Pastels and Butterflies
The first newborn I was ever around for more than 30 seconds was my own daughter. I was a young firefighter, who was equal parts terrified, excited and overwhelmed. I was used to being the center of my own universe. Confident and independent. Shift work afforded me with additional down time alone than I would ever get with the typical 40-hour workweek. I filled it with naps, second jobs, gigging, fitness and leisure time. Having a newborn felt like it ripped my life from under me and replaced it with a full time responsibility that was beyond my capacity and comfort zone. From sleepless nights and diapers, to a felling that I had just grown a permanent additional appendage, having a baby girl left me with little time for anything else.
While I resisted at first, desperately clinging to what was familiar the second nap time afforded me minutes of peace, there was a subconscious shift taking place. When I would rush for golf with friends, or a night out, I’d miss her almost immediately. As she grew I was developing new interests instead, such as mastering the French braid, or the reward based salesmanship of potty training. She became my world; everything that I would look forward to when leaving for shift after a long night of medical emergencies.
I was truly saying “So Long” to my old life, and replacing it with pastels and butterflies. I didn’t miss all the free time I had so much of before.
One day, while in a tiny town called Speicher, Germany, she and I decided to take a walk together and enjoy some fresh air and daddy/daughter time. It was a beautiful day in late May, and the cherry trees were just starting to bear fruit. I was lifting her up over my head to find the biggest ones that were the most ready. We sat down with our spoils and began the art of cherry consumption without pits. Sometimes you bite around them, sometimes you go all in and gently gnaw the whole cherry, before spitting out the pit. We made faces, laughed, and buried a couple of our pits to check on at a later date.
In my 28 years of life, I had yet to experience a moment quite as beautiful. It was as if I was in a dream of which I never wanted to wake. Perfect breeze, answering all her silly questions; where had this been my whole life? I was watching her bury the pits and educate me on how deep they need to be to grow, and asked “What took you so long?”
Someday soon, I’d like to go back with her and check on our trees.