Today is Father’s Day. You are just over a year old. You took your first steps this week. You love your blocks and your stuffed Pikachu toy and spaghetti. You are the cutting molars and you want to be held when you hurt. You are soft and sweet, your knees are always dirty from crawling around in the yard when I garden, and your laugh keeps me alive. I want to remember this stage forever.
We live in a world that is increasingly connected. And while that is beautiful in many ways, connections bring both love and fear and pain. In a world without electricity, you don’t hear about refugee children on the nightly news. In a world without cars, you rarely concern yourself with people who aren’t from your town. But in these increasingly digital times, we can both order Father’s Day gifts from Japan and hear about wars thousands of miles away. And sometimes, the world weighs on me heavily. I look at you sleeping on your father’s chest and think of children who don’t grow up loved or who get hit by speeding cars or flee war-torn countries in their mother’s arms. My heart breaks for them and for you. Fear consumes me. I think of the future you might inherit, with its school shooters and lead in the water and mental illness, and I want to keep you safe forever.
But I know the world doesn’t work like that. Children grow out of naps with their fathers and into bumps and bruises and walking and running and falling in love. And the more parents try to protect, the more the risk of smothering small spirits rises. I want you to bloom, not become root-bound in a too-tiny flowerpot. So I look at you, with the marinara sauce on your chin and the teething toy in your hand and help you learn to walk, no matter how much it scares me. Let the world break your heart a little once in a while, and then let that show you the beautiful things to focus on.
Heartbroken and grateful,