A Letter To My Children-2011

Dear Children,

It is May 19, 2011. Ten days ago we celebrated my 42nd birthday. It was not my favorite birthday, not by a long shot. Truth is for a host of reasons I consider it to be among the worst birthdays I have had. I thought about listing the reasons here so that in the years that come it will be clear as to why I feel this way but I don’t really think it is necessary.

One of the most important skills that you can develop as you grow is learning how to distinguish what is important and what isn’t. I won’t be the first person nor the last to tell you that one of the great contradictions of life is that moments of wonder and amazement are sometimes bookended by the direct opposite. You have already seen that sometimes the little things can turn your day upside down. The question is how those little things impact you.

You have far more power over your lives than you realize. When you are kid it doesn’t always feel that way. There is always someone telling you what to do and how to do it. Some of those things seem ridiculous but you have to do them anyway. Look, I am not a huge fan of making the bed either. I get it, we are just going to get back in and mess up the sheets so why make it. Well, aside from the aesthetics I would say that you do it because it really isn’t worth fighting over. This ties into my comment above about learning how to distinguish what is important and what isn’t.

It is not always easy. We are fighters by birth and by choice. I understand that fire in the belly because I have it too. When things don’t go the way that we want them to we fight to change it. Sometimes that is a really good quality and sometimes it is the thing that will make you miserable.  I have bloodied my knuckles on more one brick wall. You have heard my friends kid around about how I opened a steel can with my hands. It is a true story. I tore that can open with a combination of brute strength and thought.

But what I want for you is to reverse that. Use thought and then brute strength. Take a deep breath, review, evaluate and then proceed.  There will be plenty of times when it makes more sense to act and not react to situations. But there are times when the opposite is true. There are moments where you need to be present. Moments I want you to live and revel in. Don’t hold back, give yourself to it and take it in.

Don’t let fear stop you from going after what you want. I have failed many times and will probably fail some more. Failure sucks. It hurts and sometimes I hate it. But failure doesn’t have to be about bitterness. It is a useful education because how you respond to failure impacts everything you do. It is an education that I hope you learn from. Failure is a teacher. In specific situations it provides a lesson on how not to do something but on a broader level it provides you with examples of how you get back up after you have fallen.

Don’t mistake the importance of being able to look at the past and how you figured out how to stand again. It may sound counterintuitive but past moments of doubt and pain sometimes provide the strength to get through the current ones. They remind you that you didn’t lie down and die. And believe me, some people do. Some people never figure out how to deal with getting punched in the mouth- but you will and you have.

Never forget that your father loves you fiercely. We will fight about things. Sometimes my fear for you may manifest itself in ways that seem ridiculous- deal with it. I’ll do my best to be rational and supportive but sometimes I’ll miss the boat. One day you’ll understand that better.

So let’s step back into the present moment again. My goal is to try and write these letters every year. Time will tell if that actually happens or not. But I can almost guarantee that I will write them as I do now, unscripted and based solely upon the thoughts I have while I am writing.

My life has been filled with more turmoil than I would like. It has been going on for a while now and I see that some of the storms that I have been sailing through are still here.  I don’t know exactly what that means other than life is going to get interesting and some big changes are coming. All I can tell you is that I am fighting hard to keep that tiller pointed towards the horizon. Daylight will come and the seas will calm because they always do. It is just a question of when. So know that if I seem preoccupied it is because I am. But that is because I am trying to do things for you.

I don’t write that to make you feel guilty or to assuage guilt of my own. Most of the crap that I am dealing with is outside of my control and something that many others are dealing with. It is not personal, but I still have to face it.  That is just part of the fun. Ok, I have babbled on long enough. Time to end this with nothing more than I love you.


  1. arelis cintron says

    My Children aren’t born yet but I think I will write them tons of letters on my blog :) Thanks for sharing this! I hope 2012 was a better year :)

    stopping by from Write on Edge

  2. Kelly K says

    I have also written posts to my children, though only once. This was wonderful and honest.

