On Confidence

My idea of confidence is constantly evolving. The more you’re willing to fall, and the more you’re willing to learn, the more confident you’ll be.

Boys,

Websters dictionary (dot) com defines…. just kidding. Truth is, I may have written to you, Reagan, about this before. I might not have. Either way, I think its important to recognize that even as a 35 year old man, I don’t always have everything figured out.

Its funny because I know that everyone reading this in the time I’m writing it (Feb. 22, 2021 @ 7:10 pm), would look at that and say, “yeah, duh. We’re all just making it up as we go.” But I have to imagine you boys stumbling across this when you’re eight, 10, 15 at the latest (or else I really let this blog go…). But I would like to think that at those ages, I would appear as though I have things pretty figured out. I know my parents were constantly in flux at that age, each in their own way, but I still believed they had their shit together.

…big mood

I do believe every year I get things a little more together. But I can also admit that when I evaluate my own ideas and thoughts, they aren’t always the same as they have been even a short time ago. And that’s OK! No one expects anyone else to have it all figured out. I guess this is just all a long-winded way of saying that my idea of confidence — confidence in my role as a husband, dad, even confidence in myself in who I am as a person — it’s all changed so much in the past year or two.

I used to think that confidence meant projecting I had all the answers. I used to think that to be a confident husband, I had to be firm in every decision I made with your mom — that I had to have the answer as soon as she asked the question and would have to be able to lay it out in a way that was quick to the point, but also profound and with deep meaning.

Working though the toughest problems.

I used to think that I would have to prepare 10,000 stories for any given situation you boys might find yourself in someday… so that I could sit you down as soon as you did something wrong and illustrate the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate… all in a way that would keep with you for the rest of your lives. I wanted to be able to tell you stories that you would use on your own boys when you were teaching them how to be men.

I used to think that confidence was something I had to project, when the truth is I was afraid to ask for what I wanted in life.

But confidence is something else entirely. Confidence is being comfortable with knowing that you don’t know a lot of times. Confidence is being able to confidently say to your wife that I know where we want to go in our marriage, and that I need her help in figuring out how best to get there. Confidence is watching you boys make mistakes, then sit you down and tell you that I don’t know the right thing to do, but that I’m planted solidly in your corner and I will do whatever I can to help you find the best path forward.

When I look back at who I’ve been the past 35 years, I don’t think of myself as having been a confident person. There were always situations I was more sure of myself than others, but I think I would look at more situations than most with an “afraid to fail” attitude, when I wish I would have looked at failures as an opportunity to learn.

Your mom has made me a more confident person, but I think that you have to find confidence on your own terms, too. Growth is something that is both exciting and terrifying, but critical when it comes to finding confidence. I’m sure you both will struggle at some point in your lives with confidence, and that is OK — it’s normal even! But you have the best mom and a pretty good (if I do say so) dad to help you along the way and make sure that you both will grow into confident men.

Love you both so much!

Dad

On Sleep

Boys,

Now the thing about being a parent is that you’re unable to choose which child is your favorite. With that being said, if favorite child status were based on sleep — which it isn’t — then Reagan would be far and away the favorite.

Now I’ll say this: Reagan, you weren’t the poster boy for sleep when you were a newborn either, but your mom and I have been trying to go back in our minds and remember when it clicked and you became the great sleeper that you are today. It’s very possible that it could be later than where Koen is at now, and our brains just refuse to go back to that place.

I’ll also say this: I’m writing this to you boys the day after Koen decided at 3:45am that he was going to pull an all nighter on your mom and I, so there may be some level of bias in these words. Now three hour sessions like last night aren’t the norm, but they are more common than the “wake up once, take a quick bottle, and clock out” kind of nights that we’ve seen from you.

You’re cute, but not cute enough to keep me from sleeping.

Sleep is a funny thing. When you’re young like you boys are, you sleep all the time. I guess a lot of brain development happens when you sleep, which could explain why you’re a genius, Reagan. I can count on one hand the amount of times you haven’t slept through the night in the past two years.

As you grow into your childhood, sleep becomes something you almost resent. You don’t want to go to bed, try to stay up as late as you can, and generally have enough energy in the mornings to carry you through the day without ever really feeling tired. Then you become a teenager, and you start to appreciate morning sleep like you didn’t when you were a kid. I remember Sundays when I was a teenager and didn’t have baseball practice, I would try to sleep in until noon if my mom would let me. Then college comes and noon is an early day on a weekend.

