As we pay tribute to Dads this week, I want to share a letter from Mike M. on our Engineering team. As he awaits the birth of his first baby – a girl – he talks openly about the goals he’s setting for himself as a father. I also want to give a special thank you to two special fathers in my life: My own dad and my husband, Ron. I only need to look at my two wonderful children to see what an impact both their father and grandfather have had on them.
I write this from home, knowing that your mom is past her due date, and you will arrive any day (or
minute) now. I write this because your mom and I have been planning your room, your name, your clothes and your care since the moment we learned you existed -- but I never sat down to plan the type of Dad I hope to be, to you, a person I haven’t even met, and yet I already love with my entire being.
Mom and I have been married for 5 years now and having kids was always part of the plan. But the dream is actually happening. And it’s so much heavier in reality. I’m going to raise a person -- a woman -- and I want to take this job more seriously than any job I’ve ever had. And I’m putting it in writing to hold myself accountable five, ten and 20 years from now.
First and foremost, I will be completely honest with you, now and forever. I won’t shelter you from this world, even the bad people in it. I will inform you, and educate you on the pros and cons of life choices, and let you create your own informed decisions. And when you ask me about my past, or my thoughts, I will tell you about the experiences (or lack of experience) that have led me to who and where I am today.
I promise to be supportive of your choices, even if I don’t understand them. Surely, you will disagree with me at times and create your own path in life. But I will greet each one with an open mind, even if your hair is dyed fluorescent pink and you’ve started habits I don’t find healthy. I will tell you how I feel and that will be that. And if you ever change your mind, I won’t be an “I told you so” parent. Instead, I will hug you and ask “what did you learn from that? And “how did it make you feel?” And I will thank you for talking to me.
I will work to connect with you emotionally. I believe that every behavior has a reason behind it. And whether you’ve intentionally ruined my favorite running shirt or are struggling at school, I will try to understand where you are coming from. I want you to feel like your Dad “gets” you, as much as I possibly can.
I vow to treat every circumstance with patience and understanding. When I’m super tired and you wake up unexpectedly, I hope to always greet you with a smile. And when you’re a teenager and you’ve snuck out the window to meet a friend I despise, I will find you, and instead of yelling, I will patiently listen to your argument before I inflict punishment. Yes, there will be consequences for certain bad choices, but they will be fairly thought out.
I want you to always feel like my top priority in life. Time is an issue for everyone. I barely feel like I have enough now. But you and our family have already become my main focus. Due to a heavy commute at peak hours, I have already shifted my work schedule so that I can work from 6:30a.m to 3:30 p.m., and be home with you and mom more. And no amount of money would take me to a job that didn’t allow parents some flex time. I will always make time for you, and any siblings you might have one day.
I aim to raise you with a foundation of compassion. Compassion for people, animals, and all other sentient beings is something I strongly believe and hope you learn from me. What I do and what I say will be consistent.
I will focus on building your self-confidence. I want you to be proud of yourself at all times. You will hear a lot of attention around beauty and looks. But when you hear me say this about you, I will not only comment on your clothes, hair and face, but mostly on how you carry yourself and treat others. Creating a foundation of healthy, positive habits will take you farther than any hair style or beauty product. I will help teach you to treat others the way you would like to be treated, and this my love, is what will make you beautiful.
I will be your friend. I know there will be a boundary between father and daughter. I know I will make rules, discipline you and disagree with you at times. But I hope that because our relationship was created on these traits of honesty, compassion, emotional understanding, support and patience, you know you can always talk to me as a friend.
As I wait here for mom’s labor to start, I just want you to know how excited I am to meet you and to be your father. I hope one day you will be proud of me as well. I love you, Baby Girl.