May 27, 2017
Today is your second birthday. The first year seems so long ago, I can barely remember it, it seems, aside from the constant stream of photos that automatically resurface — a time machine for our happiness. Every day is full of so many amazing, small moments — my heart brims with love. Sometimes, I can’t find the words, but I’ll try.
As I mentioned before, the best thing I ever hear about parenthood is that “the days are long and the years are short”. Still a rookie to this game, I can minimally attest that those words ring truer than most. With your second year behind us, I thought I would reflect on the number two, before I forget.
The day you were born, I received two amazing gifts. First, I got the gift of you, my son. Second, I received the gift of fatherhood. Most days, I don’t know which is the greater gift. Given they’re so intertwined, it’s safe to say they are perhaps one and the same. But to teach is to tell, so let me try to recount some of what I have received.
On Having a Son
When we first found out you were going to be a boy, I was honestly beside myself. I am not sure that I had a preference, but what I do know is that I was squarely convinced that I was having a daughter. Your mom thought so, I started dreaming about it, we even had a name picked out. I think it took me a few hours before, when I called your Uncle Dave, that it really hit me you were going to be a boy. Even then, I didn’t know what that really meant. Now I do :)
At this point in time, you truly are a wonderful little boy. You are an explorer at heart, loving to look at things up close and to seek out new things. I can see a lot of how I look at the world in your natural curiosity. You look at the world with wonder and abandon, making every moment open to possibility.
You’re always happy. You almost literally never cry and it’s usually because we pull you away from something you really want to do. Every once in a while, you wake up in the middle of the night, but it’s never been much of a challenge to settle you back to sleep. We’re so lucky with your temperament.
Cars, Trucks, Trains — that’s your life. We have no idea just how you got to love these things, but they are what you look for most in the world and how you pass the bulk of your time. The first 2 words you ever put together were “big truck” and your second birthday party theme is “Thomas the Tank Engine” — imagine that! The best part, of course, is your pet name for trains — “too toos”.
This last week, your Grandma Patsy has been here for a few days. She came early to have a little bit of exclusive time with you before Grandpa Michael and Grandma Tanya arrive. From the facetimes and Facebook posts, it’s really amazing how much joy and happiness you bring to their lives. As their children, it’s hard to describe what it’s like to be able to bring that much joy to your parents — hopefully, you’ll know this feeling well 😉
On Being a Father
Growing up, everyone had kids — it’s like the immigrant thing to do. It was what you did — grow up, get a job, get married, have kids. It was like a pre-order thing and everyone just did it. Over time, though, that changed and more and more people chose to have kids later or not at all.
I was somewhere in the middle. I understood the path that was most common, but I always had a knack for wanting to find my own path. It didn’t mean that I didn’t know what I wanted, but that I wanted to find it on my own terms.
It took me a lot longer than I thought to find your mom, but I am so glad I did. I found her probably around the time I was finding myself, which only made things easier. Even then, there was no rush. Until there was one. And then there was you.
Being a father, so far, has given me 3 wonderful things. Let me tell you about them.
Seeing the World Anew
I’ve had enough time in this world to be just cynical enough to think I’ve seen it all. Of course, the antidote to cynicism is innocence. Innocence does not suffer from pretense or pre-conditioning — it is what we know before we know anything else.
Seeing you see the world has changed me in ways I can’t describe. I can finally appreciate the gifts I have been given throughout my fortunate life. I don’t know there’s a shortcut to this, seems we need life to be skate right to the edges before we value it — and too often, it’s already too late.
Thank you for a new world son.
Mastering My Mistakes
I’ve told you many times already how important I think it is to be a teacher — a source of knowledge, inspiration, and perspiration to those around you and beyond. There’s always at least 2 kinds of knowledge — that derived from success and the other from your mistakes.
In writing these letters to you, I’ve finally had to confront my own demons. I’m far from perfect, and if you asked me, I’m flawed beyond what anyone ever forgives me for. But in that knowledge, and more importantly, in trying to set you on a path much improved from mine, I must let you know all that is good, bad, sad and true.
Thank you for making my mistakes matter.
Counting In Seconds
I’ve always harbored this morbid fear that I won’t be here as long as I’d like. Having a son, it’s become all the more clear that, regardless of if I have 1 second or 1 decade, there’s no time to waste in being and doing the best that I can for you, your mom, and the rest of the world.
I’m not a warrior, I’m not a hippie, but I’m someone who does care for the good that I can create in the world. I know now I can measure my time by the legacy I leave you, not in money but in knowledge and empathy.
Thank you for slowing time enough for me to see it.
Today, you’re 2 years old son. Time has shown that it can move both incredible fast and incredibly slow at the same time. It has shown that it is not the physicality of it, but the experience and perception that matters most. It is something we can’t squander.
Looking back, I spent my most of my life dreaming of millions. Who knew all I needed was two — me and you.
Happy birthday, my son.