Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hopes of a New Father

Today marks 6 months since Anderson Sidney joined our family so I thought this 1/2 year milestone would be a good time to share something that I wrote in the hospital awaiting his arrival.

January 27, 2010

As I write this the sound of your erratic heartbeat fills the room as I watch Jill rest peacefully. So many thoughts, fears, hopes, anxieties fill my mind…about your future and the daunting task of parenting for which I am so simultaneously excited and intimidated. The literature and advice are abundant. I obviously can’t learn it all nor be the perfect parent. But here are some of my hopes for you.

I hope that you...

cultivate a love of nature that inspires you to both explore and enjoy it as well as protect and conserve it

develop the courage to take risks and the judgment to make good decisions

learn how to forgive yourself and all those around you, including your mother and me, who will surely disappoint and fail you

are ambitious - but not just professionally. I hope you set goals in your personal life, too. Learn a new language, volunteer, travel etc. I hope you learn the difference between a job and a vocation and pursue the latter.

are not embarrassed or ashamed to cry in front of others and learn that strength comes through vulnerability, intimacy from shared struggle

maintain your curiosity and develop a passion for learning that fuels your growth throughout your life

listen closely to the advice, criticism and reassurances you offer to others as it is the best indication of what you need to hear or feel

develop a healthy self-esteem and an even more healthy sense of humility

feel listened to and heard even when we disagree and that you will make the time and effort to really listen to others

learn to acknowledge when you are wrong and offer a genuine apology

not only accept the mysteries of life but actually embrace the beauty of the unknown rather than fearing it

spend less time trying to understand God and more time experiencing & reflecting something larger than yourself , where God is less subject and more verb, less belief and more action, less judgment and more forgiveness, that takes shape as beauty, gentleness, grace, comfort and of course, love

read & listen to different opinions and always hold loosely to what you’re convinced you know to be true

don’t ever forget to laugh – especially at yourself

experience “the hunch” about someone like I did about your mother

learn to walk through and with your grief rather than around or past it

experience friendship that overcomes the miles and time that so often separate us

become comfortable in silence – with yourselves and others

focus more on contributing rather than consuming

maintain a commitment to generosity that overcomes your resentment of being taking advantage of

find a way to embrace, integrate and share all of who you are and have experienced - the good and bad, successes and failures, joys and sorrows

worry less about proving yourself and more about being yourself

cultivate perseverance in pursuit of your dreams and the patience and acceptance required when life inevitably does not go as you planned

consider the wisdom and advice of others while also trusting your instincts

learn to win and lose graciously

appreciate the importance of reflection without being paralyzed by regret and self doubt

find the difficult balance between unselfishness and self-neglect. Taking care of yourself is the most effective way to maintain your ability to take care of others

have the ability to push yourself beyond your limits while still appreciating the serenity of a power nap

leave home, find yourself, succeed on your own and then choose to “come back home”

take pride in whatever you do without being tormented by perfectionism

root for the Tar Heels but more importantly that at some point you experience the indelible sense of connection to a transformative place, time, and experience like Chapel Hill was for me

enjoy hiking and camping but more importantly that you find a hobby/activity that replenishes your spirit and rejuvenates your soul

are captivated by the simplicity of a campfire but more importantly that you somehow experience the peaceful stillness that solitude and reflection offer

take the time to drive across the country and study abroad but more importantly that you make the time to explore your world in the ways that it fascinates you

appreciate the music of Patty Griffin and David Wilcox but more importantly that you find art, literature, interests that comfort, inspire and give voice to what you have trouble expressing

like to sing with your mother and me during long road trips in the car but more importantly that you’ll find someone with whom you can let your guard down, be silly, and playful

Above all, my goal as your father is to support and affirm all of who you are and become. My love for you is unconditional…except for that part about the Tar Heels ;) I don’t want you to become me I want you to become you – whatever and whoever that is. Sure, I hope that you enjoy some of the pleasures in life that bring me joy but I am even more eager to experience all the ways that you will shape and influence me as well. Oh, and one more thing - please don’t waste your time trying to earn my approval – just let me know if you don’t sense it or believe it. I’ll be glad to remind and reassure you.


  1. That was pretty awesome Jonathan!

  2. Dear Brother Rocket,
    This letter to Anderson is truly beautiful.
    You will be a magnificent father because you are a magnificent person. Word.
    Keep the Faith,