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A father’s message to the birthday girl — Jason A. Smith

Jason A. Smith covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.

Jason A. Smith covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.

For many people I’ve talked to in recent days, 2011 was a year which went by too quickly.

Some have told me they didn’t achieve certain goals they had set for themselves, and others are holding out hope that 2012 will be better for them.

As for me, I have a hard time imagining a more life-changing year than the one which just ended.

As I write this, my wife and I are preparing to celebrate our little girl’s first birthday this week. The past year has contained more pivotal moments than I could have ever dreamed of putting into a single 12-month period, all of which have come rushing back to me in the last few days.

It all started last January with a call from my wife, telling me she was going to the hospital to be monitored because something about the baby’s condition was causing concern for the doctors.

I rushed to the hospital, just in time for us to be told the baby would need to be born within the next hour.

When I first laid eyes on the child — who weighed less than four pounds — she was one of the tiniest babies I’d ever seen, and was certainly the most beautiful. I studied her face relentlessly, partially to see who she resembled more — me or my wife — and partially because I simply couldn’t look away.

She was so small, and so strong.

Since that time, we have seen our daughter grow and change so much. She’s still on the tiny side, somewhat, but most people would likely never guess she had any challenges when she was born.

From the first time we saw her roll over on her own, to her first few teeth coming in, to her first time holding a bottle without assistance to feed herself, her mother and I have watched our baby grow more independent, on what seems to be a daily basis.

Within the last two weeks, she has even started walking. And yes, my daughter is officially getting into everything she can.

She hasn’t quite grasped the concept that when Daddy says, “No, don’t grab that,” it doesn’t mean, “Do it slowly, and that’s OK.”

She is definitely our child.

I’ve got a ton of stories like that, but the bottom line is, the whole year has left me in awe. I’m constantly mesmerized by my amazing little girl, and I’m utterly dumbfounded by the way God has provided for her needs and ours since she entered our lives.

I still have a lot to learn about being a father. One thing I’ve learned over the past year is that I’ll never have it completely figured out.

But, I honestly cannot imagine life without her, and I want to be the kind of man whose child never doubts his love for her.

So, happy birthday, little girl.

I hope you get all the gifts a child of your age could ever want or need.

More than that, though, I hope you know what a gift from God you are to me, and to your mother.

Jason A. Smith covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.