I wrote this 366 days ago.
Today we celebrated his first birthday and I wrote another letter. I’ll post it next year.
May 13, 2012
So it’s 11pm the night before you’re going to be born and I thought I’d just write you a note. A letter. I started to do this because I’m pretty scared of surgery and you’re coming out surgically so I thought, well if something goes wrong I want to be able to tell you some stuff. And then I realized even if everything goes fine, I still have some stuff to tell you.
First of all, we really want you here. We may not always act like it, we may act like you’re annoying (because you will be) and like you are loud (you’ll do that too) and that you’re needy (well, you’re a baby, needy is a given) but we want you here. Hopefully you’ll see that, and that we love you, through whatever dumbass things we do.
Second, I want to tell you about your dad. He’s pretty much my favorite person in the world (granted I haven’t met you yet) and he’s an amazing person. He’s smart and funny but I think the best thing about him is that when he dedicates himself to something or someone he dedicates completely. When he meets you he’s going to be devoted, and he’ll do anything, try anything, be anywhere to make you the best kid you can be. I know some people want someone around that makes them happy, but for my money the person you want in your life is dedicated to making you the best version of yourself. Your dad decided one day, completely out of the blue, that he was dedicated to making me the best version of me, and that makes me unbelievably happy and grateful. And he’s kind of amazing in other ways. Watch him with the dog. Or when he writes. Or edits. Watch him whenever you can. That’s a good man. And I hope one day you’ll be a good man too. He may get angry, but his anger is always from a place of commitment to a cause. That cause may be a movie, or a story, or you. But never doubt he is fully committed to you. And to me.
Now, your extended family. You have two amazing aunts. Sara is a mom already and she’s smart and tough but she’s also patient and funny. She’s a lot like our mom, someone I’m sorry you won’t get to meet. Our mom was pretty great and Sara is a version of her. And she keeps her friends for a long time. That’s an amazing gift. Then there is Rebecca, who is warm and can bake and cook and is an artist. She’s going to teach you a lot and she’s carrying your cousin right now, a girl cousin, who you will grow up with. They are both married to extraordinary men.
And your grandparents. Richard is warm and funny and he rides horses. Judith is passionate and she’ll be teaching you piano. Lee is quiet but loves you so much and if you can make him smile, you’ve got him. And he will teach you to sail. Your grandparents are going to spoil you. You’ll love it.
If for some reason we never meet, if you come into this world and I leave before we really get to know each other here is what I want you to know. The world is a weird place. It isn’t always fair or right. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be fair and right. Being good to the people around you, thinking about them and making sure that your happiness isn’t trampling their happiness is the sign of true character. A kind person isn’t weak, they aren’t soft. Some of the toughest people I know are also the kindest. If you walk through this world thinking people are out to get you, you’ll miss all the good stuff.
Make sure to travel and listen wherever you are to the people around you. Traveling is like trying on a lifestyle, going to a city and trying to blend in can teach you so much. Go places that scare you, places that fascinate you. Don’t rush through a city. Three weeks in Paris are worth far more than three weeks of seeing every city in Europe. Go to Paris, stand at the top of Sacre Couer and just watch. I promise it is worth it.
You don’t have to be an artist as your profession, but treat your job, whatever it is, like it is your art. Be committed, be passionate, be fully invested in creating whatever it is you create – plumbing or new medicines, or computer programs or novels. And don’t be afraid to change your mind if your passion flags. Everyone has their “Sistine Chapel” job – the great creation of their life and you’ll find yours. Be patient.
Rescue a dog and raise it. Do it yourself, don’t wait for a partner. Nothing teaches you more about how to prioritize your life than a dog. And dogs will love you and teach you to love. And get you out of your house. Walk a lot. If you can walk someplace, walk there. Or at least, don’t drive everywhere. Driving is great but isolating. Eat weird food. Eat the local food and try things that scare you.
In fact that’s the biggest thing of all. Try things that scare you. Not because they scare you –some fear is well-founded but when something has low risk and your fear is “I don’t know” or “It might embarrass me” then try it. Do the things that might embarrass you because that embarrassment will fade, but the shame of not trying will never ever leave you.
Be happy, make people happy and stand up straight. We’re short. All we have is posture and quick wit to defend against the tall people in the world.
I love you kid. I haven’t met you yet, but I love you very much and I want you to have an amazing life. I’m hoping to be there for a lot of it. But whatever I miss, you’ll be surrounded by people who will remind you every day how much I love you.
I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?
(that’s the first time I’ve ever signed anything “your mom” and it felt kinda good.)