But as you get older still, and the teen years and college are in the rearview, sleep starts to become something you, dare I say, look forward to. It doesn’t happen right away. You’ll find yourself in your mid-20’s, and midnight hits a little differently than it did a few years ago. You might have Orange Theory in mind for the (not-too-early) morning and decide to bypass that last drink in lieu of getting to bed at a “reasonable” hour.

Now you’re in your late-20’s or early 30’s, and bedtime is kind of the “event” of the evening. Like, you’ll go out to dinner and get a drink with friends at 7 so that you can be home, flossed up and in bed by 9pm on a Friday — big win! If you get a workout in on the weekend, better believe you’re going to at least get an hour on the couch while football is on TV (or Bravo for your mom).

Then come kids and that thing you’ve grown to love, that sweet sweet sleep…. just goes away. Baby naps are inconsistent at best, and parents never really get restful sleep at night in between feedings because the tiniest little movement or sound that comes out of your mouth gets a full sit-up and monitor check from both parents.

Parents make jokes about “going on vacation” to a hotel where they just go to bed early and sleep in. There’s a reason that these jokes hit home with anyone who has lived with a baby for more than a few days.

Listen, I love you both and I’m just venting because your mom and I are in the thick of it right now. I’m sure that, Koen, sooner or later, you’ll figure this sleep thing out and then your mom and I can count on at least a few good hours each night, which would be super fun. But until then, just keep being healthy, hitting us with those 3am smiles that make staying up with you a little bit easier, and we’ll all figure this thing out together.

Love,

Dad

On Changes

I don’t know if “changes” is the appropriate title for this post. But when I kind think about where I want to go with this post, the thing that comes to mind first is how much life has changed for our family in the last few months. Going from one boy to two has been a huge change and a huge challenge for your mom and I — we used to be able to hand you, Reagan, off to the other and go for a run, get some work done, etc. Now, as soon as one of you goes down for a nap, it feels like it’s a mad dash for one of us to take care of something while the other holds his breath that the sleeper doesn’t wake up.

That probably makes it seem more dramatic than it really is. The truth is that life with two kids is much tougher than I think either your mom or I were expecting. She and I will always put you both first above all else, but we also want to take care of ourselves by working out, spending some time together as a couple (and not after the chaos that is “nighttime routine”), and even getting some time to ourselves to reflect and find our focus for what all we want to accomplish as a family.

I remember working with someone who had his second child and would tell me how many changes happened when they went from one child to two. I’ll admit that I probably nodded along when he told me about it, but in the back of my mind, I thought that your mom and I would have a better handle on things and we could thrive where others might not be able to do so. I think if you asked either of us in an honest moment, there is probably more surviving and less thriving in the past few months.

Sidebar: as I write these blogs, (and I think I’ve mentioned this before), but it all comes out as a stream of consciousness. Rarely do I go back through and do any major edits outside of grammar and making sure it doesn’t read to clunkily. Sometimes, I realize that the direction a post is going isn’t how I intended it to go, but I think it offers you a real insight into what life is like for us at this time, and I hope that you might take something from that should you read it later in life.

As I continue to reflect on changes — mind you, I’m doing so as you’re both sleeping, so it probably is a different perspective than it would have been an hour ago — the thing that keeps me going are the little things. Earlier today, Koen was lying on his mat-pillow-thing and the rest of us were huddled around him cheering him on as he was trying (not max effort, but there was some attempt there) to roll from his belly to his back. We eventually helped him out and cheered like he did it all himself. Then, Reagan took his hand and mom was holding the other, and then I took Reagan and mom’s hand and we kind of made a little family circle. It wasn’t a huge moment worth making a statue for, but it’s one of those million little things that make up for the craziness that fills most of our days.

Changes are hard and no one really knows how best to handle those changes until after the change already happened. Most days, I feel like I’d be a better parent-mentor than actual parent because I can tell someone, “here is what I didn’t know and wish I did. If I had the chance to go back, here is how I would have handled it.”

On that note: parents — spend the money and buy Taking Cara Babies (not a sponsor). Watch the videos. Do the things. Know it is going to be hard but worth it. Did it the first time and swore by it, then took the “throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks” approach to naps and nighttime with #2 — love you Koen!

Changes are hard but they’re also necessary. I want to reference some movie your mom had one the other day where there is a line about how diamonds are made from carbon absorbing all the heat and pressure from the earth — not that I’m using that analogy because I’d probably be the zillionth person to do so, but if I did, I’d tie a bow on it by saying that to get our family to where we will eventually be, we need to get through all the heat and the pressure of these big changes so that the two of you can shine. Again, wouldn’t ever ACTUALLY do that, but if I did, well, I’m sure it would be a good way to wrap up a blog.