    And sometimes, birthdays suck.

    I see this is from last year. Did you continue the tradition with another letter for 2012?

    I hope the 43rd birthday was better.


    • says

      Hi Kelly,

      Yes, I wrote another letter this year. I think I have done around five of these. I have come to really enjoy them.

      My 43rd was better, thank you for asking. I really appreciate it.

  3. Marcie says

    Such a beautiful way in which your children can get to know you as the whole person that you are. Love this post..and happy birthday!

    • says

      Thank you. That is one of the goals of these letters and this blog. It is a chance for the kids to get to know me in a way they never would have. It is something that I would have liked to have done with my folks.

  4. says

    What an absolutely moving letter. I love your honesty.
    I love “You have more power over your lives than you realize” What an important lesson to teach any child.
    I’ll keep that one for when my little miss is old enough to understand.
    Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Louise,
      Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them. I have adopted the practice of writing a letter to my children every year. It is a way to give my kids sort of a glimpse at what things looked like during specific moments in time.
      I though it might be both fun and interesting for them. Hope you will visit again real soon.

  5. says

     “Take a deep breath, review, evaluate and then proceed.”

    The world would be a far better place if more people took this thought to heart.

    I’ve been writing sporadic letters to Jack, but like the thought of doing annual ones to him on his birthday. So you inspired me there. (A nicer way to say I’m stealing your idea. I could write one to you every year too, if you’d like.”

    • says

      @AlanTK:disqus  The deep breath and review bit is advice to me as much as it is to my kids.  I don’t think that we could term your actions theft as I neglected to copyright and or patent my idea. I only wish that I was the first to come up with it.
      And yes, if you would like you can write a letter to me every year too. ;)

  6. says

     I love this.  I have 2 notebooks, one for each kid, sitting in my office.  They are for my letters, the ones I hope will tell them more about me than they see.  The lessons spelled out for them on paper, as i want to tell them.  
    I think what you are doing is great.
    Happy birthday.
    Came from TRDC.

    • says

      @1a80a007fac8a08a70ccfec97f624aed:disqus  Thanks for the birthday wishes. I think that two folders is very cool. It is very similar to what I hope my kids get out of my blog. It will be a while before they gain access.
      But as you mention I hope that it shows them a different part of me.

  7. Anonymous says

    What an honest letter! This is my first visit, and I’ll be poking around to see what else you have.

    Happy birthday!

  8. says

     Sometimes I wonder what my mom would REALLY say to me if I gave her the chance. This letter is really great and I hope your kids get to read it sometime.

    I also hope the stuff you’re going through passes quickly and that you end up the better for it.

    • says

      @apeekatkarensworld:disqus  Hi Karen I have often wondered the same thing. Our parents have seen us undergo so many things they have a different sort of perspective on who we are.
      Thanks for the good wishes. As they say, this too shall pass. 

  9. says

    Your kids are so lucky…I wish a had a yearly letter from my Dad, sigh. They’ll understand someday.

    When I was a kid, I figured out pretty early that my Dad wasn’t perfect and sometimes I just had to do what he told me to do instead of argue about why. I can’t remember how old I was, but I once discovered my Dad slumped down in his work truck eating a burger, fries, and frosty from Wendy’s. We were supposed to be on a very healthy eating plan (only raw sugar, carob not chocolate, fish and spinach at every meal, etc.). He didn’t throw out his junk food or offer me a bite. He just asked me to do him a favor and keep this secret to myself. I did, until just now!  

    • says

       @marianneworley:disqus I love that story. Some of my favorite stories as a child and as a father come from these quiet moments with a parent/child.

      FWIW, the plan isn’t to give the kids these letters for a good long while. I think that they’ll get more use out of them when they have a bit more seasoning. ;)


  1. [...] I have to let you know that I haven’t made as much progress as I would have hoped or liked to. It is not quite like last year but it is not where I want it to be [...]

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