An Open Letter to my 8-week old son about masculinity

January 25, 2018

My darling Hugo,

Today, I told you I was proud of you.  Twice.  Once, because you pooped (we were going on 48 hours with no stinky surprise, so I was so happy you made that happen), and a second time because you reached for a toy dangling above your head.  It was the first time you did that and I was overwhelmed with pride.  I’m telling you about these two pretty innocuous moments of pride today because I want you to know that I’ve been proud of you since the very beginning of your life.  I’m proud of you already and I know that these moments will only become more breathtaking and humbling as you grow up.

When your dad and I found out we that you were a boy, we were not immediately overjoyed.  Actually, we were pretty scared. You see, the year that you were born, it was pretty difficult to find a man in our world to admire.  Right now, boys and men on the news and in our media culture are not the kind of men we want you to grow up to be.  In just your first eight weeks of life, the President called Haiti, El Salvador and a group of African nations shitholes (his words, my darling, not mine), more powerful men have been fired from their jobs for previously committing sexual assault, and a USA gymnastics doctor was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing over 100 women.  The box office continues to be filled with white, violent, and culturally narrow-minded films.  Finding out we were having a boy was difficult news to hear because that meant that we had a lot of work to do.

Hugo, there is some good news here.  Even though the media and entertainment world around you reinforces a story of masculinity that is aggressive and abusive, you are surrounded by the best men that I know.  Your dad.  He may look like he could fight anyone who made him mad, but your dad is the kindest bear I know.  His heart is enormous.  He is always thinking about his mom and dad and sister (your grandma, grandpa, and auntie).  He believes in giving everything he can to his family.  He works at his job tirelessly and never complains. He is the joy of my life and will be yours, too.  Then I look at your two grandfathers.  They live two completely different lives:  one spends his day working in a mechanic shop and the other in an office, but both men are strong in faith, believe in the value of hard work, and love their families above all else.  

We, your family, are ready.  We are ready to take on the challenge of raising a young man in this world.  We are what matters and we will be your examples, but you need to keep your eyes, ears, and heart open.  Truthfully, Hugo, the world needs you.  We need good, loving, open-minded young men to take over and we’re ready to help you get there.  We will read, travel, talk openly, and learn together.  I hope your squirmy, adorably toothless smile turns into the smile on the face of a young man that defines being "a man" by how much love is in his life.  I love you, little buddy, and there will be more letters to come.  I’m proud of you already.