Hello M, it’s Dad.

Well M, you’re about 6 weeks out. We are so excited to meet you. The knowing, contented smile that we saw during the 4D ultrasound connected me to you in an instant and, I fear (actually, hope), it portends a long future of mischief and endless curiosity about this life and universe we’re all muddling our way through. I have to say, writing this from so far away I had been feeling a little unconnected. But going to see your mama and spending quality time with her bridged a big gap.

So until you’re here and until you’re old enough to read this I am going to try to write to you. Lessons that dawn on me, crazy ideas I have, things I love about you when you’re here. Just all the good stuff that I won’t always have handy when you come ask! Hopefully this will be a way to keep lessons close.

You know, I’ve had an interesting life so far, to put it one way, and I’ve kept a journal intermittently throughout. I always wish I had done more to capture not just the memories but also the context that can never be replicated. So I cannot miss this opportunity, with you coming! Even sitting here at 29 my memory of crazy adventures fades or characters get replaced or the depths of despair and highs of victory lose their edge. What’s a bigger adventure that you joining us? I tell you there’s never been a bigger surprise in my life! And now it’s going to be a dad and his daughter — terrifying but amazing! I suppose I’ll write to you a bit about that too.

Some Background

I really want to write these letters openly. I have been jotting down some ideas late at night or when I am moved throughout the day thinking about you. I tend to get a little flippant and glib when real emotions come up because it’s easier. I’m going to try and avoid that here.

I lionized my father, your grandpa, who passed a few years ago. After he died I learned a ton of things about him and his family that I had never known. I still don’t know the full timelines of how he became the man I grew up with and respected so much. I have some ideas about why he left out information that was less than flattering or which would establish doubt about a world view. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve found that I wish I had just known him better as a man rather than the persona of “Dad” that he felt he had to wear. It was only in his last few months, as I watched a superhero gracefully handle withering away in a hospital bed, that I learned real strength, presence, and honesty. It was worth so much more than any mask of bravado I had worn up to that point.

A Balancing Act at the Speed of Life

So with you I’m going to try the delicate balancing act of guiding you through the world by serving as a role model while also being honest enough to show you doubt. So much of life is doubt and being present, honest, and full of love in these moments is what brings the rainbow after the storm. How do we sort through doubt? How do we keep our frenemy Fear in it’s proper place? These are some of the things we must learn. There are few hard and fast rules for life. One of the oldest is “do unto others” and if you truly represent that ideal, you will get very far and be very happy. A fairly lame rapper once said: find God but leave the dogma. This is good advice.

Please hear me when I say that gliding through crucial moments or being detached, aloof, or otherwise unconnected is not strength. It is cowardice. It may hurt sometimes but always look life in the face. I can tell you from hard experience that no matter how fast you run, or how well you juggle facades, reality will eventually catch up and demand payment with interest. We’ll go into this more.

Wrapping Up

In other news, my dad style is already on point. I think it’s because I am a geek anyways, but I feel like I’m starting to look the part in my polos and cargo shorts. My receding hairline has been picking up the pace in anticipation and my spare tire is swelling with pride, it seems, at being another in a long line of goofy, eye-roll worthy dads. I hope I can take up the mantle appropriately.

I’ve been working hard on my #DadJokes and the more they make your mom cringe, the closer I am to my goal.

Just remember throughout everything that may come: You are loved above all else no matter what. We don’t care who you are as long as it’s honest and loving; we’re so excited to watch you grow. Your mama and I are just two dumb crackers trying our best and we’re going to screw up sometimes. You are your own person, no one controls your life except you, and that is both an amazing gift and huge responsibility (#Spiderman). We’re here to help.

Love, Dad

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