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I blinked. And now my daughter is 16.

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It’s Aug. 1, 2003, right?

My daughter was born last night at NYU’s medical center. We named her Casey Marta, and she weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces. She came out with the cord wrapped around her neck, and I was terrified. Why wasn’t she crying? Where was the noise? Why was she so pale?

Then the sounds arrived, and I could breathe.

It’s Aug. 1, 2004, right?

My daughter had her first birthday party yesterday afternoon. All the relatives came to our house. We had cake. People talked. Casey’s not walking yet, but she sorta made her way around.

It’s Aug. 1, 2005, right?

My daughter is 2. She’s walking, but not particularly well. She loves all things pink. I love walking into her room at night and hearing her soft in-and-out breaths. It’s a soundtrack I could die to.

It’s Aug. 1, 2008, right?

My daughter is 5. All about princesses. Princess dresses here, princess dresses there. Wants to be Cinderella. Because who doesn’t want to be Cinderella?

It’s Aug. 1, 2009, right?

My daughter is 6. She knows all the words to “Rock Bottom” by KISS. Her hair is the color of sunshine. When a cool breeze comes, she sticks her nose into the air to feel it.

It’s Aug. 1, 2011, right?

My daughter is 8. She plays an instrument, but not well. She loves school, and waiting for her at pickup is the high of my days.

It’s Aug. 1, 2014, right?

My daughter is 11, right? We’re moving to California in a couple of weeks, and she did not take the news well. On the morning we need to leave out house, she collapses to the floor and weeps. It’s a deep hurt. A bruise. I wonder whether we’re doing the right thing.

It’s Aug 1, 2015, right?

My daughter is 12. She has discovered this sport called water polo. Which is weird, because A. We know almost nothing about it and B. She’s never been athletic. She’s bad at first. Terrible. But she sticks. And sticks. And sticks. She refuses to give in.

It’s July 31, 2019, right?

Right?

My daughter is 16.

Holy fuck.

My daughter is 16.

I don’t know how this happened. The little girl who used to sit atop my shoulders is no more. The little girl who looked forward to our annual Christmas New York City fun days is no more. I am “dad,” not “daddy.” I am not the center of her world. She has friends. A job. A sport.

And yet, I am more in love now than I’ve ever been. She’s this person—tall, confident, smart, feisty. She takes no shit. In the pool, she’s a shark. She takes her studies very seriously, without us ever pressuring her to do so. She has good friends, a pep to her walk, a mannerism that makes me step back and say, “Wow. We made her …”

The cliche is real—parenthood flashes before your eyes, and one day you’re 47 and aging on the quick, sitting before your laptop and trying to put into words what your daughter’s 16th birthday means to you.

Well, here’s what it means to me: Pride.

I am overcome with pride.

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