If you’re reading this, congratulations. You survived your first year on this planet.
Now don’t let it go to your head — 99.5% of your peers accomplish the same feat. And let’s be real, your self-preservation instinct hasn’t exactly kicked in yet (as proven by your propensity to stick your fingers in light sockets, slam said fingers in drawers, swan dive out of your high chair, face plant off the stairs, and play with plastic bags), so most of the credit should go to your mother.
She’s awesome. Remember that.
A first birthday is cause for celebration — even if you won’t remember it. We’ve had a crazy year, huh little guy?
You’ve tripled your weight and grown almost a foot.
You got a passport and took more than 20 flights.
You went from completely immobile to rolling to crawling, and now to taking your first steps. Your current record is 8, but I have no doubt you’ll crush that very soon.
What’s daddy’s record? Um… I don’t know. Well, I did trip on the stairs the other day so I’ll have to restart the count.
You’ve read about a certain hungry caterpillar more times than I thought humanly possible. Spoiler alert: he turns into a butterfly.
You’ve brought us sleepless nights, ER visits, and hundreds of poopy diapers, but you’ve also brought us some unforgettable moments, hilarious laughter, and so many happy smiles from a couple reluctant parents.
Why you’re here
By any logical definition, there really aren’t any good reasons to have a baby. It’s not like we live on a farm and can look forward to forcing you into manual labor in a few years.
You cost time, money, and freedom — 3 things your mom and I happen to value quite a bit.
And yet, here you are.
Maybe we gave into the peer pressure. Come on! Everyone else is doing it!
Maybe we chalked it up to being a pretty big part of the adventure of life. Life doesn’t begin until you’re a parent!
Or maybe we just didn’t want to send off a big “eff you” to the millennia worth of our ancestors who all managed to get over themselves and procreate so we could be here today. You think having a kid today is tough? Try raising one in a cave with a hungry saber-toothed tiger outside!
But those are all pretty horrible reasons to bring life into the world.
So why ARE you here, son?
You’re here because deep down we believed you would make us better and happier people (again, selfish), but also that the world would be better off and happier — even in just some small immeasurable way — with you in it (slightly less selfish).
So we made you. Don’t ask how.
What you’re up against
So far your life has been pretty cush. You’ve had people taking care of you from the second you were born.
I don’t want to scare you, but it won’t always be that way.
Someday you’ll have to take care of yourself, and maybe even take care of us. I know! Weird, right?
On second thought, we’ll probably have robot butlers by then.
Your mom and I are doing our best to prepare you for this, but the truth is we have no idea what we’re doing. Your world is remarkably different than the one we grew up in.
I can’t say what the future holds, but I think you’ll be OK. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders (despite the lack of hair — sorry about that dude) and you’ll need it.
You’ll need it to figure out the challenges that come your way.
You’ll need it as a filter. There’s a flood of information that’s about to hit you, and you need a powerful filter to determine what’s actually important.
And here’s the thing. It’s probably not that much.
But most of all, you’ll need it to communicate and to connect with other people, to contribute, and to create.
Also, pizza is always a good choice.
This letter is getting kind of long for a 1-year old, so let me wrap up with a few words of advice I think will serve you well in this coming year and beyond:
Stay curious. Experiment. Explore.
Don’t sweat what you can’t control.
Build things you care about with people you care about.
Remember, you get to define your own success. I learned all this from my dad; it’s just taken decades to sink in. I hope we have that kind of time together too.
–Dad (and mom)
P.S. Oh, I almost forgot: your middle name.
It’s Kaizen. You’re probably going to get asked a lot about it, so remember this. It’s a Japanese word that means the practice of continuous improvement.
Getting better every day.
You won’t always be the best, but you can get better every day. That’s what your mom and I strive for and what we hope you strive for too.