Dear sons, there will come a day when you no longer see me as Daddy. You will no longer think of me as you do today, with the child’s perception that your parents are flawless. No, there will come a day in your early teens, maybe sooner, when you see my frailties and flaws, my weaknesses and hypocrisies, my shortcomings and scars. When that day comes, at first you will resent me for not being perfect. You will be angry at me for failing to live up to that child’s perception of dad as a superhero, and more than likely, you won’t like me very much. It’s part of growing up, part of becoming your own person, and part of maturing beyond childhood. The process can be painful, and when that day comes, our relationships will change forever.
But change is not a bad thing. After you’ve grown to accept my limitations as a person, hopefully there will also come a day when you see my strengths. You will also hopefully never know all of the sacrifices I’ve endured for your sakes. I don’t want you to know those, and I hope you never have to experience the same things I have. What I hope, for both of you, is that you grow into smarter, stronger, more confident men than I am. For my part, I will do my best to guide you in that direction, to teach you to avoid the same mistakes I’ve made. You’re going to make mistakes; that’s part of learning. But hopefully, you will not repeat the ones I’ve made.
If I can give you one thing in life to help you, it would be self-esteem. The earlier you can learn to value yourself appropriately, the happier you will be in life, and the less likely you will be to settle for less than you deserve. It took me nearly 36 years to begin building my self-esteem, and over the last three years, the process of accepting myself as I truly am has been painful. But through that process of self-discovery, I’ve gained a lot of strength and have learned not to allow people to abuse my kindness, degrade my person, or mistreat me in any way. My hope for you boys is that you’ll build your self-esteem much earlier in life so that you have that strength earlier than I did.
When you are old enough to comprehend, I will share with you some of my mistakes. For now, just know that I have learned that most of those mistakes were caused by my feelings of inadequacy, by my lack of real self-esteem. Please, also know that today, I believe in myself much more than I did even just three years ago. My life is far from perfect, and I have a long way to go before I’ll consider myself a fully healed individual, but I believe I’m heading in the right direction. I’ve endured many trials in my life, and from each of them, I’ve learned something invaluable about myself, both good and bad. Today, I feel like a decent person with a lot to offer this world, and my hope for you is that you will both always feel that way about yourselves.