My daughter is just weeks away from her first birthday, and as I’ve probably said more than a few times, I can barely even remember a life when she wasn’t a part of it. She’s never spoken a sentence to me, we’re not sure yet if she’s a leftie or a rightie, we don’t know her taste in music or sports, and yet she’s absolutely changed my life in ways I couldn’t have imaged twelve months ago (when I thought I knew so much, especially after reading all those books on parenting and babies).
Sure, I was ready for the obvious changes. I knew I’d be getting less sleep. And I was clear on the diapers and the bottles, and the worrying. I knew the house would fill with weird contraptions and toys, and that each and every one of them would come only after an extended period of research and concern: which is the right one? Which activity table is the most, I don’t know, educational? Which play mats are safe?
But I had no idea of the really big changes my daughter would bring (and neither did my wife, who’s experiencing the very same shock). You see, all of a sudden you find yourself kissing your kid’s ears for the four millionth time, you hear her giggle, and you realize that’s pretty much all you want out of life. There are days when I’d actually prefer to change diapers if it means spending time with her. I don’t want to miss anything, and I’ve been told over and over and over and over that it goes so fast. I get that. I’ve seen the progression of a baby’s development and it’s staggering how fast she moves from swaddled, screaming newborn to talkative, personality-filled little girl.
I used to know exactly what I wanted out of life. I knew where I wanted my career to go. Now, not so much. My daughter has taken all my carefully-thought-out priorities and thrown them out the window, like shaking an Etch-a-Sketch. All gone. The media career I was building–with its travel and 24/7 on-call status–well, that no longer works for me. Instead of envisioning a dream life where I’m in a fantastic high profile job, I find myself these days thinking of Irish cottages, beach houses, Tuscan villas. Places where my wife, my daughter and I live and spend our days together. I joke a lot about living on a farm (which is insane if you know anything about me). But I’d love to stay at home.
So if you know anybody who’d be willing to pay me to take care of their Tuscan villa, would you send me the info? It’d make a great first birthday gift for my daughter.