Letter to My Unborn Son

Image credit: Adrian Clark


Well, son, you’ve heard your name, but for readers of this column, let’s save that information for when you’re born. Yours is a name we think you’ll like as the years go by. It’s something of a family name on my Norwegian side, though usually thought of as Celtic. (You’ll learn that your Norse ancestors certainly got around.) Your name, when combined with your middle name, also turns out to be a bit literary, which is a nice coincidence, given that your mom and I are writers.

I’m writing my first letter to you. You already know, somewhere inside all those brain cells that are developing day after day, that I sing, read and talk to you.

I suppose I should start with the basics. I’m your dad. That means two main things: I had something to do with you being born, and I love you. But more about me later.

It’s your mommy who is carrying you and making you into a real live boy. My Nana used to say to her son, my dad, “I’m the one who born’d you.” What that means is that she, like my mom and your mom, carried us for nine months and devoted their whole lives to us.

As I write this, your mommy is providing more of that life every day. She’s giving you energy, and protection, and she’s nurturing you with everything she can muster in her body, mind and heart. That’s what a mommy does, and that, son, is greater than anything that ever was or ever will be. It’s greater than discovering electricity, or writing a best-selling book, or flying a rocket to the moon.

I’m not sure there’s a more important lesson you can learn: that women should be protected and respected. I hope you’ll grow up into a world that finally believes that everywhere, including places where women don’t have the same rights as men these days. Even in this country, motherhood sometimes isn’t as respected as being a movie star who does crazy things to get attention.

That’s part of a lesson you’ll learn, one that I wish you didn’t have to learn, but you will anyway: a lot of life isn’t fair, and sometimes that hurts. The only solution is to try to change unfairness. You may not always be successful, but just trying is what counts.

You won’t have to worry about that for a while, which is good, because it’s part of childhood. Your mom and I are bound and determined to help you have a childhood where you don’t feel responsible for life being unfair. And then, maybe someday, you’ll do the same for your child, or somebody’s child, which may bring you some satisfaction.

Remember that every woman could be your mother or your sister. In your case, you’re starting out with the best of both. Your mommy is the most loving, fair, strong and giving woman I can imagine. I’ve been lucky to have been around a few of those women growing up, and now I’m very lucky to be around another one. You could call me blessed, in fact.

Your sister, who will soon be my step-daughter, is smart and kind and a wonderful artist, which means she can make a kind of magic with a blank piece of paper. By the time you’re walking and talking, she won’t be around as much as we’d like because she’ll be in college becoming even smarter than she is now. And you’ll love her just like we do.

You’ll also be starting the world out with one heck of a brother. He’s what you would call a character with character. He’s funny, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. He’ll be a great role model for you, and a friend that can teach you about lots of things: Legos, and cars, and a thousand facts about history and nature, and how to ask questions so that you eventually get the answer you’re looking for. Most importantly, he’ll teach you about being a boy, because he’s such a good example of one.

Which brings us back to your dad – that’s me. I love you beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. So does your mom. You are, as of this moment, literally a part of her body. She carries you around like the most precious person who ever existed, because you are. Every child is, yet still, you’re my child, so I get to write this to you and you alone, in all your uniqueness. You’ve never existed before and I’ve never been a dad until you came along.

Judging by how much you dance around and swing your arms and legs in Mommy’s tummy, you like my singing and reading. I sing you songs that I hope you’ll enjoy when you’re out here with us. As much as I hope you’ll still get excited by (and arrive in time for) “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells,” the songs you seem to like the most are “A Tiny Turned Up Nose,” which my grandmother, Nana, sang to me, and “Toora, Loora, Loora,” an Irish lullaby, and a song my mom sang to help me sleep. I sing it perhaps with more gusto than was intended. I’m a drummer, but you seem to prefer my guitar playing, even though you’re too little to realize that I play guitar like, well, a drummer.

Your favorite song, at least as far as Mommy and I can tell, is called something like “Captain Penny’s Funny-Fun Train.” It’s an obscure song from a television show that I used to watch when I was a little boy. It’s so old that I can’t even find it in the vast world of the Internet. It’s a silly song, and you don’t seem to care that it’s an older song. Maybe because you already know that your dad who sings it to you loves you, and only wants to sing songs that make you happy.

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