We shared this one year ago. Today… he turns 11. Today… it just felt appropriate again.
On Sunday, you turned 10. Every year I say I can’t believe it, but the double digits… those are hard. It was a decade ago. August 16, 2005 at 12:21 pm that our lives were changed forever.
I knew for the first time, what everyone was always talking about. Why parents are always so seemingly obnoxious, because I became one. And this beautiful, hilarious, clever little boy turned our worlds inside out. You’ve taught us so much.
On Saturday, we began our weekend celebration of your big day. It was filled with birthday pancakes and bedheads, and legos and puppies. And a meal at your favorite Mexican restaurant with Papa and Gigi. We kept it simple and low key and I think it was one of your favorites.
We try our best to embrace every day, but this year, I find my heart aching with that bittersweet emotion of you growing up. Just one more year. Just a little more time has passed. But I want to stop time. We can’t believe you’ve gotten so big.
On the eve before your birthday, you got a little teary eyed as we tucked you in. You told us you don’t want to grow up. I know you won’t always feel that way, and we don’t want you to be sad. But for me, this was perfect. Because there’s so much of who you are now, that we pray you keep with you. You have so much to look forward to, and you don’t even know it yet.
We know that parenthood never ends, and we’re grateful for that. But there’s something about ten that makes us feel like we’re half way there. Only ten more before you’re twenty. To moving out from under our roof. To figuring it out. Or at least the beginning of it.
If we’re doing anything right – and probably so many things wrong – we want you to know that you’re loved and absolutely treasured and one of our biggest pride and joys. The greatest of three gifts we will ever be given, and for that we are forever grateful.
So we decided to compile a little list of things we want you to know. That we hope we’re teaching you. Things that we’re working on in our own lives. We know we’re far from perfect. We know it’s not a comprehensive list, because that would be a novel. And that’s why parenting is parenting.
But today we thought we’d include some of our favorite life lessons.
Halfway there: a few things we hope you learn.
• Compassion is a strength. Not a weakness. While the world will tell you to look out for yourself no matter who gets hurt, don’t lose sight of what makes you, you. You’re one of the most compassionate, sensitive, empathetic kids we know. We pray you keep that compassion, always. It makes you strong in a very weak world.
• Every life has value and a purpose. Find the unique beauty in everyone and everything. Life is boring when lived with the mundane belief others can’t be inspired to reach beyond their comfort zones.
• Life is unpredictable, and messy and hard. Embrace all of it, because it’s the bad and the good that makes you who you are.
• Always have a pet. Love and care for animals. They teach you so much, and are the best therapy around.
• Laugh at yourself. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Our time here is too short. Keep that priceless sense of humor, and let people see it.
• Always hold the door. Always. And while you’re at it, greet them with a smile too.
• A little patience goes a long way and will save you from foolish choices. So many foolish choices.
• Learn to cook. We can’t wait to show you. Your stomach, and your future spouse will adore you for it.
• One of the greatest super powers you can possess, is hard work. It’s a fact lost on many, so don’t wait for it to happen. Go for it. Dig in. Never give up.
• Friendships aren’t always about seeing perfectly, eye to eye. Compromise, the good kind, is a fine art.
• Always take the time to say thank you.
• Be a good friend. You won’t regret it.
• You may not always get along with your brother and sister, and that’s okay. They will be annoying and you will annoy them, even as adults. We won’t expect you to always get along, because you’re not perfect. They have already taught you so much that you will carry with you the rest of your life. At the end of the day, they are a priceless gift. So remember to love them, even when you don’t always like them very much.
• Be okay with crying. It reminds you that you’re human.
• Strive to stay humble. Braggers don’t make good friends. Neither do humble braggers.
• Be an encourager to others. It’s an important job that people forget.
• Here’s a secret: It doesn’t really matter if you ‘excel’ in school, or get super fabulous grades. What matters is that you work your absolute hardest, and try your very best. Never stop learning, no matter what. Because your education and learning will never stop, and often happens best outside the halls of academia. Don’t underestimate the value in constantly learning new things. Or the value of being self-taught.
• Find your passion and don’t let go. We support you one hundred and ten percent no matter what that passion looks like. That, and hard work… will take you places.
• You won’t be good at everything. You may stumble a lot until you find that delicate combination of your God-given talents and that heart to pursue them. But when you find it, grab hold with everything you’ve got.
• Guilt is cheap and easy to come by. People use it liberally. Live by your own convictions, not someone else’s small-sighted manipulations or expectations. Guilt can be exhausting if you give in to its negative energy.
• Be kind. When you don’t want to be kind… strive to be. Always look for the person who’s left out. Being kind is rare. It keeps you real and humble. It makes you relatable and empathetic. Too many times we just really miss the boat on that one because we become so absorbed in ourselves.
• Everyone has their own set of baggage and insecurities. Their own parents made mistakes, but they were doing the best they could with the best that they knew how. It’s hard. Life is hard for everyone. Remember that when you’re frustrated.
• Don’t allow room for regret in your life. Mistakes and failures happen and are an education. An education is never wasted. Nothing grand was ever achieved without failure. Embrace your failure.
• Pick up the check on a date. Always pick up the check.
• Being a man, isn’t defined by athletic ability or the size of your muscles, but by the size of your heart.
• Don’t take life so seriously.
• Being offended by everything is absolutely exhausting and not worth your energy. There are far more productive things on which to spend your time.
• Boundaries are okay. More than okay. Even with family. Okay fine. Especially with family.
• Collect books. Real live, paper bound hard bound, vintage and new books. The printed form is becoming a lost art. You have a love for reading we pray is instilled in all of our children. Books are one lifetime investment you won’t regret keeping with you.
• Don’t allow a person or place or collection of events to make you bitter. That’s in your power, even if it’s a struggle. Shake the dust off your feet and move on. Trust us.
• Don’t overshare on social media. Or become overly opinionated on subjects that don’t really concern you because you can hide behind a computer screen. It’s a rampant disease. Maybe social media will be called something else by the time you’re old enough… but keep it as your mantra. It’s also not worth the energy.
• Take out the garbage, before it’s too late and your space is stinky. This is also true in life and relationships. Some relationships can be toxic.
• Don’t judge others. We don’t know where they came from. Or what they’ve been through. So just don’t. It’s wasted time and energy.
• No one else is responsible for your actions. They’re your choices. It’s only 1% what others do to you and 99% how you react. So own up to them. You’ll be better for it.
• Honesty is a rarity. Stay genuine.
• Not everyone will like you. It’s impossible to please everyone. Be okay with that. You’ll save yourself lots of wasted energy.
• No one can make you feel like you’re not enough, measuring up, or lacking, without your permission. Remember that when you’re dealing with difficult people.
• Always wear your seatbelt.
• Keep your apologies simple and genuine. No excuses.
• The world is bigger than where you live. And your worldview should be, too. Don’t stay in one place your entire life. Get out and experience the world. Soak up other cultures. Embrace the good in them. There’s so much to learn in so little time… and so many perspectives. It’s silly to think ours is the only one.
• The world is also very temporary. So remember that, too.
• Learn the value of being content. The grass is only greener on the other side because you aren’t responsible for cutting the grass, or scooping the poop.
• They say you can’t come home again. It’s true that things change, because they need to. But the heart of who you are will always be here with us. You’ll always have our support and unconditional love, no matter what.
Never forget that.
We love you so much, sweet boy. And even if we’re “halfway there”, we look forward to the rest of our time here, and cherish it with a deep gratitude, daily.
Looking forward to watching you for sixty more. ;}