Sorry not sorry,

Dad

On Two

Sons,

This is the first time I’m writing to two of you. Because, well, there are now two of you. To be honest, the have been two of you for two months, now. The fact that I haven’t written you both since then is something I regret, but I hope to continue these posts so you both can look back at this time in our lives…

To two… šŸ„‚

Koen, you were born September 28, 2020. In fact, we’ll probably look back at this year and think of what a crazy year to have been born in, but the fact that you came healthy and happy will make your mom and I look back and appreciate 2020. Now that you’re nearly two months old, there isn’t much to say about you in terms of your personality (sorry, you don’t have a whole lot to say yet — but you have been smiling and making cuter noises lately, so you have that going for you…).

There are so many things that are different now that there are two of you. With one, your mom and I would be able to schedule handoffs so that one of us could work, work out, run an errand, or get done whatever we needed to get done, pretty easily.

As I move forward with this blog, I hope to write sometimes to each of you, and other times to both of you. The truth is, and I guess this is a lot like parenting, I am just going to figure it out as I go along and we’ll just see what happens.

The best thing I can say about where we’re at now is that we — our family — feels full. You both have so much room to grow and I’m sure things will continue to change and excite, but there is a feeling of completeness when the four of us (plus Rogue… I know, Rogue — you count too) are all home together.

So, here’s to looking ahead while staying present. To memories made and to memories to come. I love you both beyond words, to the moon and the stars and everything in between.

-Dad

20 Things about You

Son,

Today isn’t unlike any other day. It’s not a milestone month and while your personality changes daily, there isn’t anything special about today that would make me want to point out milestones or landmarks in your life. With that being said, I wanted to give you a little snapshot into who you are today, May 31st, and what makes you so uniquely you.

  1. You are very shy when you meet new people or come into a big group away from home, but you are a total ball of tornado energy when you’re at home and with your dog.
  2. You love seeing yourself when we first Facetime your cousins or Papa/Mima. Your face lights up and you laugh, and it is the perfect start to a phone conversation.
  3. Everything goes in your mouth. Doesn’t matter. You’ve even found a way to turn kisses into changes to open-mouth tastings of your mom and me.
  4. You wag your finger and “No! No! No!” anything you bump into or that knocks you down. You were standing at an end table, fell to your butt and momentum (very gradually) threw you back and you bonked your head on the floor. When your mom calmed you down, you turned to the floor and, very seriously, told it “No! No! No!”
  5. You love to be carried. But when you don’t, you absolutely turn to dead weight and try to drop down to the ground. But then you usually sit there for a second and want to be held again.
  6. We can finally sit for 10, 15, 20 minutes and watch shows — better chance if snacks are involved. Your favs are Peppa Pig “Pepppppa Pig!,”Ā Sesame Street (mostly for Elmo), and Dinosaur Train (more so with Deb than with us).
  7. You are a huge smoothie guy. We don’t make smoothies often, but when we do, you have some of ours and also need your own.
  8. You love carbs like your mom and dad.
  9. You will request-beg-demand to go outside (in that order), but once we do, you barely say anything. You obviously love being outside, but you are more likely to take everything in than to comment of everything.
  10. Birds, school buses, big trucks, aggressively smelling coffee and flowers (audibleĀ snnniiffff), snugs with your mom and dad, reading and rereading the same three books are all your jam.
  11. I wouldn’t say you have a hitting problem, but I think you want to pat other people like you would your dog a little too aggressively sometimes. We were at a brewary the other day (a kid-friendly one, mind you — and yes that does make it better), and you were being held by your mom. She walked by a man sitting down, and you basically “good-boy’d” him by pat-patting him on the head. I guess he was doing a good job at minding his business until you came through. Well done, sir.
  12. You are very social with people and other kids your age (after that initial shyness), which is really good because your mom and I worry with you not being in a daycare system, that you might not have otherwise been good with other kids (is that a run on sentence? I’m going to roll with it).
  13. You love to dance.
  14. You love to be crazy sometimes, and just run from the living room around the kitchen island for no reason while you scream like a crazy person and laugh at yourself. Rogue doesn’t know how to handleĀ thatĀ Reagan.
  15. If pools are cool, then you’d be Miles Davis. Not sure what that means, but what I mean is that you love being in pools.
  16. You are so smart. People we meet think you’re older than you are because you’re a great walker (you do have an athletic dad!), you have a great head of hair, but also because you’re so smart. You interact with us and with people, and know what all your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hair, shoes, Mama/Dada, doggie, books, racecars, Mickey, school bus…. the list goes on and on, and you’re not even a year and a half.
  17. You are a perfect little balance of your mom and I and we love seeing each side of us come through a little in you.
  18. If we’re not talking to you, especially when you’re eating, you’re letting us know about it.
  19. Airplanes are either great or terrible for you — there is no middle ground.
  20. You love your momma/mom-ee, dadda/dadd-ee, dog, Deb-Deb, G-ma, Gigi, Papa and Mima, and everyone else in your family. Strangers are still dangers, but you know and recognize the people who love you and give them all the love back.

