Since I decided to start doing the letter to you, it’s funny how I start thinking about all year as I note things I want to say. But you go through so many changes that some new always inspires me to say more about it, that by the time I get to writing, I find it hard to focus on any one thing. Ultimately this year’s letter is getting a partial eclipse from a new brother on the way. But don’t get upset that your brother is already sharing the spotlight before even arriving, I’ll discuss more about this later.
There is no question that as each year passes I simply love you more. As your personality evolves, as you start to develop your own identity, you simply are no longer someone I just love because you are my son, but because of the qualities you possess as an individual. Love is a beautiful duality now. My love for you both defies reason and is because of reasons. It’s a wonderful place to be. You continue to be sweet, silly, kind, and inquisitive. I love the questions you ask now. You often use the phrase “in this world”. I am not sure you really understand how big it is, but I like the fact that you have started to think about that bigger picture. It is also amazing how happy it makes me to see you be able to do things yourself. A month ago, you went into a public restroom all by yourself and didn’t want me in there. The other day you warmed up a waffle in the microwave all by yourself. Your firsts have always made me happy, but as you grow and these things become more complex it brings not only joy, but even a sense of peace that you are a little closer to surviving on your own. I suppose there will come a day that I will miss you being more dependent on us, but in the end parenting is to teach you to become more and more self-sufficient. I guess it just makes me feel satisfied as a parent to see these accomplishments even if they are trivial in the big picture. It’s honestly why I am loving fatherhood so much, because of how much joy you bring to things that I previously thought of as trivial, if I thought of them at all!
You are also developing a strong will. These last couple of months you’ve been getting a bit more angry when you don’t get your way and being more defiant. Given how wonderful your disposition is in general, this is sometimes hard to take, but I sense this is just the beginning of a battle of wills. But I just want you to know that we think, all the time, about the why you need to listen to us, not just that you listen to us, and so even though it breaks our hearts to make you upset at us, we know we are doing the right thing. I know you have to test your boundaries, and I hope you keep doing that in life, because to go anywhere in life, you need to cross a few boundaries, if not many.
Your love of dinosaurs continues, and you don’t just love dinosaurs but know their names and things about them. You’ve also show an interest in crystals, and plants. You seem to have a very steady hand for using scissors and decorating cookies. I don’t know what it all adds to but you have officially said you want to be a geologist because you want to dig up dinosaur bones and learn more about crystals. As I look back on this year, all I can say is that I am excited to see you grow more as a person. I don’t know how much you can project forward from the person somebody is when they are 3 or 4 into adulthood, but I feel like you are always somebody who is going to make me proud.
You’ve also become more fearful to the latter end of this year. You say, “I’m not scared of anything, I’m just scared”. You want us to go with you upstairs at night, stand guard of the bathroom door, hold your hand. It’s natural I suppose. It’s healthy to have a bit of fear, but it sometimes feels hard to know that you’ve become worried about harm coming to you, even though you’ve not experienced any real harm. I guess it’s just part of your developing emotions, and also because the love you feel is stronger and deeper than before, loss must weigh on you greater than before. I wish I could explain to you that fear is healthy, and that conquering your fears is a great feeling, but ultimately something nobody else can do for you. In time you will sort out which things are worth fearing, but for now, I am happy to hold your hand.
There is an asymmetry of course to our relationship right now, in that I have the advantage of knowing almost everything about you, and having a decent chance of remembering much of it, but you do not. Of course, I can tell that in this last year you are understanding more about what kind of person I am as well, the fact remains is that there is so much about my life that you do not yet know. There is much about the world that you are not aware. This year has been a tough year. We live in one of the most powerful countries on the planet, and right now it is being run by a terrible human being. The government at large is generally void of compassion, and everything I and your mother stand for. Times feel quite uncertain, and I’ve been more worried and down about the world than I’ve been in awhile. I hope that things are much better by the time you are old enough to read this letter, but life may have bigger changes than I or your mother can imagine right now. You will notice that as you get older and more aware of the world, that there are simply more bad things to know about. You try to balance this out with the good, but it can be a struggle. I know intellectually that all the goodness that humans have isn’t being talked about, and you just mostly are going to hear bad news, but sometimes knowledge can’t override your emotions. Coupled with the fact that history teaches us countries do fall, and life gets significantly worse, there is a shadow on the future that I find hard to shake. Suffice to say there have been times when I’ve let you watch a bit too much TV just so that I could sit next to you or cuddle with you on the sofa. If a daddy’s arms make you feel safe, your touch makes me feel peaceful and lets me forget about the world for a while.
And so, in this next year, life is going to become very different for you as your brother comes into being. Once again, the difference between what I know and what I feel clashes. When we first thought about having another kid, it was our joy of being a parent to you that wanted us to multiply that joy by having another. And yet as your mother’s due date approaches I find myself feeling a little sad in a way. You have been my world for 4 years and now there will be another child to pay attention to as well, and I will no longer be able to give you completely undivided attention. I don’t know how much other parents experience this, but all I can think about right now is what I’ll be losing, and not what will be gained. It’s hard for me to imagine that there will be more than one child to love. And while I know my love for you won’t diminish, the fact remains that there will just be less of me available to you. At the same time, I know that your mom will have less time for you too with a new baby, and that we might possibly grow even closer now because you will not be able to rely on your mom quite as much, especially while your brother is very small. And then part of me also feels bad that I don’t feel the same excitement for your brother as I felt for you, and that every first your brother does, will be something you’ve already done and wonder if it could feel as special as it is with you. I’m probably overthinking it all. There will be lots of love in this house and if my joy is doubled come April, I will truly be a fortunate man. I also know for certain you will be a wonderful brother even if at times it will be frustrating to have to share attention. I know your brother will come into the world a luckier baby than you, simply because he will have 3 people to love and care for him as he grows instead of just two.
Thank you for another wonderful year son. You bring me more laughter and joy than I can describe. Happy Birthday! I love you so much!