An Open Letter to My Son

Dear Junior,
A couple of days ago, one of your tweets made me laugh and I responded by tweeting, “Ur my fav!” to you. I want you to know that that is the truth. I did not mean my “favorite child” but my favorite person. As a loving parent, I have to say that I love you and your sisters the same. As a logical person I have to admit that that’s not possible, even though I love you each immeasurably. I may say that I love you the most but if the three of you are in a burning house, I’m saving you last. I will definitely save you… but last. Smile, the important part is that I’ll save you.

I love your sister, Aubryn, because she makes me stronger. She pushes me beyond my limit to work, to love and to have fun. She is happiness personified. I love your sister, Seren, because she shows me the world. Her points and quizzical looks at the beauties of this planet have shown me more than I’ve seen in the forty years I’ve been here. I plan to enjoy each of those reasons every moment I can.

My love for you is because you love me. That is amazing to me because I haven’t been the best father and, at times, have seemed as if I wasn’t even trying to be. You have seen me at my best but more often at my absolute worst and yet you still love me. Not only have you loved me but also have chosen to stay beside me. I count it a blessing that I don’t know your rejection.

I know that I have let you down as many times as I have promised not to. I’m truly sorry for that. There’s a very heavy pain in my heart, when I disappoint you, one that I am working very hard to reduce to a minimum. The irony is that as hard as I’ve worked to protect you from pain, I’ve actually caused it. As a loving parent, I want to live with the rationalization of that irony. As a logical person, I have to see that I need to stop trying to protect you from pain.

I want nothing more than for you to avoid all pain. That’s what moves me to do some of the things that I do but now I’m seeing that’s not the way it should be. I’ve taught you to ignore and dismiss pain and now I’m asking you to forget what I’ve taught you. I hate to have to write this but I want you to feel pain. Not pain that I cause, of course. I don’t want to cause you pain ever again. The pain I want you to feel is that of life. I want you to feel the pains caused by living life. You’re a growing sixteen-year-old boy and you feel some physical pains at this stage in life. Those are growing pains. Your body feels pain and, to deal with the pain, your body responds by growing. That is how you are to respond to the pains of life.

The reason I only reason that I want you to feel pain is so that you can respond to it and grow. Whether the pain comes from you directly or something outside of your control, it’s there just so that you can grow. You will feel pain and, in your desire to not feel that pain, you will make the right adjustments. Adjustments that not only deal with the pain but also strengthen you for that next pain. Look at all the push-ups you can do! By enduring the pain of each push-up, you are preparing yourself to conquer the next push-up and then the push-up after that. That is the purpose of life’s pains. They are push-ups! Pain is purposed not to hurt you but, instead, to cause you to grow stronger.

I hope that this doesn’t scare you. Even though I did say that I will no longer try to protect you from pain, you can be damn sure that I am here to help you deal with any pain you ever need me to help you deal with. You’ve helped me through my pains more than you will ever know so I promise to be strong, like you are, so that I can help you through yours.

I love you because you inspire me. No matter how good I think that I am, your love makes me want to be more for you. It lets me know that I can be more. Your love helps me be more.

I love you buddy.

Dad

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