“Come on this way and stay on the blue paper...”
“Get your camera ready…”
“You have a girl…”
“You ready to cut the umbilical cord?”
Things were happening fast. I wanted to take everything in so that I could remember this moment. I looked down at Debbie, arms strapped down and out to her sides. “I am my Dad” snuck into my brain from somewhere. In my arms, I held a tiny, living, breathing thing and held her forward so that Debbie, kept immobile, could touch our first child.
“We have to take her now. You can go tell your parents. Then, bring your parents and meet us to watch her first bath.”
I find reliving this moment very emotional – the change in our lives, the desire to parent and a step into an unknown future. I went to tell our parents that they have now become grandparents and we all shuffled in to watch Gab’s first bath. She was so small…
It seems as if that was such a short time ago. As I start writing this today, Gab turns 21. TWENTY ONE! Where did the time go?!? When I talk to young parents, I always suggest to them to enjoy their children while they can. Through each phase of their childhood, once that unique phase passes, it is gone forever, and never to be recaptured again. We had the various cameras and video recording devices to “capture the moment.” It is never the same as living in the moment. When Gab was little, I did miss some events due to earning a living to support our family, and Debbie did record the events I missed. I was happy to see my child shine, but not the same as being the proud beaming parent at the event I attended.
At 21, you get your “adult” drivers license in New Jersey. Of greater significance is the ability to hold your head high and walk into a bar to ask for an alcoholic beverage or stroll into a liquor store to buy a bottled or canned beverage. In the olden days, this age was 18, when I first went through this ritual. 21 is the new 18. I remember the rational given at the time for the age change, but still do not understand why you can vote, you are deemed an independent adult and can go to war to “kill” our enemies at 18, but drinking – you are not old enough.
As I finish writing this article, it is almost a week later. Last night, we celebrated as a family and with some friends with dinner and, of course, the alcoholic beverage, so that we could properly toast our 21-year old. No one got drunk, there was no rowdiness and no acts of stupidity to regret the next day. Just a fun night to celebrate one of our little girl’s last step in her passage to adulthood. As parents, we are happy to be able to celebrate this milestone, watching our children grow into adults, proud to see how they are developing their own lives and blessed to be a part of it. It has been a great journey so far for her, and we wish her all the best in the years to come!