Dear Harrison Greene,
Well, son, you’re 1-month-old today. A month that has felt like a year while going by in the blink of an eye. Your Mom and I knew you’d keep us on our toes, but to be fair, this wasn’t exactly what we had in mind.
While we spent your first week in the NICU. We have filled the last 3 weeks with family visits, doctor visits, multiple states, and countless miles. So upfront: thank you for being a great “car ride” baby. I mean, considering everything, I’d say your Mom and I were owed at least that much, right?
I guess with that little comment, I should clarify the purpose of my little jokes and comments that I make. First off: it’s fun to watch people squirm. Especially your uncle when I commented on how you’d make a great T-Rex for Halloween. (Something you’re already proving me wrong with, with your range of motion in your arms, thanks for that). No, the reality is, some people are going to look at you differently, some people will treat you differently, because to them, you are different. I don’t want people acting or treating you or your condition as some taboo subject that has to be skirted over. It’s not fair to you or even to them. So the comments and jokes are there to break the ice. To make this something we’re not scared of, but is normal. Our new normal.
You’re different. Technically, everyone is different. Just like your brother pointed out when we first were telling him about your condition, and like I told him: he’s right, it’s just that you get to have an awareness day for what makes you different.
The sad fact is, at some point in your life, you’re going to be bullied or made fun of. It’s not fair, it sucks, but humans aren’t always the most compassionate of species. So it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and son, I want you strong enough emotionally and mentally to handle that. So I can’t promise I won’t always make little remarks, especially if I see someone acting awkward with you. I’m not belittling your condition or situation. It doesn’t mean I love you less. It’s my way to help bring things to a place of normality for all the people around you.
My biggest fear is that someone is going to miss seeing you for how amazing and how special you are. Simply because they can’t look past their own awkwardness, because you don’t fall into their definition of “normal.” I don’t find that acceptable for you or them. Because, son, let me tell you, you’re amazing. You’re only a month old, and you’re already breaking through expectations and ceilings. Not only that; you’re definitely making me a better person and better Dad.
Yeah, that’s about as cliché as it gets. I’m not oblivious to that fact (or the fact that I’m writing you a letter on a blog. Let’s quit with all the semantics!). Just because something is cliché doesn’t make it any less true, though. I’m better all-around because of you, who you are, and the things your mother and I are going through. (Except my gut. This whole stress thing, on top of already putting on sympathy weight during your Mom’s pregnancy, along with the little extra COVID fluff is really getting me back into a dad bod realm I wanted to avoid son!)
Speaking of your Mom; if at some point down the line I don’t tell you and make sure you understand how amazing your Mom is, then I’m doing a disservice to you and her. I’m telling you right now, in 10-12 years, when you’re supposed to be writing a paper about a person you look up to for school, that person will be your Mom. No exceptions, sorry.
I know you’ve not been given the same path that others get to take, and I’ve hated it for your Mom, I admit it, but your Mom was built to be this Mom for you. Your Mom is amazing. You couldn’t ask for a better Mom on the journey you’re going to be on. That goes double for me. You and I lucked out with getting stuck with her, kiddo. I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else. So, we’ve really gotta knock it out of the park on Mother’s Days from here on out, ok? So, just start brainstorming now!
We’ve gone through a lot in this first month, and I’m sorry to say, but we’re only starting. You’ve made so many strides in such a short time. That second night in the NICU, when it was just you and me, I told you then that we’d figure this out. I stood there and through the tears, telling you I loved you and that I was always going to be here, and that you were going to be amazing. Well, son, in ways you’ve already exceeded the expectations I had that night, so we might need to work on what’s above amazing. Because your starting point is amazing. I am already so proud of you, so proud of the determination I can already see in your eyes. You’re a month old, I love you so incredibly much, and you’re already my hero.
On your left, always,