down.  Be nice to Mommy," and you'd feel the warmth and weight of his hand, and hear his voice, and you'd settle down.

Sleeping soundly on Daddy
Daddy rocks you and walks with you at night; when you're sick or teething or just can't sleep.  You hold onto him very close and tight like a little baby monkey, hanging on with your hands and feet and whole little self.  He sings to you--all sorts of songs, but especially "Rainbow Connection."  He makes up games to make you laugh and smile at times when you're sad or scared or nervous.  When you were very little you didn't like having your diaper changed and you'd scream and cry like the world was about to end.  Then Daddy started playing the "blast off" game.  He'd say "One ... two ... three ... blast off!" and hit a button that made the changing table vibrate.  You'd stop crying and smile; soon you would start anticipating the game and get happy as soon as he said the word "One ..."  When you had a new diaper and were all dressed again he'd lift you up high in the air and say, "Good job, little astronaut!"

More recently, Daddy invented a game we play while we're feeding you.  We choose one letter of the alphabet and come up with a new word for each spoonful you eat, repeating the first sound until you open your mouth. For example: (Spoon approaching your mouth) Ah-ah-ah-ah (spoon enters your mouth) alternator! This game is a lot of fun for us, and we think you like it, too.

Daddy loves to pick you up and hug you. "My boy!" he says, "Oh, I love my boy!" Walter, I've said this before and I'm going to say it again and again: you are loved.  And your Daddy loves you so much: not just when you two are playing and hugging and having fun, but also when he's putting saline in your nose when you're all stuffed up, when he's changing your massively poopy diapers, when you're pulling out his chest hair, when you're fighting sleep and when you're mad at the world. He loves you then, too, and he sticks with you and holds you and says in that soothing voice you've known since you could hear your first sounds, "Walter ... Walter .... It's OK, buddy. It's OK."

So happy with Grandpa Paul!
You love Grandpa Paul's voice, too.  You love to put your head on his chest and listen to his heartbeat and his voice.  You've been doing that since you were born, and you always get this faraway look in your eyes, like you are being transported to a calm, happy place.  You look up at him with this pure look of awe and adoration--it's a look you really only give to him, a special loving gaze just for Grandpa Paul. When he leaves the room, you're distraught (we came up with a new rule during this week of vacation together: Grandpa Paul  never leaves the room.)  When he enters the room, you giggle and grin with pure joy and raise your arms up into the air, asking him to pick you up and snuggle you.

I remember it took me a long time to realize and understand that my Umma was my mom's mom, so this concept might be a little advanced for you, but it's true: your Grandpa Paul is my daddy.  He held me up to his chest when I was a baby, and I felt (and feel, still) safe and happy there just like you do.  When I see you and Grandpa Paul together it makes me appreciate my daddy more than ever, and seeing the way he loves you makes me realize how much he loves me, too.*

Dropper feeding
Your first week of life was so hard.  Daddy and Grandma Sue had to go back to work and I was very sick and couldn't do much to help you.  Your Grandpa Paul took care of both of us. One of the things he did a lot of was dropper feed you a couple ounces of formula or expressed breast milk so I could have a break and get some rest.  Dropper feeding is really slow, difficult work.  It takes a long time and a lot of patience.

This Father's Day, I'm thinking of your Grandpa Paul, operating on very little sleep himself, leaning over you with his pinky in your mouth, patiently feeding you drop by drop.  That image communicates a lot of what you and I both love so much about him, and also how lucky we are to have him in our lives.  Grandpa Paul is so generous--a wonderful trait that my daddy and your daddy have in common.

Walter, you and I have a lot in common.  We have the same mouth and the same dimpled chin.  We have big, enthusiastic personalities and we never do anything halfway. But what we're celebrating today is something else we have in common: we have generous, loving, devoted, funny, creative, wonderful wonderful fathers. So, a happy Father's Day to your daddy and to my daddy, and to you and me, too.  We are so lucky, we are so blessed.

Happy Father's Day!
Your mommy, your daddy's wife and your Grandpa Paul's daughter
Father's Day 2011

Father's Day 2012

*I need to mention, here, that your Grandma Sue is pretty incredible, too, and in fact while I was writing this she coaxed a very cranky baby (you) to sleep with nothing but her beautiful voice, her comforting arms and her incredible love for you.  But I missed my chance to write a proper Mother's Day post this year, so that blogged appreciation will have to be spread out across other posts on other days. Kind of an extended Mother's Day, where we can make it last extra long. =)


Kathy said...

Beautiful Anne! Thanks for sharing Walter with us via Facebook!
Walter and Anne have been blessed with their Daddys!

Lisa Ramsey said...

What a lovely post, Anne. I truly enjoy reading your blog.