OK, kids, it’s time for the obligatorily sappy letter that parents write for their children to read and get misty eyed over. You know, the kind of letter that the song “The Letter” talks about in the musical Billy Elliott. Or the letter that Francesca leaves her children in the movie The Bridges of Madison County. (I really hope you already know what I’m referencing here.)
If you’ve been reading this blog, you know how hard your dad and I worked to bring you into our family. But it’s not important that you recognize that, because you both are a blessing and miracle from God that we waited a very long time for. We just bought you matching coming home outfits that, for me, perfectly express my feelings. I hope that I never do anything to make you feel like you owe me something, because it’s completely and totally my privilege to be your “apba,” your 아빠, your 爸.
That’s not to say that I won’t push you to work hard, because I’m a competitive person and I want you to do the very best you can. (Move over tiger mom, tiger dad is here!) I want you to never settle for less that your best. But that’s not for my benefit, so that I can brag about my daughter and son. It’s because complacency with the gift of life seems like such a terrible thing to me. You probably know that I had a rough start in life, but I was blessed with so many miracles and wonderful people that I survived. That’s why I want you to relentlessly pursue whatever you dream of, and never stop believing in what can be. Not for my sake, but for your own and for the miraculous life you’ve been given.
I hope you know that there’s nothing you could do or be that would change the fact that your family loves you – unconditionally and without reserve. That’s something that I didn’t grow up with: I spent a lot of time trying to win my parents’ love and meet their expectations, until I finally had to admit that I am not the son they wanted. It is my goal to make sure you never feel unwanted, that you never feel less than completely treasured, that you never feel like you have to do something for me to “earn” my love and/or attention. You dad and I talked about this a number of times, especially after hearing “Not My Father’s Son” from Kinky Boots. (Yes, this is the second time in this post that I’ve referenced musicals, but your fathers are gay – so get over it.)
The completely awesome thing is that it’s not just your fathers who love you. Your Grandma, Grandpa, and Nana can’t wait to lavish you with a lifetime of love. It’s totally not about money or gifts, but they’re so eager to meet you that we have a roomful of things that they bought for you even before you were born. On top of that your godparents – my brother and his wife – threw a baby shower for you just the other week, adding to your pile of loot. Honestly, it took your uncle and aunt a while to get use to your dad and I being together. (I’m so masculine that a lot of people have a hard time accepting that I’m gay.) But your uncle has proven over and over again that he loves his brother no matter what. And I know that he and your aunt love you like their own children. So between your grandparents, your uncle and aunt (and her family), your cousins, and other family (not to mention the dear friends we think of as family), I know that you both will have the large, loving, and accepting family that I didn’t have as a kid.
Even if I didn’t have the strong family roots that you have, as a young man it still seemed to me that living anywhere but Southern California was completely incomprehensible. But, as you know, then I ended up living and traveling around the world. And that not only completely changed my life, but my way of thinking and ability to understand others. Your dad and I will take you on a lot of different adventures, from camping trips across this wondrous nation of ours to stays in fancy hotels around the world. I hope you continue to explore not only the world, but different cultures and people. And I hope you tap deeper into your own humanity as a result.
Your dad and I want you to be equally comfortable talking to homeless people and hiking outdoors as you are enjoying the performing arts or dinner at a three-star Michelin restaurant. I was homeless for a period of time and have made some pretty terrible mistakes on my way from the streets to a reasonably successful life, so I hope I set you an example of humility and compassion. I hope that your hearts, minds, and spirits seek to connect not only with people but with God.
This lengthy list of things that I want for you really just comes down this: be good and happy people. I’d say I Hope You Dance, but you probably already know that both of your fathers have two left feet. However much time God grants me to be with you in this life, please know that I love you both so very much.