A Letter To My Children-2012

Dear Children,

It is May 7, 2012. We’ll celebrate my 43rd birthday on Wednesday and 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 either.

If you asked me to try and describe what things are like for me I would tell you that there are moments where I feel like a gladiator. It is just me against whomever and whatever is placed in this cage.

There are moments where I feel like you are all standing on my shoulders and I am walking underwater, fighting to keep your heads above the flood waters that are rising. Don’t feel badly about this and don’t praise me either.

This is what I do. This is what I signed up to do. I crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s. I signed my name and jumped feet first into the fire knowing full well that I knew everything and that I knew nothing

When I told you that we were going to sell our house you both cried and begged me not to do it. You yelled at me and said that it wasn’t fair. You told me that there had to be a different way and asked why I wasn’t crying. You told me that because I wasn’t emotional I didn’t care.

I Did Care

That wasn’t true. I did care and I do care. It hurt to sell that place more than I can tell you.  I have been back there twice. I drove there at night and sat outside. I stared at it and remembered a million things.

I don’t have to list who was made in that home or how many first memories there are. You won’t really appreciate some of this until you get to be a bit older and I am ok with that. Truth is that I am not writing this part for you as much as I am for me.

That is because your old man is frustrated. I wish that we would have sold it sooner. I think that we could have avoided some of the crazy moments that we have been through now but I also know enough to know that I can’t say that with any certainty.

It is like when you ask me whether I could have been a doctor or a lawyer. I could have and I still could. Forty-three isn’t old. I have a lot of time but that is not how I want to spend it.

And that is the lesson for this moment.

You can’t control everything that happens to you. You can’t ever plan for everything. That old line about “shit happens” is more accurate than anyone likes to admit.

Go read My Great Sadness and or Four Generations & A Wedding. Read Eight Years Later or Streets of Philadelphia. Those posts talk about burying one of my best friends, the time I had to fly cross country because your grandfather lay dying on a ventilator and the time I had to tell my grandfather that my uncle has died.

You can’t possibly imagine how hard it is to tell a parent they have lost a child. You never forget that. I only wish that my grandparents were still here to see you two. I only wish that grandpa and I could sit on the porch and talk like we used to.

Forever Young

You may look at the first section of this post as being self indulgent but that isn’t the purpose or reason. This is me, this is dad trying to reach out to you from across time and say that there is so much to learn in life that it never ends.

It never ends and I never want it to- neither should you. There should always be a list of thing you want to learn about. It shouldn’t be a list of things that I want to teach my children but things you want to learn.

Find your passion and go after it. Figure out what makes you want to wake up and go get it. Remember that life is a journey and don’t get caught up in the spiderwebs of muck and mire.

Yeah, things are hard now. It is not a secret but they aren’t as bad as they could be and they will get better because we are making it happen. Don’t expect the cavalry to save you. You know that I will always be there and that if you need me I will find a way to help but don’t rely upon it.

Rely upon yourselves and lean on each other. Trust in your ability to figure it out. That is part of how I know things will get better because I have seen it happen. I have made it happen.

Get a little more life experience under your belt and you’ll see. You’ll also see that time takes on new meaning. A year or a few bad years won’t be as big a deal. It is not great but it doesn’t have to define you.

You define you. You set your own rules. You figure out what you want and go get it.

One More Thing

I don’t know where we will be or what we will be doing when you gain access to this but I know that we will be different. I hope that one of the differences is that we have all become who we want to be and are not what life made us be.

I love you more than you know and I always will,


This is part of Just Write, #34 and Yeah Write #56.

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  1. Christine May 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    This is extraordinary. I relate to so much of this.
    Fairly different circumstances but really similar themes.
    I’m 43 also. Maybe it’s the age??
    Beautiful piece, Jack. I love how unflinchingly you look at the tough stuff. Or, at least, what I consider “the tough stuff.”

    • TheJackB May 13, 2012 at 8:47 pm

       @Christine@QuasiAgitato Hi Christine. Some of it has to be age related. We are not kids but not old, we are somewhere in between.
      In some ways it feels a bit like junior high to me. We have come far enough to know a lot but there are still things that we can’t quite reach. The difference to me is that I know what those things are and back then I didn’t.
      I appreciate the kind words. I figure that we should face the hard stuff and see what comes of it, maybe we figure out a way around it.

