Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A letter to my daughter

To my dearest daughter, Clarke,

I started writing this letter the day you were born; little did I know that thirteen days would go by before I had a chance to finish it. Turns out that babies are hard, scary, amazing, time consuming poop machines. And you are a champion pooper. Depending on how old you are when you read this, that'll either be funny or embarrassing; possibly both. Sufficed to say, I'm sure it's not the first time you've had to decide between those choices, and I know I'll do far more in the future that'll constitute some holographic eye rolls (I assume by the time you read this, holograms will be all the rave, if not, your future sucks, and I'm sorry).

I figure you're wondering why bother writing something you can't read or understand for years to come? I think it's cause I wanted to share something with you that most kids don't really ever get the chance to see; an insight into their parent's mind. At age 40, I know I'll be a different person at 60. Twenty years of being a dad will more than likely make me go completely grey. Not with worry (okay, some worry), but with all the uncertainty of what's to come (scratch that, there'll probably be a lot of worry). I don't know what the future holds, but I'm sure as hell looking forward to it with you and your mom. For now though, here's some things I feel you should know.

I've always wanted a kid. I felt I've been ready to be a dad for a long time. After years of trying, when your mom woke me up one morning some time in February, 2016 to tell me she was pregnant, nothing could have prepared me for the actual moment you arrived. It sounds foreign to my ears when someone calls
me a "father", I've had one for 40 years, so when I hear that word being thrown in my direction, there's a bit of a process that occurs in my brain before it recognizes that I'm the one being referred to as "dad". But I have called you my daughter from the moment we found out your sex. Months before you were born, I thought about you; about what you'd look like, about what you'd sound like, about what you'd need. To say you shattered any expectations I had and gave me something greater than I could have ever known is actually putting it lightly.

Growing up as a kid, I always had a thing for super heroes. One in particular. At age 4, I thought I could fly just like him, and jumped off the arm of a chair, doing a face plant and knocking my two front teeth out. I learned I couldn't fly that day, but I never stopped dreaming about being a super hero.

I gotta tell ya kid, never in a million years did I ever think of naming you after my favorite super hero. Sure, I was gonna name you after some nerd name of a significance to your mom and I, but it didn't register in my head to name you after this particular one. You can thank your mom for that. We had names that we were going through and off the top of her head, she says, "What about Clarke?"

It's as if the stars aligned. It all made sense. I kicked myself for not thinking about it first. Partly because "duh doy", but also (and more importantly) the patriarchal remnants that society has instilled into my brain didn't even allow me to think that we could call you Clarke. And of course, we thought about the looks and responses we would get from people when we told them your name. We wondered if it was too masculine a name for a girl in this day and age. But we both realized that we've been watching a show that we really dug called
The 100 (if I've been any kind of a good parent, I would've snuck it in for you to watch it in your early teens), and in that show the protagonist is named Clarke, a kickass young lady who goes about saving the last remnants of humanity. And no one questions her name, everyone calls her Clarke and it's just accepted because that's her fucking name. Your mom and I decided that that's gonna be your name and the rest of the world that has an issue with it can be damned. Also, I got your name tattooed on my forearm in Kryptonian about a month before you were born so your mom pretty much had to.

And just like your namesake, we brought you to this world for a purpose. People say you shouldn't expect anything from your kids. That all you should want for them is happiness and well-being.

Fuck that.

Don't get me wrong, your happiness and well-being are my number one concerns. As long as you've got both going on, I'm super stoked. But I gotta tell ya kid, the world has stacked the decks against you from the get-go and you're going to need to come out swinging.

As a woman and a minority, we live in a society that says you deserve less in about every aspect of life. They will infer that they can decide what you can and can't do. And that's society today! I can only imagine what they will try to take away, or say you can't do, or keep you from achieving the rights you deserve in the future. And as a man and a father, I have to recognize too that I may say or do something
in the future that for all intents and purposes may seem like just me being a protective dad but in reality is my male ego lashing out in fear.

To all those people, including myself, Clarke. Fuck that noise.

I will make damn sure that you have every weapon in the proverbial arsenal available to you to combat ignorance, hypocrisy, and whatever else life wants to throw at you.

And because of that, I expect one thing of you; make the world better. Colonize Mars, save our species, heal the planet, hell, hack the planet, your choice. Sing a song that'll make the whole world sing, write a book that'll change someone's life, do anything your heart desires but do so to better the world.

We live in cynicism, we are constantly bombarded by the negative, we watch our heroes dwindle to memories. I ask that you stand when others won't. Show them that the world doesn't have to be this way.

Be my super hero that I dreamt of all those years ago, because you're already my hope for a better tomorrow, and you're only thirteen days old. Imagine what you could do years from now?

To slightly paraphrase a movie I'm sure I'll bore you with...

Live as one of them, Clarke, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Clarke; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only daughter.

Above all, whatever lies ahead in life. Know this. I will always have your back, I will do everything I can to give you the life that you want to have, and I will unequivocally love you with every fiber of my being.

Now go save the world, Clarke.