To Liam on his 6th Birthday
Post-bedtime was probably not the right moment to write this. You do not like bedtime and of late it has not been your finest hour of the day behavior-wise. Yet your mom and I learning. Parenting, you may find this out one day, is a process. You are always recalibrating, always figuring out what works, what makes things better. It requires lots of patience, some luck, and a love stronger than whatever your kid throws at you.
My love for you is stronger than whatever you throw at us. So even though bedtime didn’t go as smoothly as I’d like, I can still come downstairs and write this. We love you more than you will ever know. I say that to both you and your brother a lot. I say it because it is true. Truer than true. It is honestly one of the things I am most confident about in the world.
I was running earlier today and a song by the band Mumford & Sons came on called “Beloved.” I read recently that the song was written in the aftermath of Mumford’s grandmother dying. As I—tired and near the end of my run—heard that incredibly emotional song, I thought about my Grandma who passed away a year and a half ago. And I found myself wishing that she had gotten to spend more time with you. As I have watched your personality continues to blossom and bloom, I really think Grandma would have gotten a kick out of you. She loved you, but as you come into your own, you have a sweet feistiness that reminds me of her somedays.
Sweetly feisty. I don’t think I have ever used that term to describe you but it is apt. You are so incredibly affectionate with your people. Always running to give hugs and kisses. Bounding over to me when I pick you up from school. You love your people and you need to be around them. You still have this adorable nature that people notice. When you are happy, you don’t walk. You skip and bound as if the world is your giant playground. You’re questions are full of childlike curiosity, but also an almost adult-like certainty. That’s where the feistiness comes in. You’re a scrapper. You like mischief. Sometimes the mischief is really cute and sometimes it makes me super apprehensive about future mischief. Yeah, you are sweetly feisty.
I love having conversations with you. Your point of view on most matters of the world is hilarious. You are my grocery-shopping buddy; even though you don’t always want to go we have a good time. You like to ride the horse, which you have named Mr. Ed, in front of the store. You are a great helper. You love to help. Your laugh is one of my favorite noises in the world. It is the sound of pure unadulterated joy. There is this spark in your eyes and it is so beautiful to see.
I can’t believe that you’re 6 years old. I remember the day I first held you in my arms. Every day, apps remind me of when you were smaller with pictures of you as a baby or a toddler. But you are now nearing the end of kindergarten. You’re starting to read bit by bit (you’ve memorized several books; Truck Full of Ducks is your favorite). You’re doing homework. And it is so cool to watch you take these steps forward even though it feels like it is going too fast sometimes. As you grow up, my prayer is that you will treat others as you want to be treated. That you would look out for the underdog. That you would seek to do good.
Liam, I want you to know that you are loved. Every single day. You are loved by God, by your mom and I, your brother (it’s true), your grandparents, and so many other people. Your mom and I are so lucky to be your parents and that we get to watch you grow up. We are going to try our best in every way that we can. We won’t get it perfect. You won’t either. But we are always, always, always here for you. And we will always, always, always love you.
Happy Birthday buddy! I am so lucky that I get to be your dad.