There are so many other things that you do, say, are, feel, and show with all your little energy that this list can’t capture who you are. All I want to say now is that you are so amazing and so loved. You are also a ladies man and have just about everyone eating out of your palm when you put your head on your mom or dad’s shoulder, then blow them kisses as you tell them “bye-bye.”

On that note:Ā bye bye!

Dad

On Mother’s Day

Son,

This will be your second Mother’s Day. For your first, we were down in Florida visiting Mima and Papa, and you were just a 3 month old baby — it was actually your very first vacation! Your dad didn’t do a very good job at making your mom feel special, and I am determined to make up for it this year.

There are so many reasons that Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays and why you and I need to go out of our way, this year and, really, all the years, to make your mom feel loved. I’ve come to know that being a mom can be a thankless job a lot of times. Nobody tells her that she does a great job on days when it’s just the two of you and she isn’t able to get any work done. Most days, nobody says “thank you” for making sure our refrigerator is full, that there isn’t dog hair taking over the house.

Now that I am thinking about it, here are just a few of the many things you and I are thankful for your mom (and should make a point to tell her that we love her more often):

  1. We’re thankful that she cares about you so much, that she stays up at night figuring out the best ways to make sure your butt rashes stay in check, your belly doesn’t hurt, and you are in the best health you can be (she even set an alarm @ 1:30am the other night to check to make sure your rash wasn’t getting any worse)
    • side note: that is parent speak for something else, but no need to subject anyone outside of the inner-circle for why your rash might get worse at 1:30am… just saying, your momma loves you a LOT
  2. We’re thankful that she plans ahead and makes sure that you experience new things, like zoo trips, COSI trips, swimming lessons before vacation, and ways for you to experience more than what the world of Peppa Pig might allow
  3. We’re thankful that she wants the best things for our family, and works so hard to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to have the life we have and the life we see for ourselves in our future
  4. We’re thankful that she has us looking our best (and in clothes that fit) — God knows if it were up to me, you might still be rocking a tank top made for 6 mo. olds, belly-showing and looking like a baby Zeke Elliott.
  5. We’re thankful that she puts up with us, because between your drunk-baby tornado of terror and my inability to remember what we’re doing, where we’re going, or even how to get there, we are probably a little harder on her than we should be
  6. We’re thankful because your mom has no less than five jobs, with each one requiring her to juggling so many things, and she still finds time to be the best mom and wife
  7. We’re thankful because she supports the things I want to do, and will absolutely support anything you decide you want to do as you grow up
  8. We’re thankful because she makes a point to Facetime your Mima and Papa, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Katie, and all your cousins. Just because they live far away doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get to see them, talk to them, and make sure they know how great you are
  9. We’re thankful because she balances us out so completely. Lets face it — you and I can be a little messy/all over the place/scatter-brained/not always making sense/don’t tell her we love her as much as we should, and she still finds a way to keep us looking good
  10. We’re thankful because she is the best in every way

Truth be told, I don’t know which one of us put your mom through more to this point. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Despite the fact that she has 1000 balls up in the air at any time, still finds time to look as good as she does, and makes sure that our worlds keep on turning day after day, she still finds time to love us, make us her top priority, and give everything she has so we can be in a better place tomorrow than we were yesterday.

So even though you can’t say it yet, I will just say it for you, son…

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY, KELLY/MAMA/B! WE LOVE YOU SO VERY VERY VERY VERY MUCH!

 

On TGIS(pring)

Son,

I love you. Your mom loves you. Rogue loves you, but that might be because you leak food like an old car leaks oil. But let’s be honest with each other, we need this warm weather so we can get outside.

