Over the Moon - Epilogue - One Year Later
Cait's soft crying startled me from my brief nap. I am still amazed at how motherhood has somehow given me supersonic hearing.
Thirty minutes earlier I had returned from the grocery, put everything away, picked up my sleeping child, who was resting comfortably on her sleeping father's chest, and put her down in the nursery for her afternoon nap. Seizing the opportunity, I kicked off my flats and threw myself across the bed, fully clothed, for my own desperately needed nap.
I was halfway to the nursery when the crying suddenly stopped. I stood in the hall just outside the nursery, fumbling with the buttons on my blouse, thinking that Cait probably needed feeding, when I heard Greg's voice, low and gentle, talking to our daughter. The squeak of the rocking chair adding a rhythmic tempo to their conversation.
I don't generally make a habit of eavesdropping, but the soft sounds of Caitlin's cooing in response to Greg's direct, yet tender, tones stopped me completely in my tracks and made my heart swell with overwhelming love for my little family.
"You know, Peanut, and don't you dare repeat this to anyone, but Daddy really doesn't know where he would be without you and Mommy. The night Daddy found out you were coming into his life, Daddy was being his usual ss of a self and made mommy cry and almost go far, far away, taking you with her. Oh, and I promise that I will really try hard not to show you that side of me, unless, of course, you bring home some greasy-haired, teenaged head-banger. Then, so help me kid, Daddy's going to have to show you just how much of an ss he can really be."
I heard gurgling from Cait that I could have sworn sounded like, "Daddy, you wouldn't?!" Or, maybe it was more like, "Dad, if you embarrass me, so help me I'll never speak to you again in life!"
I smiled and continued to listen in on their little conversation.
"But," Greg continued, "Daddy came to his senses and realized that he loved Mommy very, very much. He knew how much she wanted you, how much we wanted you, so we did everything in our power to ensure that you would complete our family. Mommy took a ridiculous number of shots and vitamins and reduced her work schedule, so you would grow to be the beautiful, strong and healthy young lady you are today. And, Daddy even went so far as to ask Mommy to marry him. Of course, Mommy, stubborn woman that she is, turned me down--twice--before she succumbed to Daddy's charms."
"Really, dad? Only twice, huh?" Cait gurgled. I smiled at how well my daughter knew her father.
I peeped around the door and watched as Greg shifted Cait from his left to his right arm, stroking her wispy brown hair and looking deeply into the big blue eyes that matched his own. Cait was obviously so mesmerized by her father's voice that she was willing to put feeding on hold for a few minutes longer just to hear what he had to say.
"I then let Mommy talk me into buying this big, overpriced house, so you could have a 'proper' upbringing with good schools, a backyard and 'nice neighbors,' Greg continued, barely containing his sarcasm.
I leaned against the wall, suppressing a small giggle, since I could practically hear Greg rolling his eyes at the picture of domesticity that had become his life. Though he would never admit it, Greg loved our new house and spacious backyard; our neighbors, not so much.
"Thanks for the sacrifice, dad," Cait cooed.
"You're welcome, kid. You know, Daddy never thought he would ever have a family to call his own. I thought I would just die alone, a crotchety old man admired by many, but loved by none." I heard just the slightest hitch in Greg's voice as he bravely voiced his deepest fears to our daughter. My heart clinched at his painful confession. "But you and Mommy convince me everyday that I'm nothing like your opa and that I can be the best father I can be. And you know what Peanut, you truly make me want to be."
I peeped again and saw Greg holding Caitlin up at eye level. They looked so adorable together, staring deeply into one another's eyes. Somehow, I knew this would be the first of many heart-too-heart conversations these two would be sharing over the coming years.
"So, Miss Caitlin Claire House," he said as she started to fuss, no doubt wondering about the lack of food around the joint, "when you're 16 and screaming at your mom and me that you hate your life and you hate us, just remember one thing--we love you very much. Always have, always will, and we will always be your family, whether you like it or not."
"Thanks, dad! I won't forget. Now, can I eat?"