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I loved you before you were here.

I don’t know how. While moms have an automatic, chemical attachment to the bundle of cells floating around in her abdomen, dads aren’t so lucky. Any fatherly love developed prior to birth can only stem from simply knowing, and probably extends from the love had for the woman carrying. Or maybe, in my case, I was simply ready. The day your mother called me crying to give me the news, it happened, and I knew you’d be here soon and that I’d love you with the force of a thousand suns.

A rare show of affection.

Now, here you are at two years of age. As such, you’re every bit as stubborn, brilliant, impulsive, sweet, selfish, capable, uncontrollable, and downright fucking perfect as a toddler can be. The glowing aura of light I see around you when you’re gazing at me is blinding and does its best to break me down into my base elements. Your giggle makes my spine tingle and your adorable tantrums ensure you’ll be as strong willed and self-assured as I could hope. Your commitment to what you’ve found interesting is unwavering, proving to me you’ll have a mind of your own.

You call me Daddy, looking up at me with those bright blue eyes, wispy blonde hair astray, and I fall to pieces. In your toddler mind I’m this being you can rely on for food, care, toys, and tickles. In reality, under your gaze I’m trillions of tiny parts ready to crumble. The love I have for you, and the awe I feel when seeing you do your little toddler thing actually hurts. It’s the best kind of terrible pain in my belly, a twist I can’t quite explain causing my brain to release chemicals culminating into the meanest cocktail of pride, anxiety, joy, and fear imaginable.

Unless you’re smacking me in the face with a toy car, then I mostly feel pain and rage with just a splash of pride that at least it’s a car.

Contemplating this mess.

I wish you could have seen your mother pregnant with you. She glowed. She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and still is. I’m sure I’ll torture you with this story often, but your mommy ran from me at first. Chasing her down and convincing her I was worth her time was the best decision I’ve made so far. Here we are over four years later, and we only get stronger every day and I am constantly reminded why I worked so hard to gain her favor. She’s my partner and I intend on standing by her side every moment that she isn’t eating broccoli.

Humans never fully understand the love and protection afforded to them as babies, toddlers, children and even adults in some sad cases. We meat sacks have a thing for entitlement. Like when I give a you cookie one night, and it is expected every night afterward – we get used to things. You should know that you’re privileged. You’ve got an amazing older brother that loves you, several aunts and adopted sorts like a loving daycare lady that adore you, and thanks to the miracle of broken marriages, many grandparents that spoil you with toys and tight hugs. Then there is your mother who, while still remaining a wonderful partner to me, is always sure to show her love and affection for you two boys.

Us.

I’m your Daddy, Elliot. No one is going to love you in quite the same way I do, because in you I see me only much improved and cuter. I watch the way you analyze things and feel, not see, but actually feel like what’s in front of me is a reflection of myself. I’ve caught myself relating to your actions, because if I were irrational and lacked any sense of self-preservation it’s exactly what I’d do. You love cars – one might say you’re obsessed and have been from the start – which is exactly like me. Everything from your focus to your drive to your perseverance (which, let’s be honest, is just a nice way of saying stubbornness) is a reflection of characteristics I identify with – even if I don’t always successfully achieve each of those qualities.

What pleases me the most though, son, is that you’re a happy little guy. The world in front of you delights and awes you, and you take it in. Sometimes too literally, most of the world doesn’t belong in your mouth, but points for engagement anyway. I want for you to hold onto that awe and willingness to engage in the world around you, because those two qualities, in my experience, conjure the most satisfaction in life.

Daddy takes the cuddles when they’re offered.

Thanks for reading.

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