To my son, the boy you are, the him in you.

I hope you always reach for your father’s hands. They were molded so that you would one day place your putty palms into his larger ones, that you would never feel shame in squeezing tight. He has trained years for you. Do not be afraid to hold on for as long as you need.

You will grace the earth of my life like a summer storm no one knew how to prepare for. You and your wild-eyed mischief, I can already imagine your muddy footprints trailing the hardwood hallways of our little home. I can already see myself scooping you up, arms full of giggling magic, sitting your still-small body in the bathtub, letting you make me a bubble bath crown fit for a queen. Here, Mama, this one’s for you. You’ll place it on my head, careful and precise, as to not ruin it.

Carter Andrew, it is my hope that this is how you will always treat a woman.

When you first bring a girl home for dinner I will weep. Not out of sadness or anger that you have grown up before my eyes, but out of fear.

I know how these things go, sweet boy. I, too, have been the beautiful wreck of anxiety standing in the doorframe, not knowing whether to kick off my shoes or leave them on. I have been the tangle of nerves, the thing later violated, the woman stripped of a childhood. I have lived a life like hers, so I know.

But one look at you and it will all disappear. I can already feel the fear dissolving. Because you have trained years for this. You’ve grown into your father’s gentleness, into his ways of taking care, of squeezing tight. You’ve grown into something good, someone who stands tall with shoulders back and arms sturdy enough to catch her when she falls. You won’t let her hit the ground.

And maybe I’d have known it all along, years before, the night you crowned me with bubbles and your laughter splashed from the tub and onto the floor. The careful way you did it. You couldn’t have harmed a soap bubble if you wanted to.

Carter Andrew, whatever we name you when you first cry– and we promise to always let you cry into our shoulders when you need to– I trust you with my life already.

I trust you with the first girl and the last girl and every animal and place and heart you touch. I trust you without ever having met you because you will be a product of love, real love, that holds without leaving a mark. You will be loved before you ever experience love. You will be made of it, inside and out.

We have trained years for you, love of my life, for how sweetly you’ll storm this world.

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