Sure, we have passes to the zoo which has some indoor exhibits (hello, you’re a huge fish guy). And we have COSI passes, which is fine for taking a long afternoon (perfectly spaced between naps and meals, of course). We even have gone on some fun field trips to the Franklin Park Conservatory to see some butterflies. But for the most part this past winter, we’ve spent A LOT  of time….. indoors.

Now, we do a lot of fun things indoors. Some of your recent favorites have been playing with poker chips (usually before bed), looking at race medals, dancing to Alexa (next!), and snacking while watching Peppa Pig, Sesame Street, Dinosaur Train, and GooGoo and GaaGaa. Now, as much fun as we have all the time, you can get a little cranky when you get bored. Which is why having the option to go outside is something we all, your mom and I especially, welcome with hope and excitement.

Spring has given us a few warm and somewhat dry days so far, and we’ve taken advantage. You love walks with your dog, playing in your yard, and the occasional trip to a local brewery where your mom and I can settle in while you find some fun outdoors (we’re there with you, BTW. We don’t just send you off and saddle up to the bar). A recent fav. has been Nocterra, where we met another couple who had a baby a little older than you and, fingers crossed, we might have made some adult friends!

There is so much your mom and I want to do with you as the weather gets warmer. We have a lawn mower that blows bubbles, plastic tee ball set, plastic golf clubs, a fenced in yard with minimal amounts of sharp corners, a hose with a sprinkler attached, jogging stroller that may or may not have been recalled because the front wheel falls off (feeling lucky? let’s get a run in!), and tons of other things you are going to love and we are going to love watching you experience for the first time.

Now granted, you’ve lived through a Spring-Summer-Fall before, but you were a baby who couldn’t even roll, and now you’re a walking-ish, talking-ish, unstoppable ball of energy ready to get out in the world and take it over.

So here is to warm days at the park, lots of sunshine, snacks on the porch while we look for school buses, unplanned adventures, and maybe a few more trips to some breweries because it helps keep your mom and dad sane. We can still drink our milk and watch Peppa, but we’ll do that looking forward to getting to go play outside afterward.

On you being a “Taby?”

What it’s like living with a Taby.

Son,

Taby. I guess it’s an internet word that real people don’t use but is used to represent that special time in a child’s life where he’s not quite a toddler, but no longer a baby. Therefore, as the world you are growing up in tends to do, a word is made up and circulates around the web.

Taby. You are 14 months old and you are a Taby.

The taby-stage is probably the most stressful time for your mom and I because you tornado around the house like a madman, not quite walking but not quite running (ralking? wunning?), and crash into anything and everything at all times. You know you’re in the danger zone when your arms stick out at shoulder level (#frankenbaby), and you go charging out of view toward who knows where.

Another component of the Taby-stage is that you love attention from your dog, and you love snacks, and you love getting some serious attention from your dog when you have snacks. Typically, you make it rain Cheerios on the floor for Rogue as your motoring through the house. The fun thing about Cheerios is that they have no smell, so Rogue doesn’t always get all of them and we find lots of Cheerios in the carpet later that day, later that night, later that week. Why are there Cheerios in our office? Taby-stage.

You also love noise. Noise from your Taby-mouth, usually in a high-pitched, pterodactyl-shriek. If someone asks me what a typical day is like with you, I’d say something along the lines of “tornado #frankenbaby-pterodactyl Hansel-and-Gretel’ing Cheerios throughout the house with a dog-shadow close behind.” This might not make sense to some, but I feel like other parents would say “Taby-stage, right?”

Anyway, as stressful as it can be sometimes helicoptering over you and making sure a face plant into just about anything doesn’t happen, you’re more fun now than you’ve ever been. You’re still hilarious. You are more snuggly than ever. And when I call you and your mom when I’m leaving work and I hear “DADA!” screaming in the background, it gives me the biggest smile of the day.

It’s almost Spring now, and the weather is getting nicer and nicer. I can’t wait to take you outside so we can go running together in your stroller and play in the backyard where, if nothing else, there are fewer corners for your to find and more room for you to tornado around screeching as loud as your little Taby lungs desires.

Dad

 

On Kelly’s Hair Salon

What happens when a mom’s love meets a momfail, and one little boy’s locks are on the line!

Son,

Your mom loves you very much. And your dad has been known to be a little stingy when it comes to spending money. Your dad also has decided a long time ago that he is willing to spend money on a good haircut. Your mom also understands the value of a good haircut. That is why it doesn’t make any sense that we send you to “Kelly’s Hair Salon” every time you need to get your haircut.

