In moments of profound life change, it can be fun to look back and see just how much we have transformed since adolescence, and consider what we might say to those younger versions of ourselves. I went a little further than reflection, and wrote myself a letter:
Dear High School Era Version of Myself,
Hey man, how is 1999 treating you? I bring news from the future. You find parenting to be a rewarding experience. Also, Creed was never a good band, and your career as a Michael Jackson impersonator will never take off. Take a moment to reflect on all that, and keep reading. I promise that life only gets better from here on out, young Thomas. Stay in school, wear Hawaiian shirts less often, and trust that your facial hair will one day be glorious. If you need convincing, please see the attached photo.
Now that I have your trust, I want to provide you with valuable insight concerning parenthood. You are already familiar with the concept. You once had to take care of a plant and pretend that it was a baby, as part of a home economics project in 8th grade. Your plant died, but you remained determined to eventually have a child and water it sufficiently. You also watched a video about childbirth during your freshmen year health class. These videos are used to warn students of the realities of parenting, and are intended to promote smart decision making. In reality, they promote the scribbling of inappropriate doodles on the back of homework assignments.
I want you to know that the movie is much better than the trailer you watched in health class. The responsibilities entailed with parenting are still terrifying, but moments are enriched with new meaning. Plus, you get to dress him up in embarrassing outfits and laugh as he stares back at your camera lens.
After each sleepless night comes a morning of increased confidence and experience, and the bond between you and your little monster builds from there. I speak from little experience, but I can confirm that even a brief exposure to parenthood is profoundly life-changing.
I likely have some frustration ahead of me, but that’s just the complex result of an incredible bond that I never truly understood until now. This past week, the baby had to undergo a minor operation on his mouth. I was asked to stay with him as the doctor made incisions on his tongue and lips. I felt like we made eye contact the entire time, and it was one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life. Only eight days into our relationship, the little guy is able to make me weep.
You have nothing to fear, Thomas of 1999. The adventure will be terrifying, but the relationship is worth it. Besides, when else would you be able force your silly interests upon another person? If you need convincing, please see the attached photo.
Thomas from 2013