Holy shiitake mushroom, Shortstack, you’ve made it to your second birthday (and your mama and I even survived it, too). What a momentous occasion.
Sometimes I think about how you came to be, and how a million decisions could have changed our trajectory: the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, what sperm donor we chose, what vials of his life juice were sent to us and chosen on the day of insemination, my insistence on having my feet up the entire day when the doc only recommended it for 30 minutes (and also my strong requests for bacon — which I assume played a key role).
Through all that, you prevailed on our first attempt at kiddo-making, and most everything about you feels magical. I loved you when you looked like a gummy bear and I loved you when you felt like gas bubbles in my belly. I loved you through 33 hours of natural childbirth and I have loved you over two sometimes-excruciating-but-mostly-lovely years.
To be fair, the pain has only been my own (irrational?) manifestation of ways you might leave this world too early. My hormones have betrayed me from time to time (hi, postpartum anxiety). Over and over, I have envisioned the worst.
But you have gotten back up after every fall, the Heimlich maneuver has worked every time, and, quite frankly, watching families being split up at the border has me feeling grateful I even get to have you in my sights and for the chance to cringe in worry that you’re going to bonk your head during your laps around the dining room table (eyes ahead, bud!).
In just two years (and nine months), you have given me hope, you have given me purpose and you have given me new life.
In return, I promise you these six things:
- Helicopter parenting: Despite the fact that you approach the world with reckless abandon and disregard for harm, we’re going to try not to succumb to our overwhelming desire to swaddle you in bubble wrap (with plentiful breathing holes) to keep you safe. We’ll allow you to learn about gravity and consequences and to pay attention to the voice of reason in your growing brain. Seriously, though, stop running with food in your mouth.
- Active embarrassment: Your mama and I excel (greatly) at #dadjokes and awkward dancing, so I can promise you that while we’ll inevitably embarrass you, it won’t be intentional. We’re just kind of weird, kid. So, sorry in advance (but also, you’re welcome for the lessons in resilience).
- Modeling self love: The corporate world is going to do its best to breed self-doubt in your psyche for its monetary gain, but we are committed to — if not perfect at — showing you what it looks like to love yourself. Good thing perfection isn’t the goal; self-love is.
- Respect who you want to be: Your mama and I know how hard it is to be different from what the world expects of you, so even though we’ll have lots of ideas about what you could become, we’re going to do our best to let you do you, boo.
- Provide what you need, but not everything you want: For as long as we’re able, your mama and I will provide you everything you need to have a chance at success in this world. We won’t, however, give in to your every desire. Although we want to (because that’d be fun), what we want even more is for you to know how to work for what you want, how to handle disappointment and to understand that wealth is not distributed equally.
- Making the world a better place: This is perhaps my most important promise, dear Harvey, because when you were conceived, we were pretty sure that we were on the precipice of having our first woman president — and not just any woman, but a smart, articulate, compassionate, hard-working, experienced, progressive woman. But we were wrong, Mr. Cupcake. And achieving equality, understanding and progress will be a harder-fought battle than we ever imagined. But we didn’t bring you into this world for our benefit alone; we brought you here to live a fulfilling life of your own. So, we promise to work every day (seriously, every single day) to make the world, our Earth, the place of opportunity and fairness we know it can be. And we will teach you to do the same.
So thank you, sweet child, for being that which gives us tireless dedication to live well and do good. And happy birthday, Harvey.
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at email@example.com.