Monday, September 14, 2015

A letter to our future child(ren)

Dear future child(ren),

At this point in our lives, you are considered a "twinkle" in our eyes. Despite your status as not-yet-conceived, your father and I discuss you daily. I'd be lying if I said we didn't dream about you often. When we're at the park, we quietly talk about what it will be like when you are here to push in a stroller, catch at the end of the slide, and give "under dogs" on the swings.

Underneath that, we wonder about how you are going to bring your own sense of self into our team. In six years of marriage, if we've learned any sage advice worth passing along, it is that we are strongest as a family when we approach challenges and struggles as a team. Celebrations also mean more when you share them as a team.

Our team is very curious to know what kind of factors you will bring to the team. We know your early days may challenge the existing team a bit. We hope we have the endurance and teamwork to work through the early days of sleepless nights, seemingly-endless diaper changes, and hours of bouncing, swinging, rocking and soothing. We are also told that it is during these sleepless nights that we will also begin getting to really know you and witness your little personality emerging. I hope we have the right bounces and lullabies to soothe you. I hope we give you a sense of warmth and security. Most of all, I hope you feel fully welcomed into the team. I know it will be a process of getting to know you, but I hope you give us a little grace as we slowly learn what you like and what you need.

We can't wait to see our littlest team member begin to gain a little sense of independence. We know it will be hard at first to let go of little hands as you take your first unsteady steps. We hope you will let us know when it is safe to let you go. We can't wait to plan adventures. We're also big on stories, so I hope books and imaginative play are cool with you. We also love kids movies and museums -- we're glad you'll finally give us an excuse to go have fun, without looking like those two weird childless adults in the theater.

I wonder what you will be like as you start school. What your favorite subjects will be, and which ones will be your least favorite. If you'll be disciplined about finishing your homework after school or will need constant reminders. Although your father and I didn't get ourselves in too much trouble, I know we may need to field a phone call or two from your teachers. I hope we have the problem-solving skills to help you navigate whatever comes into your path. One bonus you have with our team -- your mom has reading and writing covered, while your dad is great at math. Be patient with us when you have to explain lessons to us. Although our team is enthusiastic, we will have forgotten a few of the things you're bringing home for homework. Google is everyone's best friend in that situation.

As you enter high school, we will probably be understandably shocked when you go on your first date at 15, and realize that I was that ripe old age when I started dating your father. Although we will only joke about locking you in the attic until you're 30, we will be equal parts scared and ecstatic when that time comes. I hope you know that we will want to ask a few questions of your date and get to know him or her a bit -- and you'll think we're doing this just to embarrass you. We'll be just as worried that we're making fools out of ourselves by asking questions but we know we have to do what we can to ensure your safety. While at the same time rapidly continuing to help you construct sturdy wings to flee our nest. There is no manual for this. We will make mistakes. We don't make any promises to be the "cool" parents, but we will be there -- always -- when you need us.

We know you will make mistakes, too. And we will search our hearts and minds to balance our worries with your yearning for independence. We hope we can deliver those hard conversations successfully. You'll probably go through a period of hating us and thinking we haven't done enough. This will understandably break our hearts. Your mother will know this is the painful growing process of individuation, but I promise you she will shed a few quiet tears about it anyway. We will wait up for you when you're out with friends, partly because we're worried and because we hope you'll share stories with us when you come home. We will be thrilled when you still express interest in participating in family activities, even when we know you'd rather be with friends.

Then the day will come to move you away to college. Since you're still a twinkle in our eyes, I wonder how long this will be from now -- 18 years? 20? 18 years seems like such a short time to enjoy your youth while also preparing you for the next 70+ years of life that lies ahead of you. We will move you into your dorm, gathering all of the parent info cards, making sure to talk to your RA and finding out about all of the resources on campus. We will put on a brave and confident face for you that day and try to save our tears for when it's just the two of us on the long drive back home.

Did you know we have talked about these dreams for each phase of your life before you're even here? We wonder how your life will play out. We know you will teach us more about development and ourselves than we could even pretend to know now. It feels like so much pressure to plan for the next 18 years without even getting to know you first. Maybe you'll figure out college isn't in the cards for you. Maybe you'll be born with something unique about you which radically changes the original script we set for your life in the "you will... and I will... and we will..." conversations your father and I have had on long drives, and in the park, and while waiting at the airport.

You are not even conceived yet, but we talk about you so often. We hope we're ready to be your parents. We both have wellness visits scheduled with our doctors to begin planning the process to start our family. Which feels very scary.

We've planned for you for the past 13 years we have been together. But being this close to meeting you feels like we've entered completely brand-new territory. We know you will challenge us, turn our hair gray, and pull from us a sense of love and purpose that we cannot even begin to understand at the present moment.

We're ready to add a new addition to our team. We're waiting. We hope to see two little pink lines soon, but we also know that the best things in life are worth waiting for.

With Love, Your Anxious Parents