A day where my daughter and I were capturing memories through the lense of a camera became a day filled with memories so vivid that no camera could do it justice. The pictures are a beautiful addition to the everlasting memories that were made on that day. The events of this day are as fresh in my mind as the day they happened. It was perfect October weather in Vermont. Orange and yellow leaves sparkled off the almost still pond. If there is ever a smell of seasons changing, it was then. It seemed as if something special was going to happen on this day, but what? As we watched a small flock of birds fly from the water singing a beautiful tune, my daughter, who had just turned one and was nestled in my arms, pointed at them, then looked me in the eye, and rambled some incomprehensible sounds that ended with a big beautiful smile directed right at me.
Our photographer then pointed to the nearby dock and said, “There, now is a perfect time to capture you two sitting on the dock.”
Holding my daughter, I walked over to the dock grinning with elation getting our first professional daddy-daughter pictures. I was not expecting what happened next -- a moment that was (and still is) one of the greatest moments I’ve experienced as father. I knelt down to place her on the dock, but just as I tried to do so, she reached up and latched onto my finger. Immediately, she stood up and took a step, then another, and then another, until I had to walk along side of her.
As she took her very first steps, instead of looking ahead to where she was walking, her eyes were fixed on me, with a smile from ear to ear from the greatest joy one could imagine. I didn’t want to draw attention to the photographer during this important milestone, but I was truly hoping she snapped some great shots of this spectacular and proud moment in our lives.
After the photo shoot, I began to ponder on that moment and think what was going through my daughter’s ever so young, but beautiful mind. Here is what I gathered: When your child takes her first steps, and those first steps involve her hands reaching out to you, she is saying, "I trust you, please make sure I'm safe." My daughter had worked up enough mustard to stand, and then held her hands out and said, "I trust you, Dad". These are prominent moments in parenthood, the very moments we as parents don't plan for; they are like unwritten pieces of music, the unscripted moments and melodies, that just happen.
With a soft, but firm grasp of my hand and complete trust and confidence in me to protect her from the unknown, my daughter took her first steps. There are no words to express this feeling of definitively knowing that your child has put her faith and trust in you. No parent, lawyer, or judge could come between us in that moment. It was just us, sharing a connection, a bond. One that would be cherished and strengthened with each day we spent together. I may be in the midst of a ‘battle’ for my daughter, but I am assured that she knows me as her protector. My daughter, without words, gave me this title, and no one can take that away.
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