Last year I wrote you a letter for your fifth birthday. I thought I’d do the same again for you this year.
You don’t know the full extent of the world’s current crisis, and that’s on purpose, but right now there’s a global pandemic that has altered the world that I had assumed we’d both be living in for your sixth birthday.
You don’t even get to finish kindergarten! That is hard for me to wrap my mind around. Kindergarten was such a foundational year for me, so I think constantly about how this time in your life will define your childhood for the rest of your life as well. I had not anticipated anything like this at all.
Your mom has been sick and isolated from us for the last eighteen days or so. It’s been really hard for her to be so sick, buddy. For a while we thought because of how sick she was that she might have the coronavirus, and it was scary. After multiple requests to be tested she was finally admitted to the hospital and tested this past week. She tested negative, thank goodness. Life would have been even crazier and more unpredictable for us if she had it. But she has been resting and getting better, and still has a way to go before she’s back to her normal self.
Our world is filled with uncertainty right now. Everything is unprecedented. Watching the daily news feels surreal. And honestly, I’m thankful that you don’t truly understand all that is going on. You just are happy that you get to spend all this time at home with your brother and your eight big sisters.
I recognize the responsibility and privilege I have right now to create lifelong happy memories of what it was like to be quarantined in our home for days on end. And so I’m trying my best to do that for you and for the nine other kids that I’m taking care of each day.
We live a peculiar life, Ezra, but one that I wouldn’t give up for nearly anything. I love seeing the girls, your “sisters,” give you so much attention and love. Even after over three and a half years I can’t believe that your mom and I get to be full-time co-workers while also being full-time stay-at-home parents. That is so special.
You are a very clever and smart kid. Your teachers know it, I know it, and everyone that is around you knows it. Everyone also knows that you can also be quite mischievous, and that sometimes has gotten you into trouble at school this year. We are working on that with you, but we know that you’ll use that energy and intellect for making this world a better place because you are also a very sensitive soul with a curious mind.
I love that you ask me to pray for guardian angels to watch over you while you sleep each night at bedtime. I love how you seem to have a knack for asking all the questions that have no answers. I love the sense of deep existential curiosity that you have. It keeps me on my toes. Your questions and insights have challenged me and my own thinking about how this universe works, and I appreciate and thank you for that.
I don’t know what the rest of this season looks like, but it looks to be a long and bumpy road ahead. We’ll be in it together making memories all along the way, though. This will be a significant era in our lives that you don’t recognize right now, but it will help define our relationship for the rest of our lives.
I look forward to twenty years from now looking back on this time and reflecting with you about how it changed everything in this world – politics, government, economics, travel, and our understanding of disease and pandemics. What will that world look like? Will we learn from this time?
You’ve grown a lot and have such a strong personality. You know your own likes and dislikes. You know you want to be an astronaut and so you do your best to learn math problems, sometimes even showing up our teenagers with your math trivia.
No matter what anyone else ever throws in our path, I’ll always love you with my whole heart. This world gives us all sorts of challenges to overcome. And together, we will overcome them all. I feel proud to be your dad. And I count these years while you remain small and unaware of the troubles in this world as precious.
I love that you still are willing to kiss me on the lips and give me big bear hugs before bed. I love that you automatically reach for my hand anytime we are walking out in public. I love how much you love hugs. I love how for as much as you love superheroes, I’m still your biggest and strongest hero.
This past year has been quite the ride. As we enter into your sixth year on this earth we face a lot of uncertainties. But as we move forward one step at a time, reach up your hand and you’ll find my hand there to walk with you through it all.
I love you more than you could possibly know.
Happy sixth birthday, Ezra!