  2. penneyfox May 10, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I love the idea of writing a letter to our children. Looks like you’ve done this before as I can see the related posts. I’ve thought about this many many times as my son has gotten older and has been asking questions about the divorce.
    He was too young to understand all the crap that happened between his father and myself. All he knew was that his world turned upside, both of his parents started living apart, daddy was mad because mommy left him and mommy freaked out a lot for a couple of years. Some days I feel bad for him to have to deal with all these grown-up emotions and not quite understand the depth behind them.
    But I like this idea … I’m going to let that one marinate in my head for awhile ….
    BTW – I celebrated my birthday last week. It’s ones of those mid-decade birthdays where there’s a five after the four (that’s how a lady tells her age 🙂 ) and I can’t believe I’m this age. Seems like it was yesterday I was in my 20’s. Anyway, happy early birthday to a fellow Taurus!

    • TheJackB May 11, 2012 at 1:33 am

       @penneyfox Happy Birthday.
      I am biased but I am a big fan of these letters. I think that they provide an opportunity to try and shed some light on things that our children might need to know at some point..
      There is a legitimate question of when these should be shared, but overall I think they offer something special and nice for them to have later on.

  3. Robbie May 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    fantastic letter full of honesty and wonderful advice. I love that you do this.

    • Jack May 10, 2012 at 1:35 am

      Hi Robbie,

      Thank you. The children deserve to have more answers about some things than they do now. They don’t need it today, but one day…

  4. Adrienne May 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    There’s so much emotion in this letter. Did you actually let them read it? I hope so. I loved when you wrote “find your passion and go after it”. I’m trying to do that now.

    • Jack May 10, 2012 at 1:33 am

      Hi Adrienne,

      No, they haven’t read it yet but I expect they will…one day. I don’t think they are ready for it yet.

      I do want to them to figure out what their passion is and to go for it. That makes a huge difference in our lives.

  5. Jonathan May 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Hi Jack!

    This is so sad. But, it’s an important lesson to tell your children. Personally, I’ve moved 13 times in my life (from the ages 5-18). I’ve never had a real home. And, I think one suggestion of a type of advice I can say is this “things come and go all the time, it is something that is expected.” I think learning this at a very young age, your children will be able to live a fuller life and will be able to handle anything which comes in the future. You’re doing a great job. All the best. All the best (:

    • Jack May 10, 2012 at 1:25 am

      Hi Jonathan,

      13 times is quite a bit. Did you switch schools each time? That would be very challenging. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be quite difficult at times.

  6. Susie Newday May 9, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Wow-what an honest and powerful letter. One that I am sure your kids will cherish when they are parents.

  7. brahm (alfred lives here) May 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I love this post… made me think and feel and want to call my family. Well some of them. Oh hell I am seeing them all this weekend I can catch them up then. All of them, at once…. oh yeah.

    Great piece though…. Thanks for posting!

  8. Julie May 9, 2012 at 9:05 am

    “Best” to you, on your birthday 🙂 For real.

    I am telling my kids about the house right now, so they are ready in a few months when it is G.O.N.E. It is just “stuff” and they are far more important.

    “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny” – Bruce

    You can do it, whatever “it” turns out to be, exactly…nothing is more boring than status quo. OTOH the ship has to stop rockin and rollin at some stage. So, here’s to that.

    • Jack May 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Julie,

      Oh, we are back to “best” are we. 😉

      You are right about it being just ‘stuff’ and that does help take some of the sting away, but it takes some time.

      Sooner or later the storms shall pass and we’ll get to lie in a bit of sunlight for a while, hopefully sooner than later. 😉

  9. Michelle Longo May 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

    There is a great deal of good advice in there. This was a powerful piece.

  10. Ado May 9, 2012 at 5:47 am

    “don’t get caught up in the spider webs of muck and mire…”
    some good advice there. (-:

  11. Kathy Kramer May 9, 2012 at 4:49 am

    I have a letter I would like to write to my son. This post reminded me of that. I think we all want our kids to understand or not make the mistakes we did. Lovely post. 🙂

    • Jack May 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Kathy,

      I hope you write that letter and I agree that it would be wonderful if we can help our kids not make those mistakes. Here is to all of that.

  12. tara pohlkotte May 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    let’s keep writing our children. allowing them to meet us through our words. you do such beauty here with your words. to the truth of the now, and the hope for the future.

  13. Delilah May 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    So touching! Your children will treasure this letter one day.

  14. Katie May 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    A well-written and realistic letter. I loved your last paragraph especially. Your children will certainly treasure this one day.

  15. Mel May 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Wow. So heart felt. What lucky kids you have.

  16. WilyGuy May 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    That was intense. Great stuff.

  17. Mayor Gia May 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Aw, what a great letter. Your kids will appreciate it one day..

