To my dearest son,
As I write you on your second birthday, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the amount of love I have for you and the joy you bring to my life. If these past two years are any indication as to how fast time moves, you will be riding your first school bus and going to your first school dance in the blink of an eye.
Having you as my precious child makes me aware of the pressure boys face in our world today. Young men are raised to wear emotionless masks of toughness. Phrases like “sack up,” “be a man” and “grow a pair” echo through locker rooms. My prayer is for you to be confident in your emotions and comfortable in your skin. My prayer is for you to know tears do not mean weak. In our home, being brave means being who we are because being true to yourself and how you feel is the bravest thing you can do. I want you to be brave in vulnerability and honest in authenticity.
In the years ahead, you will make new friends and lose some along the way. You will date and have your heart broken. You will have coaches and teammates who encourage you and some who try to tear you down. You will encounter bullies who pick on you or maybe you will bully someone else. The world will tell you over and over again to ‘be brave’ and ‘suck it up,’ but I will raise you to know otherwise. While I would give the world to protect you from being hurt and sad, I want to give you a greater gift and sit with you through the sadness. I promise to provide you a loving home that allows you to be YOU, giving you the freedom to grow and supporting you through life’s growing pains.
Your dad and I will always love you for you, not for how you look or because you can hit golf ball a mile. You must walk your own path, but I promise to walk beside you every step of the way. My love for you will never waiver. No matter how many times you fall, I will be there to lend a hand and help you back up. And when it seems like the whole world is telling you to ‘shake it off,’ I want you to have the ‘guts’ to be vulnerable, the ‘spine’ to shed a tear and most of all have the ‘balls’ to BE YOU.
Happy birthday, my sweet Hurricane Manning. I love you to the moon and back and back again.