That little baby and the whole bundle of excitement culminating in that feeling of “This is it!”. It still felt as fresh as if it had happened yesterday. I remember when my mum came to the hospital and visited J, she had that baffled look in her face and asked quite sheepishly, “You sure you got the right baby? She is not very pretty you know”. I was sure not too happy with that question, but hey, she is my mother. Truth be told, IÂ didn’t actually really care what other people thought, no, not even my mother. In my eyes, J was as pretty as any baby could be and I was really proud of her. I became quite a well known figure in the intensive care unit amongst the nurses as I was in and out of it every other few hours just to catch a sight of my little girl.
12 years on, J is on the verge of becoming a teenager. No more milk bottles to grapple with, no more diapers to change, no more sleep disruption and struggling with opening and closing of prams. They are all a thing of a past. Instead, I have need to learn new skills to interact and connect with a young lady. More than ever, I need to learn how to be a better father, to teach, to nurture and to encourage her to be the best that she can be.
J is now almost reaching my shoulder in terms of height. When I watch her skating on the ice-rink, watching her smiles and giggles, I know my little baby is growing up faster than I would have wanted. I wish I had treasured the last 12 years a whole lot more than I did. I wish I had done a lot more things better and avoided some of the big mistakes made. I wish I had given more attention, care and affection to J. However hard I wish, I can can not change a single iota. All is etched permanently in the great big nebulous concept known as memory.
I can, however, try to change today and the things I choose to do. I can learn to treasure tomorrow and every other day that God gives me to continue my privilege of being a father. I need to stop thinking that there is always tomorrow to do or say something worthwhile to J. I need to do all I can while it is called today.
I know there will be fathers out there who can echo my thoughts on how fast our children seem to be growing up. I cannot know for a certainty what tomorrow may bring. But one thing I know, J will always be my precious little baby, and I am thankful for that. Make today count.