A Letter to My Son or Pregnancy in 2016

The same week Trump was elected, a man in Georgia was executed, and two weeks before our dog died, and a month before that my dad was hospitalized for the third time for mental health issues unknown, and this is also the year Prince died.

It’s been a shit year.

Except, we are having a son.

What do I know?

I will love you, fiercely.

Your father will too. And I can only hope you are as kind and thoughtful as he is.

I know you have a smart and funny sister.

And that you will still be given more opportunities than her. You may look in the mirror one day and think “person,” but she will almost always think “girl,” which means “other,” which is the way most will see her even when they try not to. This is our country’s way.

When you take off your shirt on a hot North Carolina August afternoon, without a second thought, to run around our large back yard, she may look at me for permission. Not from anything I’ve told her, but she will ask me with her eyes for permission because of what the world is teaching her.

There is so much I can’t control.

Still, I call my father once a week to check on him, even though the conversation will suck me into a dry, tired heap of a person.

And I keep showing up to teach, chipping away at my students’ privilege and my other students without any privilege, who have been taught to demand nothing of me, to ask for nothing, to take scraps of education, and I must not let them accept so little. I must show up every day to show them what they deserve, and it will leave me tired and weary and inspired.

And I will tell your sister that she is brave and smart and strong. That we don’t strive for pretty, but beautiful. Pretty is the surface; beauty is all the layers of us, inside and out, and when we look deep enough, we can find beauty in everything.

And I will tell you—what will I tell you? That all of these issues are not your sister’s problems or your mother’s or your friend’s problems. They are yours, just as much if not more. They are yours, whether you asked for them or not.And I will help you navigate this world the best I can, but I’m still figuring it out myself.

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