Someone recently asked Matt if he thinks he’s too hard on C.J. and his brother at some moments and too easy on them at others. The line of questioning irritated me because Matt is an amazing father. The next day, Matt sent to me this beautiful letter for safe keeping for C.J. (Chase got his own letter.)
Your mom loves this quote and has had it above her desk for years. I’ve seen it there and read it so many times that now it’s one of my favorites, too. It makes me think of you.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”— Marianne Williamson
I have said in many interviews over the past two years that the most important job I have as a father is to raise you and your brother to be respectful, responsible, courageous people. I don’t care if you love males, females or people who identify as neither or all of the above. I don’t care what toys you play with or what colors you like. I care that you respect yourself and others. That you are responsible for your own things and actions and the effects they potentially have on other people. I want you to act courageously, not cowardly. You don’t have to be a hero, but don’t make other people your victims or allow people to make you theirs. Always remember, being compassionate and understanding is just as important as being strong and decisive.
You make me proud and I love watching you grow as the years keep flying by. I’m inspired everyday by your creativeness, bravery and confidence.
A lot of times, when I hear LGBTQ people talk about growing up, they say that their parents were mean to them. I want you to always remember that I never, ever, do anything just to be mean to you or because I don’t love you or because I don’t approve of you. I like you. I love you. I approve of you. I think you’re perfect.
I’m sure you’ll find my parenting frustrating at times. You may think my rules are too strict and unwavering. I’m okay with that, because I’m a parent. I’m trying to help you become the best person you can be. I will push you and teach you and love you and support you. That’s my job. I’m sure at times you will say that I’m too hard on you or that I hold you to higher standards than other people. I’m alright with that too, because I do. As a parent, it is harder to be tough and consistent than lenient and convenient. I’m constantly working my hardest to help you be your best.
As you grow up, you will disappoint your mother and me by making poor choices. That’s alright too. That’s why it’s called growing up. I just want you to grow from the times when you stumble. I’ll always be right behind you to pick you up and point you in the right direction again. That’s my job. Your job is to learn from your mistakes. You have to get back on the right path and let me hold your hand as you walk a little farther along.
When you are an adult and leave our home, you will never leave my heart or my family. By that time, I hope I will have prepared you to be an exceptional person with inspirational qualities. I am so proud of the person you are becoming and the character you are already demonstrating. Always be true to who you are. Never doubt who you are. Never.
Life will be tough and unfair. People will be jerks. You may be judged and people may be condescending toward you. Don’t let anyone make you play small. Don’t ever let anyone prevent you from being your most honest, whole self. Don’t shrink to make others feel more comfortable. Your true personality and character are what make you the person I love.
Your journey will be difficult and frustrating like many other young adults. Always remember that when things get hard I will be right behind you pushing you to learn and be resilient. I will always love you and support you and I will always have your back, ALWAYS.