Before you were two years old

You Really Need to Read This Foreword

“Sitting by myself on yet another flight for my work as a litigation attorney, I would inevitably think about my four- and three-year-old daughters. And there was always one fact that consumed me, which was hard to believe and impossible to ignore. My girls had seen me almost every day of their lives. We quite literally spent hours looking into each other’s eyes, trying to find each other’s soul. I fed them. I changed their diapers. I dressed them, many times so awkwardly that they started crying. I coaxed them to sleep. I taught them, disciplined them. They knew me as their ‘dada,’ a reliable source of unending love and comfort. And yet, at these ages, they would not remember anything about me had I left their world on a plane.”

Most parents can recognize this phase, when a baby begins to discover his or her hands. Here, you can just imagine Sofia thinking, “WTF is this appendage?”

It’s never too early to read to your child and in different languages. This is a Japanese book of numbers and colors that I read continually to Sofia. If someone spoke to her in Japanese now, she would only be able to respond with terrifyingly bewildered look.

Photos trigger the memories of our children’s little idiosyncrasies. She used to sleep like this all the time.

Alessandra sleeping with her trusty zebra, which 10 years later has become so ratty and dirty that we call it hyena.

Chapter 1: How You Are

“The physical milestones, as trite and unexceptional as they were, always caused me to rejoice. The times you began to smile, which led me to try to make you do more of that, which led to more smiles, a rolling snowball of happiness. Or the simplest of gestures, the wave. As adults, it’s such an unremarkable movement, but when a baby learns it, you want to practically build a monument to this landmark achievement, the bridge from one human being to another. A dumbass wave. I would give anything to celebrate these milestones again for the first time.”

Even in 2009, parents were willing to spend a lot of time and energy to come up with the perfect shot of their baby with a shirt with Yoda and “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Look at this good baby seated in her very own bassinet for a flight to Japan!

Our ten-month-old’s incessant crying drives me to the edge, until I am swigging wine directly from the mini-bottle. And I’ll never forget looking at my watch and thinking, “THERE ARE EIGHT MORE FUCKING HOURS LEFT ON THIS FUCKING FLIGHT.”

Chapter 15: “I Believe the Children Are Our Future”

“You’ll remember going to Paris and discovering that this city is so charming because it is not built for strollers of any kind, which led to your mother and I carrying these insanely heavy carriages with you strapped in them, up and down the Metro steps.”

Just before our daughter’s first birthday party — I think I was so exhausted that I was sleeping with my eyes open.

First steps. I’m so excited about memorializing this moment that I’m willing to let her fall on her face.

I’m not sure how me making this face would encourage her to come toward me.

The first time Sofia meets Alessandra. Sofia stares at her, points and utters, “Baby.” And kisses her. Then she says, “No, that’s mine and I never gave you permission to use it.” True story.

Ah yes, the epitome of the modern era, the multitasking, working parent holding a sleeping baby … nah, actually, Mark checking Italian soccer score (Roma 1, Parma 0).

Having 2 kids under 2 years old is no joke, man.

Even an 18-month old can definitely wear you out (to explain the shorts, 2010).

Toilet training was tough. Here I am actually trying to convince my child that squatting would be a much cooler way to poop than standing up.

I miss this age when we could dress them however we wanted. And this wasn’t even Halloween.

Hey kids, I hate to be so draconian, but could you guys not use those crayons to draw over our coffee table? Thanks.

I spend a lot of time bashing lawyers, but this is easily the most rewarding experience of my legal career. I had taken a pro bono case for a political asylum refugee from Guinea. Because of a loophole in US immigration law, one of his sons was left behind. The government granted our application for humanitarian parole, which wasn’t an easy task. Here we are at JFK, waiting for the little boy to arrive.

The mother had not seen the boy in 3 1/2 years, and this was the first time the father had seen his son. During the 9 months I had worked on this case, I often thought about all of the things that the parents had missed while their boy was living in Guinea. Anyway, thank God I was able to keep it together when the reunion actually happened.

Nah, I’m kidding. This is about 20 minutes after the family was reunited and I’m still a hot blubbering mess.

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