Letters to a Child I Might Have One Day (Part 1)

by Matt B. on October 20, 2015

Dear –

I don’t know what to call you, because you haven’t been conceived yet. I don’t know if you ever will be. But I know that if I your mother and I do create you one day, I’ll want to be able to say some things to you. And I’m not very good impromptu, so I want to say them now.

I also want you to know that your mother and I have lived real lives – as real as yours. Maybe this sounds obvious, but it wasn’t to me. I always knew my parents as parents; when they told stories about their younger selves, I didn’t quite believe them – always felt like they were half-creating myths for my instruction. I wanted to hear from them as adolescents, to know them as young adults. To know what my mom felt on her prom night, and not just what her semi-nostalgic, semi-sentimental self had to say about it forty years later.

So I’m gonna share some things with you – things that I hope will prove to you how human I am.

Yours,

Dad

*          *          *

Dear –

Why are you here? I suppose that’s a question we usually ask about ourselves, and not about others. But since you’re not here yet, I have to ask on your behalf. It’s a question that ought to be addressed to me, anyway (and your mother, of course). Why did we choose to have you?

I once asked my mom the same question. At the time she had me, she’d been married to a man named Dale. He was older, with four kids from a previous marriage, and didn’t particularly want more. But she did – oh, did she. She told me, “I wanted to raise you, to watch you grow, to catch you when you stumbled. I wanted to love you.” When Dale expressed his disinterest, she tripped into a closet and cried.

When she told me these things, Mom was talking out of something basic, and it felt beautiful to be in touch with that part of her. But her use of the pronoun ‘you’ struck me as funny, and a little dishonest – like an effort to make me a part of the process retroactively. I wasn’t there, of course. She couldn’t have known she wanted to love me, because I didn’t exist yet. Her child was pure possibility at that point.

At another level, though, she was being honest – because she was going to love her child, whoever he turned out to be. She knew that about herself. Maybe that’s no big surprise – parents tend to love their kids! – but there was something in her certainty that really got to me. Your grandmother is a very anxious woman; she’s spent a lot of her life in painful oscillation. On this, though, she knew.

I know it too. If you’re reading this, then I’ve chosen to have you, and you’re most of the way to adulthood. And that means that I’ve been in love with you for almost two decades now.

Which I hope brings you comfort and joy and confidence, of course. But it doesn’t really answer the question: why’d we have you in the first place?

If it’s happened, then some of it will be what my mom told me – a desire to pour out my love, to give it to someone who I can really care for. I already feel that.

But so far, that doesn’t feel like enough.

Dad

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nhung Bieber October 20, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Look at you, calling yourself dad. I love it. I love reading what you have to say about your life, and our life, as real as our future child’s, if we decide to have one. I like to read more what you have to say about your life now. I like the sight of you trapping on the wrist support gloves, typing away, not looking at the screen. And I really wish you would take a photo or two to share with your future baby (and us all here) too.

Matt October 21, 2015 at 3:50 am

I’ll do my best :)

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