Point of No Return – It’s been a wild and wonderful first two years

Sitting at my desk on Wednesday morning, I was amazed by a sight outside my office window.

The sun was coming up over the horizon.

To hear people talk over the past several months, if Candidate A won the presidential election, we would all be plunged into an eternal state of darkness and despair, devoid of our souls and stumbling all over each other because the planet ceased to spin on its axis. The same went for Candidate B.

But there it was. The sun had returned. My creaky knees still creaked, my Baltimore Ravens were still 4-4 and we still had a deadline ahead of us so we could get a paper on the street Thursday afternoon.

There’s no telling where this will take us in the future, and you can honestly say that about every election we have held in our short history as a nation. The electorate have spoken. Mr. Trump will take the oath in January to begin his obligation to the American people, and the citizens of this country will continue on with their individual obligations the same way they have since our founding fathers fought for us to do just that as a soveriegn nation.

And I’ll eventually get home from work and kiss my daughter goodnight.

You see, Wednesday was not only a day of mourning for all those who backed Hillary Clinton in her run for the White House, it was also my daughter’s second birthday. And, to me, that was the real news of the day.

Riley Lynn McCann — or “Riley the Wrecker,” as she is affectionately known at home — is now a vibrant, chatty 2-year-old with the world ahead of her, and, usually, a mess behind her. She sings along to the songs in her movies (though, to be fair, sometimes she channels Bob Dylan in terms of clearly articulating the lyrics), colors on every scratch piece of paper she can get her hands on and has attempted more than once to use a dog as a landing pad for one of her courageous leaps from the couch.

So, yeah, she’s a handful.

But what a handful she is. She laughs at herself when she trips and falls over one of her fallen toys. She makes the bathroom look like the outside of a submarine when she’s done taking a bath, and she stands in her crib and announces to the world when she is awake and ready to start her day — sometimes at 4 a.m. And there is nothing about her I’d change.

Well, yeah, I mean, obviously there are some things I’d like her to work on — specifically, that 4 a.m. thing on Sunday mornings. That’s not so cool. And, while we’re on the subject, the fact that she has a habit of relieving herself on me everytime we’re working on the whole potty-training thing, while it might make her mother laugh, is something I would like to see changed over time. And maybe if she could...

But I digress.

My little girl is awesome. She’s alert and inquisitive and funny and smart and happy. She has a remarkable ability to make people smile when we are at a store or restaurant, and she has turned my own mood from anger to laughter with a simple expression. She is kind and gentle with babies and animals, appropriately shy with strangers and pretty good at picking up her toys if you tell her specifically to pick them up right now.

We couldn’t be more proud of her.

I was originally going to write this column as a way of sharing just how far she’s come in the past year. In a wave of nostalgia, I went back on my phone the other day and started looking at photos and videos from her first birthday. The differences are, indeed, spectacular. She has grown taller and lost some of that wonderful baby fat. She is much more vocal. She walks without as many “gravity storms” taking her down on her backside, and her ability to logically figure out things on her own has grown exponentially.

I could also go on about how much she loves to run — inside, outside, on the couch despite us telling her 496,245 times to please stop ru...

Did I already digress? Yeah? Sorry.

What is nearly as remarkable as the changes she has gone through are the changes she has caused me to make. It would be easy to chalk up the increasing amount of white hairs on my beard or deeper creases around the eyes to these two years of wonder, and they are both true, but there’s something else I’ve noticed that comes with the package of raising a 2-year-old: Perspective.

I look at things differently now.

Like a lot of people, I was locked into the notion of “today,” without real consideration for the future. Well, now the future plays a bigger part in my mind than ever before, and that’s because I now have someone else to worry about.

I also find that I don’t get as upset over things that I simply can’t control. I can control being an active father. I can control working hard to set a good example. I can control being nicer to people so she can see what a difference it can make it someone’s life.

So, yeah. I’ve enjoyed helping Riley grow and advance, and every new accomplishment she has is one that will find residence in my heart and mind forever. But she is helping me grow just as much, and that’s pretty cool.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Riley girl. Let’s see where this year takes us.