About Kids and Expectations – A Letter To My One-Year-Old Son On His Birthday


September 5, 2013 by Katia

I don’t have a magic wand and that’s just fine. Magic wands are not the way things are supposed to happen. I’ve read between the lines of enough children’s books to understand that principle, but had I been offered a magic wand about two and a half years ago, I’m afraid I wouldn’t hesitate for a second and snatch it. I also know exactly what I’d be asking for. It would be the same thing I was asking my substitute magic wands for in my prayers and meditations, simultaneously grading myself on my “meaning it” level, the same thing I was asking for at the fertility and acupuncture clinics back when I was broken.

My expectation- defying One Year Old, I’ve been trying to write you a letter ever since your birthday last month to explain just how much you mean to me, but I can’t seem to find the words to meet my own expectations and I worry that I won’t meet yours. I know that just like your brother, 4 Year Old, you too will be looking for reassurance on your significance one day. Would you accept my explanation that my love for you is as all encompassing as my love for your brother, therefore I need two hearts and lucky me, I  have them, one for each of you, or will you be giving me the same skeptical look I get from your brother?

If I said something like” I was learning from you since before we’ve even met” or that “you taught me so much about what I’m capable of” besides sounding incredibly corny would it make you feel burdened with a sense of responsibility for me? Would you develop unrealistic expectations of yourself, or maybe you’re used to them by now?

Are kids and expectations as inseparable as motherhood and guilt?

I’m inventorizing my expectations of you and I come to realize that expectations preceded and urged you. First the ultimate expectation. For an entire year every month we were expecting that you materialize from a wish into reality. Expecting you. Expecting of you. That’s a huge responsibility, I know. Had I gotten my magic wand I wouldn’t have learned from you that I could survive a year of limbo and a crashed heart. I wouldn’t know that I’m strong. Thank you for showing me that.

I scroll down my inventory list and realize that so many assumptions we were making were based on expectations, although we would probably never define them as such. They just seem too trivial and mundane. Camouflaged expectations. We expect of our baby to sleep in a bassinette! – dream big, right? We did buy a brand new bassinette for you, assuming, expecting, never questioning that you may have other preferences than your brother, deciding instead to curl up against us in our own bed. We’ve disposed of the overworked bouncy chair defeated into submission and shape shifting by your brother’s extra pounds, for the sake of a new one that you would cry the minute we tried putting your 15th percentile two weeks early self into.  Thank you for introducing that “sibling diversity” into our little family unit, I was so curious about this as an only child.

I never had any expectations as to what you would look like. I would have been good with anything. I wanted you to look like Ben at the exact same time wanting you to surprise me and not to. That dimple on its own, the single dimple of your right cheek, would have been enough to make me fall hopelessly in love with you, but you had to grow these dark curls too. A bitter lifelong battle with my own curls anything but prepared me for feeling so elated at the sight of curls. I never expected that.

I should know better by now. Isn’t parenting all about expecting the unexpected? Which one of my blogging friends was it who wrote recently that children will surprise you and never in the ways that you expect them to?

The road to you, Daniel, was not easy and I wasn’t expecting to travel it for quite that long. I was expecting to get a baby out of it. But when I look at you now, the embodiment of all that is cute in a baby, I can see past the sparkle in your eyes the toothy grin, chubby toes and the funniest curls ever. I see someone who took that long and arduous road and arrived with me.  I see my fellow traveller.


This post was a Finish The Sentence Friday post on the topic: If I had a magic wand…

July 2013 003

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24 thoughts on “About Kids and Expectations – A Letter To My One-Year-Old Son On His Birthday

  1. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. You are so blessed to have each other – thank you for sharing this amazing letter 🙂

  2. Ok, I loved this letter to your son and seriously left me wiping my eyes. Tonight so far quite a few FTSF posts have done that to me. But still I found myself thinking so much about my journey of having my own kids and you said this so perfectly and beautifully. Thank you for sharing with us and linking this up with us, too!

  3. Dana says:

    Happy birthday to your baby – he is precious! That photo – looking back at you while reaching up and away – that’s what childhood is all about. I know how hard it is to write these birthday letters; I struggled with my own last month. You did a wonderful job, Katia.

  4. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    Oh, that gorgeous baby took my breath away! I’ve lost my train of thought! And I see some of his mama in that beautiful face, I think! I loved your thoughts about the entwinement of our dreams and expectations with our children’s sense of responsibility for them- wow! And I really liked your closing lines- I often forget that my Sophie was that same soul I was longing for during those months of disappointment and waiting, who chose to begin her life journey along with me. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. sandinmytoestk says:

    He’s adorable! I’m sure he’ll come back to read this one day and understand the gift of beautiful words you’ve bestowed on him. This was a lovely read! #FTSF

  6. Oh, he is gorgeous Katia! What a beautiful letter; a wonderful thing for him to read someday. Happy birthday to your little one.

  7. I think your letter to him is beautiful and he is absolutely precious!

  8. Katia, this is absolutely beautiful. Happy, happy birthday to your adorable little man. I believe he’ll cherish your words one day. And that he came at exactly the right time. I think about this too. Sometimes I wish Tucker came to me earlier. But then, would he be Tucker?

  9. Sarah says:

    Katia, I love that picture and those chubby little legs. Such a beautiful letter to your son, and such a deep perspective after one year…. And yes, I agree, parenting is the ultimate experience in letting go of expectations….

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful letter and even more beautiful son. I admire your passion and the way you convey the depth of your emotions when you write. I truly look forward to reading your blog every time I get a chance. And yes, I want to be them when I grow up, too.

  11. Sarah Almond says:

    Imagine these beautiful letters (one every year?) that you write to your children being put together in a book someday. What a precious, priceless thing for them to cherish! I loved this-and the photo of your cutie patootie boy!

  12. […] I don’t have a magic wand and that’s just fine. Magic wands are not the way things are supposed to happen.  […]

  13. Jen says:

    Oh I love this post so much Katia. Lately I have been struggling so much with my son turning 8. Time is so fleeting, it’s funny how there are certain milestones that make you look back more than others. You are such a beautiful writer, this is such a wistful post.

  14. This is so beautiful & poignant. You are truly blessed.

  15. […] recently wrote a post about some of what Daniel has taught me about myself. IAMTHEMILK taught me a few important lessons as well. Like, for example, that an AHA […]

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