A Letter To My Son

For my only son-
I have been thinking lately about boys and how they become men.  You have three sisters and a mother infatuated with the things that women were created to do- give birth, nurse and nurture and raise their babies.  The house is definitely female heavy.  I wonder sometimes if you know how important you are and how important your role will be as you grow, in your home and in your world.

If I am gone when you are older I want you to know that manhood is just as important as womanhood.  Things don't have to be the same to be equal.  I don't believe men and women have the same gifts, the same demands or the same responsibilities.  I believe that they each have something unique and beautiful to give to the world and to their relationship together.  I don't care if people disagree or think I am old fashioned.

I want you to know that I am as grateful to have a son as I am to have daughters.  I want you to know that you matter.

There is as much power and authority in masculinity as there is in femininity.  Don't be afraid to be a man.  Don't be afraid to do your duties.  Don't be afraid to be kind to others, to nurture your children but also don't be afraid to provide for your family.  Don't be afraid to be educated- to be an equal with your wife, your sisters, your friends.  

People will tell you that to be a man you have to be with a lot of women.  That is a lie.

People will tell you that men aren't needed in their families.  That they can walk away from their children and their responsibilities.  This is a lie too.  Your family will need you.  Your children will need you.  Your wife will need you.

It isn't always easy to do your duty.  In fact many people will tell you to have fun- to walk away from duty.  They will tell you that duty is a chain that binds you to things you would rather walk away from.  They will call it "guilt" and they will say it is old fashioned.

If I give you nothing else, I hope I give you a sense of duty.  I hope you are a man, a person, who keeps his promises and does what is right- EVEN WHEN HE DOESN'T WANT TO.

I hope you realize that there is wisdom taking the hard road and cowardice in walking away from it.  I hope you know that sometimes choosing the right thing- like family, responsibility, education, fidelity- that sometimes that choice is so incredibly hard.  You may want to walk away.  It may seem like the right choice for your own happiness.  But in the long run, walking away from duty, from responsibility, from your promises and covenants- it will make you so miserable.  Please, please, never sell the things that really matter- things that are eternal in nature like your future family- for temporary pleasure.

The difference between pleasure and joy is this-
Pleasure lasts for moments.
Joy lasts FOREVER.

Choose joy.  Joy doesn't disappoint, but it doesn't come easy like pleasure does.  Joy takes work and commitment and an eye for the long game. 

It is so incredibly easy in this life to get caught up in the day to day.  The dirty floors, the empty bank account, the headache, the sleepless night, even the disappointing spouse. 

But don't.  Don't get caught up in the every day.  Keep your vision on the long game.  The long game is fifty years down the road.  It is beyond that even.  It is the eternities.  Before you make big choices ask yourself- "Where will this put me in 50 years?  If I just learn patience, humility, kindness, sacrifice, would I make a different choice?  Will it hurt my children?  Or am I choosing an immediate happiness and sacrificing eternal joy?"  Don't ever make the sacrifice of things that truly matter.

Remember the good times, forgive the bad.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive your children.  Forgive your wife.  And please, forgive your parents.

We tried so hard but we made so many mistakes.  We were so lost so often.  We were so overwhelmed and stretched so thin sometimes that I am quite sure we took it out on you.  I hope you have forgotten those times, but I don't know how you could have.  I want you to know that I am sorry and that for all my mistakes I loved you more than I can ever express.

I hope, in fact I am quite sure, that you will do a better job than we did.  We made so many mistakes and we were so selfish and confused.  But you have always had a strong moral compass.  A core that will help you do what is right even when it is hard.  I know you didn't get that from us- it is one of your gifts.  I want you to know that you will have hard times and struggles and things that you have to work on.  But of the many things you have done that I am proud of I am most proud of the fact that you are deeply moral, deeply good, and strong in doing what you know is right.  That is more important to me than how many books you read or how much money you make.

I can't even image what kind of wonderful man you will be.

So often on television or in movies men are either idiots or sluts.  You are neither.  And men who act like idiots or sluts aren't really men.  They are men pretending that acting like an animal gives them strength or machismo.  It doesn't.

There is nothing wrong with being strong, with being committed, with being kind but also being a leader.  Don't ever forget that. 

But please don't forget either that being domineering isn't strength either.  It is a scary form of cowardice.  And you are not a coward.  You are not the kind of man who feels better when others feel worse.

But you know this.  You don't really need a letter from me.  You don't really need my advice.  You will be fine.  You will be more than fine.  You will be a wonderful man and others will admire you.  You won't need any more talking to from your old mom.

I love you.