1000 WORDS ON…MY DAUGHTER
Written: December 24, 2004
“Would you like to hold your daughter now, Mr Pagano?”
That sentence was weird on so many levels! First, who the hell is Mr Pagano? Second, you mean to tell me this screaming pice of flesh wrapped in a blanket before me is actually my daughter? Indeed it was, and the amazing thing was that I would swear she was actually staring back at me as I held her for the first time.
Looking back although it wasn’t exactly the most traumatic labour in maternity ward history, being our first, everything was a new experience and was thus difficult to cope with. MyX was a week past her due date, and woke up early on the morning of the December 23rd in a blind panic as she could feel nothing. As a precaution we got a taxi into the Coombe from this house here in Booterstown where we had recently moved with my grandparents. This birth was the culmination of a hectic few months since returning from the USA, what with my father-in-law’s passing and moving lock stock and barrel from Clontarf back to the southside.
They say as soon as one life ends another begins, and I will never forget how we learned that the baby was a girl on the very afternoon following his death. He had gone at 4:30am but MyX was still determined to carry out her sonogram appointment. We could clearly make out RA’s face in the womb, and she even yawned for us! Since we had the girl’s name picked, she was now officially a person from that day forth. Apparently there was a girl in MyX’s class when she was little called RA and she always liked the name.
Before we knew what was what, I was looking down into her little eyes as the doctors were putting her mother’s birthy bits back together again. Much has been written about the joy of looking upon one’s offspring for the first time, and I doubt I could add too many superlatives; suffice to say it was even more mind blowing than I had expected.
It was Christmas Eve, and I wanted to go out and tell the world. Having had no sleep for over 24 hours, I proceeded to go to the pub where I had worked and get blotto on two or three pints, running around telling everyone who would listen that my daughter had been born that morning. Meanwhile back in The Coombe, MyX was busy trying to bond, and though she was a bit upset the breastfeeding thing wasn’t happening, she was still overjoyed. A few days later, we were home, with the umbilical cord of the nurses’ help having been cut and the two of us wondering how on earth could we look after this little bundle day in and day out!
But look after her we did, and she seemed to make the transition from baby to toddler to little girl to young lady in very quick time. The hardest period she has had to endure was obviously when her mother and I split up. I guess since we had CJ as well and RA was older, we assumed she was more able to cope, but one day I was to be given a rude awakening of sorts. Though she seems to have comes to terms with both her parents’ new partners, one day I found a piece of paper on which my daughter had written : “Dear God, if you can give me one wish, PLEASE let it be that my mummy and daddy get back together.”
I was completely lost for words, and had no idea what to do or how to explain things to her. She never mentions it when she is with me, and you couldn’t call her an unhappy child by any means. However this plea brought it home to me that just because she older than her sibling it doesn’t mean she isn’t still a little innocent girl that needs as much love as I can give her, and try to give it I will.
Today, my first born child celebrates her 10th birthday, and a beautiful young lady she is in every respect. She is beginning to fall into the typical big sister routine of constantly despairing of her younger sibling, but underneath it all she adores CJ, and they are not suprisingly very close. She demonstrated a strong desire to be part of a stable family when she was in a flood of tears at Medford Airport in Oregon having spent a week with my father last summer. With that I am doing my best to piece together as much of my own family as I can, since I cannot comply with her heartfelt plea in her note.
Of course, like any other kid, she has her moments! It is not surprising that I empathise when she shows qualities I know she got from me, yet get furious when she displays ones inherited from her mother! She appears to be very creative, yet uncertain of her own abilities, while all the time displaying all the hallmarks of a scatterbrain; for this she has the Pagano family gene to thank! All this goes with qualities taken from her mother’s side, which include a stubborn refusal to admit when she’s wrong, even given the most comprehensive evidence to the contrary.
When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she says a teacher. To me this demonstrates that when she is in a situation she does her best to work out what is really going on around her, and that she is dreaming up ways to get the job done herself. I wanted to be a teacher when I was in school, then when I worked in the pub I wanted to be a pub manager, then it was a sports shop manager! Hopefully I will be able to help her see beyond her immediate environment and realise her true potential.
© JL Pagano 2004
NEXT, #31 : 1000 WORDS ON…THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA