Bayla and Dylan, you may not know this but you surprised your mother and me when you arrived six weeks earlier than your due date. You both came out strong and healthy, but your mother almost gave her life to bring you into this world.
There were many nights that I sat in the darkness with you in the NICU, shedding tears in fear and uncertainty, praying for your mom to return to us from the latest procedure her doctors had taken her into the operating room to perform. And every time, she returned to us.
She experienced more difficulties over the past year than any person should ever have to endure, and she did it all for you, so please be nice to her, especially when your teenage instincts tell you otherwise.
Most of my life, I thought my purpose in being here was to effect as much positive change on as many people as possible.
Every major decision I’ve made since I was 21 years old was a reflection of that personal mission. I wanted to meet as many people as possible, travel as far as I could, and spread my impact as far as possible.
But then I brought you two and your mother home from the hospital. I laid each of you down in your cribs, and was overcome by a new recognition… that all I wanted in the world was right in front of me.
My ambitions were no longer in remote villages, they were laying on my chest trying to stop an attack of the hiccups. They existed in your tiny eyelashes, your dimpled chins, and your balled up fists the size of peach pits.
My world fractured when we brought you home, because I suddenly stopped caring about living big and instead realized I had nothing to prove to anyone except you two. And you two just wanted to eat, sleep and have your diaper changed.
For about a month I struggled with the disconnection between these two motivations. To live big or to live small? I wondered how many other parents have felt those emotions? Is it now selfish to live for my own aspirations, now that they seem to pale in significance to even a single moment spent with my children?
But then I started to watch your eyes. Those deep blue circles of exploration darted around the room with increasing control day after day, and I knew that soon you’d start to not just see shapes but you’d begin to recognize people too, and one of them would be me. You’ll begin to understand the world around you, you’ll start talking, and once those chunky legs start moving I’ll be chasing you until you run me ragged.
But no matter what I tell you to do, it is my actions that you will observe and learn from; my words will not travel beyond your ears, but my actions will reach the inner recesses of your hearts.
And far faster than I’d like, the torch will be passed on and you’ll start to wonder, “what’s my purpose?” The answer to that question will only be uncovered through exploration of life’s ups and downs, and it will be different for each of you.
My purpose is now focused on being the best man I can be for our family, and doing everything in my power to craft the best possible society for you two to make your mark within. As you grow older though, you’ll need to find your own way down the path to purpose.
You’ll find plenty of guidance in books and speeches, but the following five truths are the ones that I know will help you most.
1. You will love many people and they will love you in return. But the unconditional love your parents feel for you will always be everpresent.
2. Look for the best in people. When you do that, they’ll likely show it to you.
3. Your life is one of radiance. Shine brightly, be a beacon unto others, and you’ll overcome any darkness that you encounter along the way.
4. The best memories you’ll make will be the ones you fought hardest to create.
5. Remember that it’s okay to be different. If that little voice in your head tells you to zig when everyone else zags, follow it.
If you would like to contribute something that you believe is most important for a parent to tell his or her child, please add below in the comments!