An Open Letter to My Daughter

Hey Little One (as Grandma Casabona so lovingly calls you),

I can’t believe you’re due in a week. To say this time went quickly is a bit of an understatement. In some ways it doesn’t quite feel real yet. But when I start to have that thought, I look at your mother, and I see you move, and I’m reminded how very real you are. I can’t wait to meet you.

I was never one for public outpouring of emotions. I actually like to think that I’m a pretty stoic person; everyone who knows me will tell you otherwise. But I do want to get some thoughts down in the waning days before my entire worldview changes (and you know, I’m low on sleep). Please bear with me; some of this will be cliche*.

*Ha! Since you’re new to the world, this won’t actually be cliche to you. Score one for Dad.

Every parent will have these predisposed notions of what they hope their kid will be. I’ve read that mothers will have a more concrete picture in their head of what their baby will look like. Right now, I just picture generic baby(tm). But I do think that you’ll be a Yankee fan, and a Star Wars fan. I think you’ll be outgoing like me. I think you’ll get all the best features of both your mother and me. I know it won’t be like that (except for being a Yankee fan, natch). And I won’t be disappointed because of it. There are some things I do hope and want for you, though.

I want you to be yourself.

Most people who know me know I’m not shy about my opinions. That I don’t fly off the handle, but I’m also not willing to back down and assert myself when necessary. It took me a long time to get there — well into college.

I hope that we teach you the difference between right and wrong. Armed with that knowledge, I hope you become the type of person your grandparents raised your mother and I to be. And because of that, I hope you’re never ashamed to be who you are. You will be challenged, and you will be wrong sometimes (more than sometimes if you’re like me). But at your core, I hope you know who you are. Being wrong isn’t all that bad, as long as you handle it the right way. It’s up to me to teach you that, too.

Don’t be Afraid of Experiences.

Your mother and I are going to have to do this balancing act that I know Gram and Gramps Casabona did preposterously well: we’re going to have to encourage you to do things while also sheltering you appropriately for your age. But the main take away is that I hope you cease the moment and opportunities that are presented to you.

When I was in High School, I was given the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Italy and Ireland for $900 — a ridiculously small amount of money, even by 2003 standards. I didn’t take it, and remember saying, “I can look at pictures on the internet.” I’ve since rectified that, going to both Ireland and Italy and spending 2 weeks in each place. But I hope you don’t have that same mindset.

You will Make Mistakes.

…and that’s OK. Mistakes are great. They make us who we are. They are perhaps the best way to learn. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my 31 and a half years. Not terrible life-ruining mistakes, mind you. Just little mistakes; misjudgements. Saying the wrong thing. Choosing not to do something when I should have chosen to do it.

Learn from your mistakes. Remember that every moment is a learning moment. If you do that, I’ll try to remember that every moment is a teaching moment.

Be Respectful.

If you’re anything like me, there will be people you’ll disagree with. They will be your peers, your teachers, your bosses, your elected officials, and your parents. It’s OK to voice your opinion — it’s why the first thing I told you is to be yourself. But remember that even when you disagree, you should be respectful. It will get you much more mileage than being a jerk. Trust me on that one.

We Will Always Love You.

Why am I telling you all this, even though you won’t be able to read it for a few weeks?

(Right? I still am not quite sure what I’m doing…I’m being told it’s more than weeks.)

I’m telling you this so I remember it. Because there will be times where things get difficult for all of us. Perhaps in my quest to make you the most spoiled girl on Earth, I’ll miss teaching you an important lesson. Perhaps in my anger, I’ll lose my cool and not communicate in the best way. But I need you to know, no matter what, your mother and I will love you. It’s up to us now, to teach you the things that we hope for you. If we do half as well as your grandparents, you’ll be in good hands.


Your Father

An Open Letter to My Daughter was originally published in Thoughts from Joe Casabona on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.