  18. Melissa Cohen May 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    What a beautiful post – and what a wonderful idea! I love the thought of writing a letter to my kids – which is really what my blog is, anyway, but making one specific letter is an amazing idea 🙂

    • Jack May 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Melissa,

      Thank you. Sometimes I’ll ask my folks about a particular time/moment in their lives and they’ll tell me that they don’t remember it.

      So I thought that it might useful for my kids to have something specific from me. It also helps to make sure that they see that nothing lasts forever.

  19. Dude of the House May 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    “You define you.” That’s about right.

    Happy birthday.

    • Jack May 9, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Hey Dude,

      Thank you for the birthday wishes. It really is up to us to define ourselves because ultimately our definition is a big part of what determines whether we are happy or not.

  20. christina May 8, 2012 at 10:34 am

    oh man, i’m in tears right now. your kids are so very incredibly lucky to have you. wow.

  21. Sensible Moms May 8, 2012 at 8:49 am

    This is not the first time someone has written a letter to their kids, but this one touched me. Honest writing and deeply emotional, it was a great read. Thanks, Erin

  22. James May 8, 2012 at 8:20 am

    It’s hard being a parent. Especially when children don’t understand how things really are. Actually, I think every person has its reality, that’s why not even grown-ups don’t always understand each other.

    • Jack May 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      Hi James,

      We all most certainly have our own reality that is colored by our own experiences. It is hard sometimes to relate to certain things because they don’t always jive with what we have experienced.

      • James May 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

        Hey, Jack. Thanks for your reply. I’m glad you agree – it’s only on our power to make others see the way we think, what’s our reality. Usually communication resolves such “conflicts”.

  23. LADY GOO GOO GAGA May 8, 2012 at 7:58 am

    so sweet – I cried when my parents sold their house too –
    Looking back it was self-centered – I wasn’t thinking of how difficult it must have been for them….

    • Jack May 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Hi Lady,

      I am not upset or angry about my kids having cried about the house. I expected it. One day they’ll see it differently. It is just how it goes.

  24. Adrienne May 8, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I agree as well with everyone else Jack. That’s just beautiful and I do hope your kids appreciate your words some day. I wish my Dad had written more in his early days but I always wrote them. There were never any words left unsaid.

    Love this message Jack and I’m sure your family will as well. So here is wishing you an early Happy Birthday! May this week be a fabulous one.


    • Jack May 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      After all of the wonderful stories you have told about your father I am willing to bet that he shared his thoughts with you all the time, albeit in a different manner than letters.

      Thank you for the birthday greeting. Hope you have a great week.

  25. kristin May 8, 2012 at 6:39 am

    I write letters to my kid too. I sometimes wonder if he’ll ever really get it until he has his own children.

    • Jack May 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      Hi Kristin,

      I think that our kids will appreciate these letters but that they won’t really understand them until they become parents.

  26. Jeff Wise May 8, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Great letter to your kids! I read the book, “Letters From Dad” a few years ago and haven’t acted on it yet.

    I really need to start writing letters to my wife and kids and keep them in some sort of container to give them some day.

    • Jack May 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      Hi Jeff,

      I am a big fan of letter writing…obviously. It was a bit awkward at first but the more I do it the easier it has become. It is kind of fun.

  27. Gina May 8, 2012 at 5:27 am

    What a great letter to your kids. One day, they will enjoy reading all the posts you mentioned above. Very touching!!

    Happy Birthday…a few days early! Celebrate some!

  28. tommy riles May 8, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Wow, Jack. I’m so glad I read this. Really touching, and gave me a misty eye at 6:10AM.

    You’re a great dad, and hand in there, brother.


  29. Tricia May 8, 2012 at 4:51 am

    Beautiful. Your children are lucky to have you and, one day, these letters.

  30. JoAnn Jordan May 7, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Jack – I imagine your posts will become items your children treasure. Thank you for allowing us these insights into your life, your dreams, and your hopes.

  31. Stan Faryna May 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Beautiful, Jack. These letters to your children would make a book worthy of bookshelves and bedside tables. Everywhere.

  32. Sandi Amorim May 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    As a grown up child I’ve written letters to my parents from the other side. This post just reached out and tugged at my heart strings and while I’m generally ok with not being a mom, in this moment I’m a wee bit sad that I’m not.

    One of the qualities I most appreciate about your writing Jack is how you provoke emotion. Thanks for that.

    • Jack May 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Sandi,

      I have been thinking about your comments about potential since last night, especially as to how it could apply to my children. You have me thinking about that quite a bit.

      I appreciate your kind words. I try to just let go and let the words out.

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