Bringing a Baby into a Pandemic

A letter to my baby boy, born last week. About the time he was born, and the lessons from this virus and quarantine.

Dear W, 

The reaction from people, when I told them that your mom was pregnant during the last few months, was mostly rooted in concern. Maybe even pity sometimes. And it’s understandable. Right now, the world is going through something and our whole future is in doubt.  

We’ve been locked down. Forced to stay in our homes to stop the spread of a contagious disease called Covid-19. Quarantined for the last 10 weeks. We were told to socially distance ourselves, which is to say, we cannot get within 6 feet of anyone. The whole world, or most of it, has basically just stopped.

Businesses closed. And a lot of them will never return. Big companies are declaring bankruptcy every day. And laying off tens of thousands of people. More of both will come. A lot of people have lost their jobs. Our unemployment will eclipse something called The Great Depression, which until this, was the hallmark of terrible times in the United States. Many people are struggling financially. And emotionally. And a lot of people have gotten sick. Many have passed away. 

We’ve slowed the spread of the disease, at least I think we did. And we’re just starting to return to work. And life. But we’re looking forward into a very uncertain future. Right now, we have no ideas what the world will look like in 10 years. Or 10 months. Or even 10 weeks. 

And now you’re here. With us. This amazing, and perfect child. Born into this very imperfect time. 

I have been thinking about you and your life so much lately. As a father, it’s a weird to bring a child into the world during the heart of a crisis. When you can’t see the future. 

But while this has been a crisis for sure. There is so much good that continues to come out of it. I thought I would write to you about six things that this time has taught and reminded me. And how it will shape your future and mine. I thought they might give you a window into what the world was like when you were born and maybe even help you as you go through it.

Here it goes. 

  1. You choose the world that you want to create around you. And by world, I mean the people you surround yourself with. You can bring the best out in people with kindness. And compassion. And selflessness. And optimism. And hope. And humor. And love. And strength. I’ve seen so much of that since this whole Covid-19 crisis started. And that has been amazing. You have the ability to bring all these amazing people around you. The best of all of them. Creating this utopia in which you and yours live. You can also bring the worst out in people with anger. And hatred. And racism. And selfishness. And judging. And blaming. I’ve also seen so much of that since this thing started. And that is horrible. There is something called the law of attraction. It means that we will attract to our lives what we focus on. And what we practice. And it definitely works. Consider the world and the people you want to attract. Act accordingly. 
  2. Gratitude is the key to unlocking happiness. In my best and my worst times, I realized that I need to give thanks. To appreciate my life and the blessings that I continue to receive. Even in the hardest times, times like these, we all have so much for which to be thankful. Even if you have little else left, be thankful that you can breathe. Because if you can breathe, you can go on to create this amazing life. No matter where you find yourself today. There has been so much thanks given during this time. If you drive down streets or turn on the TV or go on social media right now, they are all littered with gratitude. It’s pretty amazing to see. This is why our family will say things we’re thankful for, every night before bed. I don’t know if Covid-19 ever hit I would be making us all do this. It’s probably going to be annoying at times for you. I just want to drill it in your head how important this is. Brainwashed almost. It will be worth it. 
  3. Make your own growth a high priority. It’s a great secret in life that stagnation is the greatest assassin that ever lived. It’s the main killer of people, of minds, of relationships, of businesses…of everything. In this quiet time, classes and webinars are popping up everywhere. I personally got back to learning. Reading, watching, thinking, and doing new things. Just a focus on growth, any way I can. You will get to a point in your life or your career or your relationships, when you feel like you know it all. Or know enough. And that’s completely wrong. And that is the beginning of the end for any of those things…Since this quarantine struck, I started something new. I put myself in front of a camera. Something I thought I would never do. But it’s been exhilarating. Liberating. I’m not great at it yet. But I will get there as I learn and grow through it. You will hear this from me relentlessly as you go through life. It’s not ‘just keep going’, it’s ‘just keep growing.’ Going, is going nowhere. Growing will take anywhere you want to go.
  4. Kindness & Strength. If there are two qualities, I would ever want you to have, that I will parent you to have, they are kindness and strength. It’s the best combination that makes up the best people. There are countless examples of this going on right now, but the most glaring are healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses working countless hours, helping patients battle this thing. Risking their own well-being for the sake of others. For the sake of strangers….I’m not telling you to go be a doctor or nurse. I’m telling you to be strong in the face of anything. Be kind and compassionate and giving to others who need to draw from your strength. It can be the simplest of things…When we were in the hospital, with you just a day old, your mom and I, sleep deprived and weary, saw our neighbor on our Ring doorbell. Mowing our lawn. Being strong and kind when we couldn’t help ourselves…Strength and kindness. They will create this inner value in you that will carry your further than your wildest dreams. And build real meaning into your life.
  5. Look to science and logic for guidance, but balance it with art to make your world beautiful. My dad, your grandfather, one of a few people for whom your named after, taught us that 6-hugs-per-day was an antidote for many of life’s ills. He was right, it actually works. I’ve heard scientists say no more hugging or handshaking to stop the spread of germs. They are trying to keep us away from physically touching each other. But that’s a problem and they are not seeing it. Just one simple hug. This show of affection. This show of love. This bond. The physical connection that it brings to me. It’s just as important to the beating of my heart as my lungs. We’ve gotten so far into data and science in this world that sometimes we lose sight of what’s important. Of what matters. Of the amazing beauty that’s out there…There is a great quote from a graphic novel called ‘Watchmen’, ‘Is it possible, I wonder, to study a bird so closely, to observe and catalogue its peculiarities in such minute detail, that it becomes invisible? Is it possible that while fastidiously calibrating the span of its wings or the length of its tarsus, we somehow lose sight of its poetry?’…Never get so caught up in data and science so mich that you lose sight of the poetry and the beauty of this world. There is so much of it to be seen and felt.
  6. Be still. Sometimes. There are great things uncovered in stillness. Hidden in the chaos and noise that comes with regular life. Life is fast, and bright, and loud. And since this started there has been incredible silence and stillness. This stillness has been weirdly great for your mom and I. And your brother and sister. And now with you. We’ve been home together. Just us. Basically staring at each other. Finding things to do with each other. There were times, when this all this time inside, so close to each other, made us crazy. But all this time with just us would have never happened without this virus. And it has been incredibly special. Make time for people, quiet time. For people you love. Even amidst this great noise that usually happens in life. Yes, we’re all ready to return to the world. Whatever this new world will look like. And I want you to go out and experience every bit that this world has to offer. But we will build a stillness into our lives because of this. Maybe through days of the week. Maybe in the trips we take. It is amazing. And everyone should experience stillness with regularity. 

So while this future is uncertain. And it has been brutal to many people. This present situation, while trying and hard, different and crazy, has been special and unique and interesting for me.

And you coming into this world. This amazing beam of light. This amazing future-maker. You have made this whole thing amazing for me.

Maybe history will be written around you. This crisis was here. And then you were born. And the world changed for the better because of you. 

You already changed our world for the so much better. 

For that I am certain. And in this time of great uncertainty. That is enough for me. 

We love you already. More than you can imagine.