If you have a kid around Annie’s age you no doubt heard about the premiere of “Dora’s Rescue In Mermaid Kingdom.” Nickelodeon teased the special with endless commercials, toy store shelves were stocked with Dora Mermaid toys, and Annie wanted to see it the same way Heather wants to see “The Hunger Games.” Once this thirty minute opus finally aired Annie was obsessed with mermaids, and decided that she was going to be one herself.
As Heather wrote yesterday, we are on our annual trip to Arizona to soak up the sun and watch some spring training baseball. Our hotel room overlooks the pool, and the first thing Annie did was run onto the balcony and stare down at the people splish-splashing about. When I joined her she looked up at me, breathless, and said, “Dada? Annie Mermaid?”
“Yes, sweetie,” I replied. “Annie mermaid.”
Heather and I had, of course, made plans to go swimming while here, but the Dora mermaid special had sent Annie’s interest level in swimming through the roof. We started the long process of getting a toddler ready for the pool – applying sun screen, putting on a swim diaper, blowing up beach balls and inner tubes – and as we did I couldn’t help but feel a bit melancholy. Three years ago, when we were here with Maddie, I decided to play tennis with my father and brother-in-law instead of swimming with Heather and Maddie, and ever since I have cursed myself for missing the chance to watch my sweet Maddie Moo squeal with joy as she splashed about in the pool.
The water was a bit cold when Annie and I got in, but Annie didn’t mind. Even after her teeth started to chatter she still had no interest in getting out. She just wanted to keep playing Annie mermaid in her own little Mermaid Cove.
“Annie swimming, Dada!” she screamed.
“In the pool!”
We had a great time, so much so that when we finally did get out Annie lost it. Once back in the room we were able to calm Annie down, mainly by telling her we would swim again tomorrow.
The rest of the day was a blur – we went to dinner where I was dared to eat a lethally hot habanero burger, Annie and her cousins jumped around on the hotel room beds, and we fell asleep spent. After all of that I thought for sure Annie would forget about swimming.
But yesterday I woke to see Annie patiently standing in her crib. The minute we made eye contact she said, “Annie mermaid, dada?”
We had a packed schedule yesterday – breakfast plans, tickets to a game, dinner reservations – and if there was any chance of squeezing in a swim I was going to have get up right then and start the maddeningly protracted process of getting a toddler ready for the pool.
I was still pretty tired, and with such a busy day ahead it would have been easy for me to tell her we had no time for swimming. But then I remembered how much I regretted not swimming with Maddie. I swung my legs out of bed and said, “Yes, Sweetie. Annie mermaid.”
We had another great trip to Mermaid Cove, and thankfully this time Annie was fine with getting out of the pool when the time came (she was hungry).
As we headed to breakfast I thought about how Maddie’s passing has messed me up and made me a little less functional in so many aspects of my life, but if anything positive has come from what happened it’s that it has taught me to parent with no regrets.
And for that I am a better father to my little mermaid.
Beautiful post, you are an amazing dad!
Dawn @What's Around the Next Bend? says:
Mike, you are a wonderful dad! Annie is a VERY lucky little girl!
I’m so glad.
That bun thing in her hair absolutely slays me. A beautiful mermaid you’ve got there!
Yes you are a gread dad.
Mike, you are such a great Dad! Annie is one lucky little mermaid!
That’s so sweet, I have tears in my eyes at my desk.
You are a great dad, Mike!
This was beautiful. I have been thinking of you and your family and how bittersweet this must all be. That’s a wonderful lesson for all parents to hear, and I will keep it close to me.
Wonderful post – well said!
Although a horrible, awful, terrible way to be made aware of these regrets, I think it’s beautiful that you have searched for a positive because it will only benefit your little Annie.
An incredibly sweet, beautiful post. Such sadness for the regret but such happiness for recognizing the opportunity and grabbing it. Annie may or may not remember it but you always will.
And I managed to somehow avoid the Dora mermaid special and for that I shall be forever grateful.
That last photo is wonderful. High five for getting back in the pool with your little mermaid.
You are an AMAZING dada Mike!!! PLEASE ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT!!! I’m so sorry you are plaqued with guilt. I’m so sorry. I hope one day you will forgive yourself…you had NO way of know what would become after that last trip.
If you ever doubt yourself Mike, look into Annies eyes & see how much she loves & adores you. Her face – the way it just lights up reminds me of Maddie b/c she so often had that same face when she was in your arms. Your daughters love you Mike & I bet they think you hung the moon. You will always be their hero…..always!!!
What a great post! Bless your heart for getting up despite being tired and taking her swimming again. I got to the end with tears in my eyes.
Such a genuine, sweet post.
You’re a great father.
You are such an amazing dad (my own father doesn’t even know he’s a grandpa now – every little girl needs a great daddy. I’m so happy your Maddie and Annie got one), and talented writer. All 3 of your girls have been so lucky to have you (as daddy or as husband). Thank you for continuing to share your journey.
You and Heather need to be told that you guys are amazing parents, not just for all you’ve been through, but just in general. I’m not sure if I’m wording this right, but I’ttys socially trying to say that Annie is a very lucky girl to have you both
Mike, you are a fabulous father – to both of your girls. While I’m happy you’ve learned some lessons, I’m certainly not happy with how you had to learn. xo
This post broke my heart, and made me smile at the same time.
Gretchen Gerth says:
Thank you, I needed this today.
Alexandra :) says:
Aww hope you enjoyed watching her
Wow, that made me cry. What a beautiful sentiment! Annie is lucky to have you as a dad.
I read this post and it makes me sad that the attitude that you have now is not innate in myself (and probably countless others). Our children are so precious and only mermaids for such a short time.
On a side note, either the shirtless lady in the back right of the picture or the man with the awesome man boobs made me laugh as I’m trolling the internet. Thanks for that!
Wonderful post Mike! The past few years of reading you and Heather’s blogs have taught me to be a better parent and to live in the moments we have with our children ,so for that I say…Thank You!!
John Bramley says:
Annie has a very wild imagination! It is so nice seeing you two enjoying the pool. That’s a wonderful daughter and father bonding!