Monday, March 5, 2012

A Letter to Our Son

February 21, 2012 (22 weeks pregnant)

Dear Son,

We haven’t met yet, but already we know each other. By now, you can hear the sound of my voice, and each day I feel you getting stronger inside my belly. It gives me such joy to feel you moving around in there and I imagine how soon we’ll be dancing together.

Last night your dad felt you move for the first time. It was a moment I’ll never forget. As we sat on the couch after dinner, I felt you starting to stir and placed his hand on my belly. I said, “Dance for your daddy.” Amazingly, you did just that. No sooner had I said it than you give a nice, solid thump to the heel of his hand that sent your dad over the moon and back with excitement. His joy and amazement were both loud and completely overwhelming. Already, you’re bringing us so much happiness. We can’t wait to meet you.

Until we do, I want to tell you a little bit about us and about our promises to you. You are so blessed to be joining a great, big extended family filled with so much love. You have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (both those related by blood and those who are family by choice) of every age who are so excited to know you and who will be there to support you throughout your entire life. You have relatives like your Grandpa John who may no longer be here with us physically, but whom you will come to know through our memories and who will always be watching over you. You have parents who are madly, crazily in love with each other, and who promise to raise you secure in the knowledge that you’re part of a happy family.

So with that, here are some thoughts about what you can expect of your life with us:

  • There will be lots of laughter. You have a boatload of goofy and fun relatives, and we’re pretty darn committed to making this family a fun place for you to learn and grow. At some point, you may find us embarrassing, but we’re confident that will only last for a few years. Otherwise, you can expect to have plenty of good times goofing around with us. And dancing. There will be a lot of dancing. In fact, I want you to learn something early on: You don’t have to be a trained dancer - or even particularly good at it - to have a great time on the dance floor. You don’t even have to have rhythm. You just have to love it and be willing to look like you do. Frankly, girls love a guy who’s willing to dance and they do not care whether or not you’re good at it (just ask your dad). Consider this your first bit of dating advice, not that you’ll be allowed to do that for a very long time...
  • There will be a lot of snuggles. Just say the word and you’re guaranteed a hug, kiss or cuddle from either one or both of us. Sometimes we may even force you to give one to us when you don't really feel like it. When you’re a teenager, this too may embarrass you, but hopefully it will teach you how important it is for families to express their love and support of each other.
  • We promise to give you everything you need, but not everything you want. God willing, you will not want for food, shelter, air or water. But you won’t always get that toy/candy bar/video game, etc. that you...MUST...have. You may hate us for this when your friends get the newest, fanciest thing-a-ma-jig, but someday you really will thank us. Your grandparents have taught us the value of appreciating what we have and of earning the things we really want. We plan to pass this gift along to you.
  • We will love you unconditionally. We haven’t even met you yet and we already do. We will give you opportunities to find what you love and the knowledge that you don’t have to be perfect or the best at things to enjoy them. We will support you whether you are the “star” or simply show up to warm the bench/sit on sidelines/watch from backstage, as long as you feel good about being part of that something - whatever it may be.
  • You will learn to be a gentleman. We will teach you that it’s better to be kind, considerate and thoughtful to others than to get there first, be the smartest or even to be right. You will see that opening doors for other people, paying generous compliments, saying thank you often (including sending thank you notes), asking nicely (while using the word “please”) and always, always, returning shopping carts to the corral all offer their own reward. You will feel good doing these things and sometimes you will find yourself making someone’s day, even if you never know it.
  • You are the light of our life, but it won’t always be all about you. Yes, that’s hard to say right now when we’re expecting a newborn baby soon. For several months, it WILL be all about you and it will always be about making sure you have what you need and are loved and cared for completely. But in the long term, there will be times that are just for the adults. And that’s OK. We love you, but you’ll still have to go to bed on time (usually before we do and often before our guests leave), learn to entertain yourself, enjoy an evening with a babysitter, etc. Hopefully this will give you the gift of seeing that you’re part of something much bigger and that you are an important - though not the only - member of a whole.
  • Being a good person is more important than being popular. There will be times when you will want to roll your eyes at this, but trust us on this one. You will never regret being kind to other people; you will regret those times when you weren’t. We will encourage you to make true, solid friendships without regard for whether they are the “cool kids.” They might just be, but what really matters is knowing that you have found kindred spirits who understand you and who will stand by your side. These are the people you will take with you throughout your life. They will make the good times even better and the bad times not so terrible.
  • We will give you the gift of faith, and we will support you in finding your own personal relationship with God. We will take you to church and Sunday school and teach you Christian values, including love and acceptance of others above all. Ultimately, we hope to demonstrate through our actions that it’s not about what you say you believe or how and where you worship - but how you behave - that makes you a Christian.
  • You couldn’t ask for a better role model in your dad. I know I’m biased here, but I just don’t think there’s a better man for you to want to grow up to emulate. He is strong and supportive, kind and generous, loving and fun. He doesn’t take himself too seriously but knows how to be serious when it counts. He loves his family and would do anything for the people in his life. He is responsible, smart and hardworking, and also knows when to take a break to appreciate the good things in life. He has maintained strong friendships because he knows how to be a good friend to others. He is not afraid to show his excitement or enthusiasm, and people adore him for it (I have yet to meet the person who is not taken by your father. He’s just that likable). He is a gentleman who demonstrates every day that real men are comfortable talking about how they feel and expressing their emotions. He will always have your back and be by your side.

As for me, well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about your mama, but I hope it won’t take you long to learn that I will always love you fiercely. I will everything in my power to keep you safe without being overly protective and to teach you how to be a good, strong and independent person.

I can’t promise to love sports, but I know I’ll love watching you play them.

I adore animals and will show you how much joy they bring their owners. I also will instill in you an understanding that it is our responsibility to care for those who entrust us with their loyalty.

I love the beach, the sun and the water. I love the smells of freshly cut grass, wet screens and water on the wind...frankly all of the sounds and smells of summer. I love ice cream and popcorn and the way a tennis ball feels when it flies off a racquet. I love to read and to write.

I hope to share all of these loves with you, but even if you don’t feel the same about them, I will support you in your passions. The person you are and who you will become is just perfect to me.

Your mom