So there’s that. But the other side of the coin is that your hair grows like weeds, and it doesn’t make sense to take you to a place to get your hair trimmed every two weeks. We did do that once, and you did really well, but the idea of taking you 20 mins away every two weeks will a.) have my hair girl not like me very much since she didn’t charge you for your first cut and b.) it’s too hard to fit into your schedule as quickly as your hair grows.

So what am I getting at? The other night, we took you to Kelly’s Hair Salon for your regular cut.

Kelly’s Hair Salon

  • Owner, stylist, and only employee: your mom
  • Motto: it’s good enough, right?
  • Location: upstairs bathroom
  • Perks: snacks and Youtube videos of Mickey Mouse and/orĀ BIG TRUCKS!

It’s a place like Cheers where everybody knows your name (and also knows your height, weight, favorite foods, etc. etc.). Normally you get what the motto suggests, but this past cut was something else entirely.

Here is you before the cut:

86565f22-bf32-4873-bfae-f2eed047d02f

Now you look like this:

lloyd_christmas_-_Google_Search.jpg

You see, your mom may have… just a teensy-weensy bit, more on one side than the other, kinddaaaa, Lloyd Christmas’d you. When we took you to get your haircut at the non-Kelly’s Hair Salon, your mom saw the hair girl doing some vertical scissor work, and she’s been on a quest to use the same style on you.

I will give her this. Before your last cut, you were looking pretty, pretty amish. Your mom would trim around your ears, but we like your long hair so we didn’t touch that, and the long hair up top caught up to the shorter hairs around your ears, thus giving you the amish bowl (sounds like a college football game in december between some D-3 schools in Pennsylvania). Make no mistake, the amish bowl is not something you want to be known for.

But then again, neither is the Lloyd Christmas. The good thing you have going for you is that you’re so cute you can pull it off. And as I’ve told her, the shape is good. It’s just the details that did this last cut in.

So where do we go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Your hair will grow back, but will you or I trust Kelly’s Hair Salon to not make the same mistake again? Do we give your mom a second chance or cut her hair privileges (see what I did there?)?

Time will tell….

img_0564
We might have to rock this look for the next few weeks until your hair grows back!

Love,

Your Dad

On Growing Up

Son,

There is going to be a time when you grow up. It seems like it happens a little bit each day, and I look back a month ago at who you were and it blows my mind how much you’ve changed. I think that growing up is something that is so much more apparent when you’re young, but seeing you grow into a little boy reminds me that we’re all growing up a little bit more each day.

There is going to be a time, maybe 18 or 19 years from now, when you and I sit down and listen to a John Mayer album called Continuum. The whole thing is about John growing up from your 20s into his 30s, but also about how that looks from his dad’s point of view. As we listen to the songs, I am going to remind you that while time feels like it drags on in the moment, there is a much bigger picture with a much bigger story to learn from.

Right now, you’re in the room next to me fighting a nap. You have your whole life in front of you and it’s been the best thing in the world seeing you grow from an infant into this little boy that I love so much. I think your mom wants to hit the pause button and keep you young forever, but I am most excited to learn, teach, and grow together with you.

Because that’s the thing. Until your mom and I got married, I kind of felt like I was growing on my own. I had my own things and sure, my parents guided me in a lot of ways, but I never felt like it was something that we did “together.” Then when your mom and I got together, it felt a little bit like we were on this single path. We stopped eating meat together. We focused on happiness, fitness, and then family. Now that you’re here, I feel like this whole new stage of growth is happening to all of us.

I love seeing you learn things by experiencing them. I love seeing you stand next to a door, look around, and decide whether or not to try stepping away from the door. I love seeing you laugh after you get everyone’s attention by clap-clap-clap — pause — and go about your business. You are going to be something else as you continue to grow, and I can’t wait to be by your side as long as you’ll let me.

Growing up is something that only seems to happen in the past. Plans, dreams, goals all happen ahead of us, but growth is only realized by looking backward. If I could teach you one thing, it would be that growth DOESN’T actually happen in the past, but it is a constant in our lives. You are growing all the time, developing all the time, and evolving into who you are and who you’re meant to be all the time. Growth leads us to where we want to go, and it’s so important to realize that as you make daily decisions in the present.

Now that you’re done fighting your nap and settled in, I’m also reminded that it is OK to slow down. Growth might be happening all the time, but we have to be OK to take a step back, take a good nap, and reset.

I love you with every part of who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’ll be. You are my absolute favorite thing and you always will be. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and understand that you can still grow up and be the goofy, super-smart, amazing person that you are and will always be.

-Dad