This is a excerpt from an insanely long letter i wrote to my son a couple of weeks ago around the time of his first birthday. I’ve been writing him little notes and letters here and there that i plan to give him to read when he turns 16. The notes are largely anecdotes on his life, growth, milestones, impressions, memorable moments from our family life and things i want to say to him in the time of experiencing life with him. Mostly, I am documenting our life in words for him but for me too. For us, for later, when time might have betrayed the memory of the beautiful details of our lives. Most of it is deeply personal and will only be read by him but the last part of this particular note, the tips, communicates some reminders i think other parents want to pass on to their children so i’m sharing it.
I’m happy to hear what aspirations, lessons and tips other parents have for their children so share away.
……And now some things to carry with you through life. Think of them as tips from mom’s handbook on how to hack life.
God – Find him, know him, and cultivate a personal relationship with him. There is a superior being and I have lived in his Grace so I know it to be fact. He will be that sure calm inside of you amidst the chaos that is sometimes life. He will also be the unseen guardian, your constant champion, cheering you on for life so tune your heart to his presence. I have prayed for and with you every day since you were born and so i hope you will carry the spirit with you, for life.
Read – Read books, stories, articles, things – just read. Cut out time expressly for reading. A good book will give you laughs, tug at your heart and allow you lose yourself in its pages. It’s a wonderful way to ‘experience’ things without actually living them. Reading will expand your knowledge in ways I or any formal education could never manage. I will raise you to read and I hope you love it but if you do not, just do it because Mom says so.
On Friends – Friends are that special kind of family we choose. People reciprocate as they are given so make some good ones and be generous with them. Care, be there and Love. You will always have me, and your family, and If you are genuine, some great friends to add to your life.
Travel and see the world – We live in such a diverse and beautiful world and travelling will give you the many aha moments of your life. I plan to raise you that way and I hope you will carry it with you. It does not matter where; just go somewhere new every so often. Explore, see the world. You will be better for it.
Hard work – For anything you do, give it everything – tasks at home, school and work. Soon you will have a job or even run your own company; either way, hard work will be the constant you will need to rise. Truly expend yourself and make your time count. You will reap from it, I promise.
Have fun – Whatever that means for you, do it. As long as you are not hurting anyone, pursue fun as passionately as you do hard work.
On kindness – There so few virtues I am passionate about as this one. Always, always, always choose kindness. Even if it is common behavior to behave otherwise, do not be mean spirited. It is not the most natural response and we have to consciously choose to be kinds but please try. Kindness is not one of those things we give to those who give it, we give it unreservedly, strangers and loved ones alike, deserving and not.
On treating everyone with respect – In our home, we treat Women and Men with respect and you will be raised that way but because the world is set up so women are disadvantaged in that esteem, I want you to be extra conscious of that. Because society will let you get away with many things as a boy/man, I want you to check yourself for male privilege, and stay grounded in the ideals of equal treatment of all persons in spite of their gender or beliefs.
Sorry and Please – These are good words, not just to say but to understand and mean too when you say them. You’ve got a stubborn gene from both sides so ‘sorry’ may be more difficult for you than most but try, try hard. Politeness never killed anyone so use the word ‘please’ as generously as is reasonable.
On love – I have learned that love is more present around us than we often acknowledge. It’s in the random phone calls to check in, the acts of kindness, effort to spend time together, common little sacrifices we make for each other here and there. You will know it by being present with your family and friends and when the time comes that special person. It is also good practice to tell the ones you love that you do. People like the reassurance. About that special person, take your time, worry not if you go through a couple of special ones, it’s the way of life – love each fully in the season within which they hold your eye.
You my light will always be my very best decision and I know I chose you but thank you for choosing me too; every day this past year with your enamoring eyes and little hands when they reach for mine, thank you. Continue to choose me like I will you, tell me things and stay close to me K, I promise you, you will always have me no matter what.
I hope you will grow to trust me, absolutely but above all to trust yourself.
I promise to write you only special days; birthdays, graduations and things but I will probably fail and write you many more notes. Bear with me, find them; read them, they are from my heart to yours.