Category: Musings

A letter to my daughter on her first birthday

My dearest Elizabeth,

I can’t believe we’re here already. It feels like yesterday that I got to hold you for the first time.

You are growing ever more beautiful, and you’re smart – I stand amazed at how you figure out new things each day. You’re becoming your own little person, and as difficult as it is to admit you’re my little baby a little less every day, that is something incredible to behold.

As the Psalmist said, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The world has become a bit more scary in the past year, but every day good things happen as well, if you know where to look for them. This past year we’ve embarked on a grand adventure, moving to a new home with new things for you to see and do. I’m sorry for all the stress and disruption it caused you, but you did brilliantly. I’m so proud of you.

You’ve learned what it is to be hurt, tired, uncomfortable, and frightened. But I know you also know what it feels like to be loved, to be cared for, and to be safe, though you can’t name those feelings yet. You’ve learned that if you call, someone comes, and that’s much more than many people know.

You were born knowing how to cry, but you’ve since learned to laugh, something you do every day, and it’s the most beautiful sound that exists in this universe. I understand why that’s the sound the story says gives birth to fairies…

There’s a big year ahead of you. A year in which you’ll learn to walk and talk, and start to take care of yourself in little ways. You’ll learn to make choices, and with that you’ll make mistakes. It will be a while still before you’ll learn about regret, but in the coming year you’ll definitely start learning about consequences, even if you won’t quite understand them yet.

I want you to know that I’ll be there each step of the way. I won’t always do the right thing. Some days I’ll act without thinking. Some days I’ll hurt you without meaning to. But I’ll do everything I can to be there when you need me, to teach you and guide you and protect you.

This parenting thing is very much a case of making it up as you go along, but you seem happy, so I think we’re doing it right. I can only hope one day when you read this that you’ll agree with me.

Happy Birthday, my child, and good luck with the next year of your life. It’s gonna be awesome.

With all my love,

Dad

Discovering my lacunae

Yesterday we went to the mall. I know, between month end and extended Black Friday specials (cause apparently that’s now a thing in SA) it’s insanity. But the wife has been going stir crazy from her maternity leave, and we had woken up to the news that her grandmother had passed, so I decided getting out of the house was more important than avoiding the crowds.

We just strolled aimlessly through the shops, not looking for anything specific (our Christmas shopping was completed weeks ago already), but I quickly became frustrated.

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A letter to my daughter on her first day on Earth

My dearest Elizabeth,

Today is your first day on Earth. Today you breathed air for the first time, and moments later I got to hear your first scream. I held you in my arms when you first opened your eyes, and for the first time you fell asleep in my arms.

I wish I could keep you like this always, safe in my arms and sheltered from all the ugliness in the world, but I can’t. You will grow up, much sooner than I want you to, and come face to face with the hurts of this world.

Your mother and I did you a disservice in a way, bringing you into this world, as it is a crazy and terrible place. It’s a world where people believe it’s okay to hate others just because they look, think or believe differently than you. It’s a world where people put themselves first, without a thought of how their actions might hurt those around them. It’s a world where greed and dishonesty is rewarded and integrity only brings you trouble.

It’s a world in which you will be hurt, and as much as I want to protect you from it, I know I’ll never be able to. I’m just not strong enough.

I might even cause more than a little share of the hurt you will experience in your life.

And for that I apologise.

But I want you to know two things of which you can be certain:

First, I love you. I love you more than I have words to describe. I only met you a few hours ago but I already know that I can never stop loving you, even if I tried. I can’t protect you from this world, but I will do everything in my power to try and do it anyway, because I’m your father and that’s what dads do (the good ones, anyway, and I really hope I’m one of those).

And second, this world is an incredible place. I know, I know. A moment ago I called it…I think my exact words were “crazy and terrible”. But at the same time it’s also filled with beauty and wonder.

You were born on a Tuesday. We drove to hospital in the early morning hours with a full moon overhead, and the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky all day long. A couple weeks ago I spent an hour watching two eagles circle over our home. It has mountains and forests and deserts, and I can’t wait to introduce you to the sea.

On the day you were born someone stood for what they believe in, sacrificed for the sake of others, spoke out against injustice, followed their dreams.

A wise man once named the three greatest virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. If you cultivate these in your life and let them shape the way you view the world, it will never beat you down. Not for good, anyway – you’ll always be able, and more importantly, find a reason to get back up.

I only hope you can see these virtues in my life in the brief moment in time we have together.

I feel like I should end with some profound advice, but I’m pretty sure in the coming year you are going to prove that everything I thought I knew is complete poppycock, so let’s leave advice until next year. (Assuming you’re not the one giving me advice by then.)

Love, Dad

Have a great 2016 y’all

Yes, in a total break with tradition on if all else fails… I’m actually writing my New Year’s post on New Year’s day. I said things were going to be different this year.

And to shake things up even further, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution. Not an intention, but an actual Resolution, with a capital ‘R’.

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