Welcome to our family, and welcome to our world. You’ve been gifted with two parents who love every bit of you to pieces — even your incessant poops — and an extended family of relatives and friends who are so excited you’re here. We’ve been waiting for you for 40 long weeks, and now that we have you in our arms, we can’t imagine ever letting you go.
You’re growing up in an era when opportunity is offered to some, but not all, and where you will get the lion’s share of it.
You will have access to any school, any job, any role of your choosing, and for no reason other than your fair skin and the fact that we call you “he.” Use this privilege wisely, my love: Use your voice to ensure that others also have the chance to speak, and learn to recognize the difference between an opportunity you’ve earned fairly and an opportunity you get just for being you.
Seek role models in people who look, think, speak, and act differently than you do; this will help you develop a moral compass that will always lead you in the right direction.
Know, too, that if someday you tell us that “she” or “they” is the proper pronoun for you, we will love and respect you all the same.
I hope, my son, that you grow up to set a new trend for cis boys and men in the West. I hope that when someone says you do something “like a girl,” you take it as a compliment.
Remember that you come from a long line of women on both sides who have fought like hell to support themselves and carve their own niches in cultures that didn’t care for women’s rights. Remember that your grandmothers and aunts are every bit as powerful as any man you’ll ever meet, and take pride in your heritage of strong people — not just men or women — who have set incredible examples for you. I hope that you learn to love that your mother is her own force of nature, for all her faults, and that you cultivate this same passion in yourself as you grow up.
I hope that, in addition to my stubbornness, you’ve inherited my thirst for adventure. You were born of impulse on an international trip; maybe this will set the stage for your later travels. Embrace this wild, wonderful, diverse planet on which you live, and let your wandering feet take you wherever they will. Daddy and I will miss you when you leave the nest to explore on your own, but few things would thrill us more than seeing you dive headfirst (and heart-first) into travel.
Growing up Go Girl. Image courtesy of Erica Laue.
Challenge yourself. I promise you that it’s frustrating and often overwhelming but that the rewards are greater than you can ever imagine.
Learn a new language; move to a new country; try a new hobby. I will always love you for exactly who you are in any given moment, but I also love all of your potential. I’ve already seen you work hard to master new things — breastfeeding was anything but natural for us, at first, and yet, within a few short days, your hard work has paid off. Seeing you stretch your wings and push your boundaries throughout your life will make me prouder than anything I’ve ever done for myself.
Above all, love, I hope you grow up with respect for yourself and others, and the integrity to act accordingly.
No matter who you are, you deserve to be treated with dignity, and so do the people you surround yourself with. I want you to be willing to stand by this principle in any situation. Sometimes, standing up for this right, either for yourself or for someone else, is the scariest thing you can do. I hope we instill in you the courage to face disrespect and bigotry with eloquence, resolve, and uncompromising conviction. I can’t imagine how we will accomplish this, but Lord knows that your dad and I will try to help you get there.
Know that we already respect you. Use that as the foundation for all other relationships you have.
I love you more than anything, baby of mine. I’m so proud that I get to call you my child.