My Dearest Abigail,
We’ve shared many firsts, you and I. Your diaper was the first one I ever changed, in a hospital room, unsure of myself. You’re the first child I ever sang to sleep, holding you in my arms so small and fresh and strange. You are the first, best thing I ever did. Your sister is the second, in order, not in magnitude. I’m sorry, but that’s a tie. You are the first child I argued with, the first one to give me a bloody nose. The first one who I taught to blow her nose.
You have been the first to experience my strange choices as a father. My weird lullaby’s about the French Foreign Legion, and vengeful mariners. My insistence that you not watch Barney (this still chafes, I fear). I have made missteps with you that I won’t make with your sister. I’ve lost my patience with you and learned things from our relationship that have made me a better father for both of you girls. I hope you won’t begrudge Kate, and I hope you’ll forgive me for my shortcomings.
We are in this thing together. Though I always tell you that I’m here to take care of you, and you have nothing to worry about when you’re with me, you worry still. I see it in the lines of your forehead, in the solemn stare. I know you’re a worrier, but you don’t need to be. When you fall, I will get you on your feet.
When you’re all grown up, you might realize that a lot of the time you’re unsure of yourself. A lot of the time you won’t know how you should act, you’ll question what you just said or what you’re about to say, you’ll wonder if you fit in. You may even wonder who you are. It’s okay to feel unsure, it’s normal to be confused sometimes. One day, you’ll learn who you are. And the next day it’ll change. That’s okay, too. My dear, I’m unsure of myself, almost every day, and even though I’ve made mistakes in parenting you, you have given me this gift: I am never unsure of myself with you. Whatever else I might be, whether I’m a blessing to everyone I meet, or a curse, a success or a failure, anything life sends my way, I am always sure of myself when it comes to you. I will always be your daddy, and few things in life fit me so well.
We have a lot of firsts ahead of us. I’m sorry that you have to be my test subject when it comes to parenting. I promise to always admit when I’m wrong. I promise that, even though it’ll be hard sometimes, you’ll never be alone. You’ll never have to do it by yourself. I’ll always be here, for you.
Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. I hate to see you getting older, but I love to see you growing. I wish you could stay, forever, as you are now, and I can’t wait to see the young woman you’re going to become.
You have my heart and all of my love,