This letter is my way of showing you my appreciation of your newfound role. These proceeding words are meant to celebrate your efforts after a year and some change of changing stinky diapers, long nights dealing with endless crying for unknown reasons and all the other challenges that comes with being a dad. You’re doing something that doesn’t get much admiration these days and by the end of this, I want you to know that I thank you.
While we’ve moved into the territory of adulthood, we haven’t kept in touch over the years as much as we would have liked to and yet here we are. You and I have been friends for 20-plus years. I know you to be close family … and a year later you being a father still sounds funny to me.
We were two knuckleheads who made stupid mistakes as kids, stupid mistakes as teens and, yes, stupid mistakes as young men. We were rivals in “Street Fighter 2” and had arguments over who drew the better Sonic the Hedgehog. We’ve gotten wasted in public and hi-five’d each other when we got phone numbers from women. We’ve gotten in (albeit minor) trouble with the law and even worse, our parents together. We’ve celebrated victories and cried at losses.
It’s been a journey, a struggle, a battle and a war for us but here we are: men who have kept a bond strong to the point of brotherhood. Now I get the privilege and honor of watching you grow into fatherhood and I have to say I’m proud of you, man.
Considering I never thought you would be the one of us to have a kid first (let alone a girl), it still amazes me to see how gracefully you handled the responsibility. Granted I’m still working on getting a smile out of her when she sees me, she gets more beautiful every time I see her. And I see your love for her grow stronger and every time I see you with her, you inspire me to go for more.
Honestly, it’s given me something and someone, I should say, to fight for. I say this because I remember not too long ago we sat on the West Side Highway discussing where we were and came to the realization that we are going through similar trials as our fathers when they were our age. And during that night, I finally learned what they meant on Gangstarr’s “Robbin Hood Theory” when they said “if we’re not schooling the youth with wisdom, then the sins of the father will visit the children.”
They weren’t around to really tell us how to avoid certain situations so we ended up in them as well. It doesn’t mean sins as in bad things they’ve done; just hardships. They made mistakes and we never really learned how to not make the same ones because of the distance we had with them growing up. That said, we learned to progress on our own and from the times we’ve hung out recently, I don’t think we’ve ever been more alive. And nothing has made these changes sweeter and motivated more to do better as a man than seeing you with your daughter.
I should tell you that I’ve had some of the best memories recently because of her. When you brought her over to my apartment and she sat on your lap while we played “The Simpsons Arcade Game,” a game I don’t think we ever beat as kids, it was funny to see her rocking back and forth to our songs. We’ve had to come up with strategies so she wouldn’t see me take over pushing her stroller while you went on rides in Coney Island with your younger brother. We’ve gotten stares from women who clearly saw that we were amateurs to the whole ‘taking care of a child’ thing, despite there being two grown adults with her. We were two men and a baby, having fun and looking foolish.
I know it hasn’t been easy. Along with raising her, you’re making sure your grades are high enough to complete school and having your own things to deal with as a young brother in this society. It seems like the world tries to make everything more difficult for you in being a father but you haven’t given up. Not on yourself and definitely not on her. And while I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, I can see from your footprints that being a single young father isn’t a cakewalk but I wanted to congratulate you on a job well done so far.
You’re a good man for helping her to find her place in the world and you should really be honored and proud of yourself as well. I can tell from our zany man-ventures so far with her that she’s in loving hands and I hope that you know that I’m there for you every step of the way.
We’re family … always.
Happy Father’s Day, brother, and I look forward to celebrating many more with you.
Peace and Love …
—Photo credit: stevendepolo/Flickr
We are partnering with Salary.com to ask the question “What’s a Dad Worth?” Check out their interactive polls and surveys as we approach Father’s Day. You can also head to Salary.com’s Dad Salary Wizard to find out how much dads are worth, and even print out a paycheck for yourself or the dads in your life!