Harrison looking up
Letters to Harrison,  Parenting

Letters to Harrison

How cliche!

A blog about parenting.

Another writer is here proclaiming to the world how great their child is, how smart they are, intelligent, good looking. Man, that kid is going places.

I’m here to say how hard things are, how tough we modern parents have it (more so than countless others before our time).  I’m writing letters to my son Harrison so that he knows this too.

We describe (in our social media), “Oh how my life is perfect, I am a superwoman and I effortlessly do it all”. And…..it is, and we do…in photos…on Facebook…Instagram, in line at the grocery store, sitting at circle-time at mother-goose. Of course we present this since it makes us feel good. It’s how I plan to proceed, and if all goes according to plan and I do in fact write more than one posting here:

I’d like this portrait I paint to be one that I’ll feel joy looking back on.

Really, though,

Taking things to a deeper level, I like to think I may actually in fact be DOING things “pretty well” as far as this “keep a kid alive and mold his character into a productive member of society” business. Full disclosure Harrison, you are 9 months old right now, our family has a long way to go. For the stage we are at I can say we are more at a “keep the baby alive” stage than a “mold this small character” stage, but I see more glimpses of humanity in you with each passing day. Like artists with putty, we continue to form our project: you.

Harrison, you are a lucky boy. You’ve known love, family, and friendship in the short time you’ve been here. I hope that you can always have happiness in your life, and when perhaps you may not, that you will seek it, or adjust your attitude to find it in what you have.

I love words, and I hope you do too. Reading books was a refuge for me in childhood, an opportunity to live an exciting life, to see and do things more spectacular than a creative and socially shy child had access to in real life. I recall my parents taking books away for the night hoping I would just sleep, rather than adventure by the light of my lamp. I would sail off into those pages, and on, on, on, the compulsion taking me sometimes into the early hours of the morning. My passion was reading, but less so was there desire for writing. The countless partially scribed journals in the basement will attest to that. I had dreams and stories and fantasies and plans…just no motivation to commit.

Harrison, what I value about my own words are the memories attached to them, though I despise the process of recording them in a meaningful way. Frequently I will stop and think “this is a moment…don’t forget this, right now with its smell, sounds, colours”.

This thought of satisfaction usually falls during a mundane activity: while I drive us to one of many outings, me lip-syncing the Tarzan soundtrack while you play in your carseat;

Watching you sit naked in our cold living room oblivious to the temperature, turning a stacking toy over and over between your hands.

I think “This is it, right now I am “mommin”, and mommin’ well” (yes, in my head I use that term as a verb, I imagine it means to have “arrived” and be rocking the concept of mom-hood). Note those moments don’t come in scenarios where you are irritable, non-compliant, or where my full participation is required in whatever activity you are agressively attempting (you are a very busy boy after all). Those moments I glaze over…in my memory, as well as on social media.

People comment “I love the photos you put up of Harrison, he’s so happy, does he ever cry?” To those, I reply that when you are upset, we are not exactly bringing out the camera, and we are definitely not sharing things that don’t give us warm fuzzies.

In everything, I forget much. I treasure flipping through my photo albums, my scrapbooks. In this digital age I still print off my pictures, cut, paste and embellish. There are photos in those pages I now don’t recall taking. I have moments that were once so fresh in my memory that I now question the stories associated with them.

Those stories at this point are spoken by memory of the last time I told them, rather than recall of the event happening itself. While glamorous sounding to me at the time, I’m sure the events were tame and dull in relation to the colour they are remembered in. The theme that stands out in my memories is one of wonder. I think that’s enough, and lately that same feeling of “wonder” is the theme for my present. We bear the shadows and marks of past experiences, and thus far I can say that mine have been good ones. Perhaps I will capture some of yours here?

And so,

These thoughts contribute to the current weight on my mind. I had a wonderful childhood. I knew love, happiness, praise and success, and in experiencing all that I knew joy.

What do I look forward to?

What alarms my confidence in raising you?

What is this elusive goal I’ve set for myself?

It’s fairly simple, though I think I personally have a tough act to follow up on (by this I mean the one set by my parents, your Grandma and Papa). I have such happy memories of my childhood and the way I grew up, and my goal here is to do the same for you: I want to help create your happy memories. I want you to know joy and be able to look back on your life with a positive attitude.

Off topic:

You had a sleep-over at your Grandparents last night, and I watched “the Greatest Showman”. It was a great movie and while playing the soundtrack at home for the dozenth time today you clapped your hands for the first time with the music.

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