To My Future Kids: Lessons I Hope to Pass Down to You

Dear Future Kid(s),

I have waited a long while for your arrival. It has given me a lot of time to think about how I want to be with you and what I want to teach you about the world. The world is so different from when I was your age, but also, I was so different when I was your age. It’s hard to know even where to begin.

 

You’re not me

My father often told me that I should be a pediatrician when I was a child. Around 8 years old, I told him I wanted to be an actress. He said to me, “Well you can do that on the side! How about a doctor during the week, and an actress on the weekends? You can even be a pediatric doctor, since you like kids so much, huh?”

I’ve had way too many moments of not knowing who I was or what I wanted because whatever I wanted was swept aside for what my father wanted. I didn’t know then, but I had a rebellion brewing in me. My father wasn’t cruel about this request, but it did come with his approval, and in our household, that meant a lot. So for the beginning of my adult life, I thought he was right and that my decisions were bad or wrong. When I hit my 30s, I finally started asking myself what I like and want and need. I found that they weren’t in line with what he wanted. It was hard to extract myself from that.

For you, I hope you always know that you are only you. I ask nothing of you other than for you to live an authentic life. I hope you find things you’re passionate about. I hope you find work that means something to you and doesn’t leave you too drained to be with your family when you come home. I hope you define family for yourself! You don’t need to get married or even fall in love. Just be true to yourself every day, and I will be thrilled.

 

 

Lead with empathy

The world is difficult and hard. And many people suffer. I was taught to be suspicious and think that everyone was out to get me along the way. It was an exhausting way to live.

I’m not asking you to be naive, but if you err on the side of trusting, I will never ridicule you. Some days, we might require someone else to stretch their empathy. Recognize those moments as chances for healing.

 

Don’t worry about arriving

Growing up, I had a lot of ideas about what I should be thinking about. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and knew that I wanted to get married and have babies. I wasn’t really concerned so much about what happened after those things or how I got those things, but I had a clear plan.

When the rest of life started to fill in, I found that my anxiety was out of control. I was so focused on the end result, and I’d never really been taught to stop and appreciate the process. I was stressed after I got married because I wasn’t making enough money to have kids, I didn’t have a job with health insurance, and I wasn’t growing up “right.” But when I look back at that time now, I realize I wasn’t meant to have all the answers then. Your dad and I had just gotten married! There were no rules in place. Most people who just get married have nothing figured out, so why should I be any different?

 

But when I look back at that time now, I realize I wasn’t meant to have all the answers then.

 

Life is not all about the end result. The end result can be interesting sometimes—or not. But the journey is always what matters. I used to love hearing my parents’ stories about their newlywed days and how little money they had and how they figured out how to make it work. Now, as we wait for you, I have been able to slow down and think about this process. This wait has been long (over three years now), but your dad and I have been having the wildest amount of fun—we even got a dog that delights us to no end. Now I see that the process is magic, and I live most days with moments of deep and intense joy, which is much more important than where we will land. I hope you learn to cultivate those moments.

 

 

Nothing is binary except computer code

I was so worried about going to college and then getting a master’s degree that I forgot to ask myself if any of it was worth it. And to be fair to my younger self, a lot of it was worth it. I met your dad in graduate school, and I made lifelong friends along the way. But there was also a lot of unnecessary pain because I was trying to do things to fit someone else’s mold.

If you decide not to go to college right out of high school, that’s your choice! If you decide to go later, that’s also your choice! Nothing is set in stone and nothing is gone once this moment changes. Whatever path you choose, in any given moment, is the right path for you at the time. That can change over time; that can be whatever you want it to be. I spend a lot of my time farming and gardening now, which are things I never learned in a classroom. I only use some of the things I learned in school. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it—it just means I use what I need when I need it.

I want you to be able to think beyond the binary. If something is good, it can also be bad. If something is bad, it can also be good. All things can be true at once. The most important part is doing what feels right to you in the moment. That’s all.

 


 

This letter is just to tell you that I love you so much. I will work hard to get to know you for who you are and enjoy the ride along the way. I can’t wait to meet you and begin our journey together!

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