Hey, guys. It’s me, your Aunt Tara. You’re still all-up-in-a-belly, cooking away, getting big and strong and ready for life on the outside. I’ve been watching you grow for months now, and every time you get bigger, I wonder who’s in there. Who will you be? What will you love? How will you shine? I don’t know yet, but I’m your aunt, so I’ll automatically love you no matter what. (That is NOT an excuse to be a jerk.)
I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a baby of my own, so I have a few things I want to tell you about life in the event that I can’t impart my years of hard-earned wisdom on my own poor child. This world is a weird and wonderful place. You’ll see.
After you get born, people will start expecting things from you. First they’ll want to know how many consecutive steps you can take, and the next thing you know, they’ll want to know where you’re going to college. It can be pretty overwhelming to answer every question the right way, and it’s exhausting to attempt to please everyone. If you’re anything like me, you’ll try and try, and it will make you sad sometimes, because it’s kind of impossible.
Did you know that you are meant to do the most amazing things? It’s true! And you’re the only one who gets to decide what those things are. Maybe no one else in the world will understand the special dreams that are buried deep down inside of your heart, but here’s some good news: those people don’t matter.
You don’t need approval from anyone to know that you’re doing the right thing. Just ask me, and I’ll tell you. (Kidding!) In the cheesiest, nerdiest, most Disney-animated-feature-film-kind-of-way, what I really want to say to you is: follow your heart. Everything else will work itself out.
There are a few big words I want you to know about: empathy, compassion, and kindness. It’s ok if you don’t know what they mean for a while, but my hope for you is that, as you grow up, you embody these words. I’m pretty tight with your parents, so I’m positive you’ll start learning about Jesus when you’re little. He’s the gold standard for this compassion and kindness stuff. There is nothing more important than treating other people with love and respect, and I promise to always try to be an example of that to you.
Empathy means that, even when it’s really hard, you’ll do your best to see things from another person’s point of view. You’re white, American males, which means that you have a lot of privileges in this world. Every day, you’ll see people around you who need you to defend them. You’ll notice people who need an ally, a helper. You’ve probably noticed how incredibly and completely loved you are by now, but, unfortunately, not everyone feels that way.
Sometimes people are mean to others who look different on the outside. Those people are bullies, and I want you to never, ever be one. Whether someone has a disability or a different skin color or second-hand sneakers, God made them all just as special and unique as he made you. It’s up to you to seek these people out and open your heart to them to share the love you’ve been given.
When you get a little bit older, you’re going to fall in love with someone. I know it may sound gross right now, but the day will come when the cooties disappear and are replaced with a feeling like butterflies in your tummy. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it’s the best and worst feeling all at the same time, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. It just happens.
A lot of people will tell you that boys are supposed to be tough, so it may make you want to hide your emotions. Or maybe you’ll naturally hold back because it’s just the way you are. But there is nothing more beautiful than being honest about the way you feel and letting another person into the deepest parts of your heart. There is also nothing scarier.
The chances that you’ll get your heart broken are pretty high, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. (But if anyone ever hurts you, I SWEAR TO GOD…) I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the love department, but I will never regret the times when I put everything on the line for something I wanted and believed in so much it hurt.
So, if you ever want to talk about your crushes, I’ll be there for you. And if you ever need to cry over a broken heart (and/or egg the person’s house who did it to you), I’ll be there even faster.
As you grow up, you’ll start to do some things besides crawl around and eat food from plastic pouches. Maybe you’ll be a musician. Maybe you’ll play sports. Maybe you’ll write poems or solve big math problems or memorize the names of every bone in the human body. I can’t wait to find out what it is! But here’s the thing: you may not be the best at the things you try. You’re probably going to fail sometimes, and it’s not very fun, but it’s ok. When we go through struggles, that’s when we learn the most about ourselves.
There are billions of people in the world, and only an elite few can say they are the “best” at what they do. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always try your hardest or commit to practicing and becoming the best YOU can be, though. Don’t give up! The most important thing is that you invest your time in something that brings you joy — something that makes you come alive. Because when you do that, other people see the real deep-down you with passion in your eyes and fireworks in your heart, and your spark becomes contagious!
No matter what you do, I’ll be at your games, your recitals, your math competitions, your poetry readings, and I’ll cheer for you in an embarrassingly loud fashion that will make you wish you hadn’t invited me.
Sometimes you’re going to get mad at your parents. They will have rules for you, and it’s your job to obey them. It can be hard! And sometimes you just won’t want to. But in those times when you’re mad at them for punishing you or giving you rules you don’t like, try to cut them some slack.
The truth is, they have no idea what they’re doing. I have faith that they’ll figure it out as time goes on, but you’re their first crack at parenting, and I’m pretty sure raising a human being is the most difficult job a person could have. No matter what, they always want the best for you, even when you tell yourself that they’re just trying to ruin your life.
You’ll probably argue, and you’ll go to time-out when you disobey. Eventually you’ll get grounded (unless you take after your Aunt Tara more than your parents), and you may slam a few doors in the process. When that happens, just take a deep breath and remember that everything they do is for you. They decided, together, to have you, because they believed in the person God created you to be before you even started growing in your moms’ bellies. Isn’t that pretty amazing?
Then when the fight is over, call me, and we’ll go do something fun because I never have to discipline you. Isn’t that even more amazing?
Really, though, your parents are my best friends, so try to take it easy on them.
I have a bazillion more things to tell you when you get here, like how great animals are and how delicious ice cream is and how extremely funny I am. We’re going to be together a lot, so there’s plenty of time to get to all of that. For now, the most important thing I need you to know is that I love you both an insane crazy amount that winds around the world and back again. When I think about you, my heart explodes into little bitty bits of smaller hearts that explode into infinity flecks of glitter.
You are worthy of love, and you are always, always, always enough. I can’t wait to hold you in my arms and tell you that forever. I also can’t wait to feed you so much candy and teach you all the best ways to make fart sounds. It’s on. See you soon, nephs.