003: At That Moment, I Became a Dad
To My Sweet Boy,
There are times when it’s difficult for me to describe an emotion or a feeling, not because the emotion or feeling can’t be identified, but because there’s so much love and memory behind it. I find myself in that predicament now as I parse my way through this first letter to you.
In just 4 years I feel we’ve already lived a lifetime together. From the moment you came into this world we’ve shared a special bond and have experienced so much together. And it's because of this I find it difficult to break any of it down into a few paragraphs.
I think back to the very second I saw you the first time and I can feel that moment as if it were happening now. In an otherwise busy operating room, after a light tap on my shoulder, I peaked up over a baby blue curtain and saw you come into this world. Your body was folded up like a pretzel, with legs and arms both pulled in tight, and your thick head of hair slicked back and down and every which way. And then I heard you.. a raspy cry to let me and your mama know you were here.
At that moment, I became a dad. You made me a dad. And I’ve been devoted to making that title of “dad” my life’s work ever since.
Every day since has been an adventure. As you’re learning what the world is and who you are, you’re teaching me how to be your dad and who I am as a dad. We’re figuring all of this out together - as a team - and I’d like to think we’re doing a mighty fine job of it.
My commitment to you is to nurture you into whoever you’re supposed to be, not who I want you to be. You’ve got a big personality and an infectious spirit about you that comes out more and more each day. And it’s that spirit I promise to nurture.
There are things I’m teaching you today - like character, resilience, kindness, grace - that provide the foundation for any future to be built upon. But these things are just that, a foundation, to set you off on a path to become you while treating others with respect. These attributes take work to embody and they take practice to make perfect, but the effort has been, and will continue to be, worth it. This I promise you.
As I close this first letter to you I’d like to share words that are forever in my memories of you. They come from the first book I read to you and they nicely encapsulate who you are and who you are still yet to become.
“When I look at you, and you look at me, I wonder what wonderful things you will be. This is the first time there’s ever been you, so I wonder what wonderful things you will do… and then [one day] I’ll look at you, and you’ll look at me, and I’ll love you, whoever you’ve grown up to be.”
-Emily Winfield Martin, The Wonderful Things You Will Be
Until next time, my boy.
Written July 18, 2022
Love, Dad, is a real-life series of ongoing letters to my children. While these letters are intended to be read one day by them, I feel that many of us — parents and non-parents alike — can connect with the stories and moments that forever bond us to those whom we love.
Each letter is first hand-written to capture the heart of the message. Things then move to a digital format for substack, and finally each letter is typed using a 1940 Smith Corona Sterling Typewriter and tucked away to be given to my children later on in life.