Be a better man: A letter to my son

I was in the restroom at my office when I saw the two blue lines.

I stared at the lines, two very dark ones at that, and felt a knot in my throat as I said in a loud whisper: “Really, God?”

And it was true. After all the waiting–here you are. Just a poof of magic fairy dust.

Here I am, within my second trimester, and you are much more now than two blue lines on the 13 pregnancy tests that I took to make sure you were really there, snug as a bug in my belly.

You’re my son now.

River Scofield, to be exact.

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I’ve seen you on two ultrasounds. I’ve seen your dad smile at the sight of your little hands waving at us on the gray and white screen and I’ve cried over each beat of your heart. But nothing caught my breath as much as the words “You’re having a baby boy”.

I’ve waited for you my whole life, River.

And somehow, deep down, I always knew it would be a son.

You’re a miracle, right from the start. A 1-percent chance turned into a little boy. That miracle pregnancy will turn into a baby which will turn into a child, and someday a man.

And just that thought alone scares me.

I think in this day and age that we live in, girls are far more treasured when they come into the world–by society, that is. And that’s because men have a bad rap right now. With sexual allegations taking over the headlines every morning and feminism-turned-anti-man at an all time high, many of our men are under the microscope for being immoral, lazy, offensive–or even predatory.

And for so many cases, that’s the truth. I’ve met and have loved and have been hurt by terrible men. I’ve dated guys with bad intentions and cruel words and have seen my fair share of guys who have little respect for authority or women or themselves. I’ve been divorced. I’ve been a witness to abuse. I’ve worked with guys who make horrible comments and get away with it and I’ve witnessed firsthand the terrible draw and the even more gut-wrenching after-effects of pornography addiction, night clubs, and sexual promiscuity.

And I’m nervous now, as I hold my growing belly, to bring you into that era. I’m nervous to raise a son in an ever-evolving Soddom and Gomorrah type of a world that is so close to destruction.

I’m not going to write a stereotypical list of all the things I want you to learn or be. I’m not going to wish for you to play sports or be a photographer like me or go to the best university or read just as many books as your dad and I have. I’m not going to wish for you to have certain interests or certain hobbies.

My only wish is for you to be a better man.

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Be like your dad. Like your grandpas and great grandpas. Like the men we look back on fondly and say softly, “Those were good men”.

When I married your father I had the thought plenty of times that if I ever have a son I want him to be just like his dad. And it’s true. I married the man who will set an example for how you should treat your mother and sister and how you should respect your father. I married the man who will teach you how to be kind, how to be confident in yourself, how to live a physically healthy life as well as an emotionally healthy life. I married a man who is brave and loving and will teach you how to hook a proper fishing line, prepare a proper meal, and become strong (he has already told me he will teach you how to lift). Maybe you’ll have a love for films like your dad. Maybe you’ll inherit his knack for cooking without a recipe and his talent at showmanship and sales. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll have his charm and his quick-wit and his gorgeous blue eyes. Maybe you’ll steal his big laugh or his way of making friends in an instant. Maybe you’ll love seafood like him and go crazy over oyster shooters.

But more than that I hope you inherit his goodness. His gentleness. The way he bends over backwards to make sure his family is taken care of. I hope you inherit his humor in hard situations and his calming presence in chaos. I hope you inherit his loyalty and his directness. I hope you inherit his heart.

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I want you to be a better man like your grandpa was. He died before you were even a thought, but I know you’ll have his blood running through your veins. Maybe you will inherit his love of the woods and the mountains and the ocean–or maybe you will spend summers at the river with your pant legs rolled up to the knee as you dig in the mud for crawdads, just like he did. Maybe you’ll love nothing more than the smell of a campfire and maybe Christmas will be your favorite time of year just like him. It’s possible you’ll have his laugh or his love for corny chick flick movies.

I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter as much to me as something else I hope you’ll inherit. I hope you share his kindness. His silliness. The way he treasured his children and prioritized his wife. I hope you love God as much as he did and find ways to serve those who need it most without talking about what you did. I hope with all my heart that you have no shame in dancing, even if you aren’t any good, and no shame in being yourself and being completely uninterested in opinions about you–just like him. I hope you inherit his spirit.

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I want you to be a better man like the Savior was. I know you won’t be perfect. I know you’ll fall short. I know you won’t always say the perfect things or follow in his footsteps every day of your life. But I hope with all my heart that you inherit his love for others. His influence in making people better versions of themselves. His way of making friends with people of all different lifestyles and cultures and being bold in what you believe. His way of leaving light on those who need a helping hand, a confidence boost, a little bit of hope during hard times. I hope you inherit his influence.

I have so much hope for your life. Lots of excitement. Some nervousness about messing it all up, of course. But I believe in you. With the men who have come before you and the sweet spirit I know you already have, it can overcome the darkness of other influences that will be all over the place as you grow up.

I hope to see all the great men in your life in you. I hope to see you also pave new paths and be a great man for your children and your grandchildren to pattern themselves after. Someday, long after I’m gone, you too will have generations of people saying “I hope my son is like River”.

But most of all, I wish for you to add lots of light to this world.

You’ve already added so much to mine.

Love you forever,

Your mommy.

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3 thoughts on “Be a better man: A letter to my son

  1. OH MY GOODNESSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!

    I just read this and my heart got so happy. For many many many reasons!

    Love to ALL of you 🙂

    Like

  2. Congrats! I can only imagine the pure joy and raw emotion you are feeling after such a long wait. My sister waited 7 years before her first came along. I’m sure you’ll raise a better man.

    You have so much positivity in your writing. I’m not a writer, but rather an analyst. Since you have offered so much inspiring writing, please allow me to offer some inspiring data about the world your son is being born into.

    *Global poverty has never been lower
    *Child mortality has never been lower
    *Teen births has never been lower
    *Abortion has never been lower
    *War has never been lower
    *Murder has never been lower
    *Violent crime has never been lower
    *Educational is greater than ever
    *Democracy has never been more widespread
    *Civil Rights have never been more widespread
    *Life expectancy has never been greater
    *Food costs have never been lower
    *Greater opportunities for women

    The LDS Church and much of conservative media often says the world is in hopeless decline. This apocalyptic tone was present in this post. This simply is not true. While there are still many challenges to tackle, one of which is helping men adjust to a modern world that does not need as much testosterone, violence, or brute strength, I embrace the narrative that the world is better than ever. A narrative that is backed by data.

    Like

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