As a father, there are no guarantees about how your children are going to turn out. You give them love, food & shelter, an opportunity at a good education. You teach them by example on how to treat other people and handle situations. You show them the rewards of hard work. They learn from watching you about pride and honor. They learn from you to be happy or miserable in life. You have that power as a parent.

But still in the end, children are shaped by so many things. And while parents are a big influence, they certainly do not control who their kids become as adults. So we sit there, and we hope and we wish things for our kids.

I’ve seen parents wish for a lot of things. They wish their kids be respectable citizens. They wish that they go to the right colleges. They wish they marry the right people. I’ve seen parents need their kids to have kids. Or bully them into living close to home. Any many, many people want their kids to be rich.

I feel like these are selfish wishes masked as selfless ones. Under the guise of ‘this is better for them,’ when in reality, it is really better for us as parents. I realized this, and have since reshaped my wishes for my own kids. And they can’t understand it yet, but I wrote this for them…

H & M,

I don’t wish for you to become rich, but just wish that you are wealthy in life. I don’t wish that you become happily married, but just hope that you are happy. I don’t need you to have kids, but I do hope that you experience the joy you have given me through children in some way.

I don’t want you to just walk through life. I want you to be challenged. Pushed to the brink at least once. Where you don’t think you have anything left. And then I wish that you to dig deeper, to discover what is really inside of you. To find out what you are truly capable of. Because it’s so much more than you probably realize.

I wish that you find failure. I wish that you find success. In that order. This builds character. This builds appreciation for what it takes to achieve something great in this world.

I hope that you fulfill your wildest dreams. Not by winning the lottery, but by earning it. By working for it. By mastering whatever it is that you need to master. By overcoming whatever it is that you need to overcome.

I hope that you grow to be independent. To be strong. But at the same time, I hope you learn to lean on others. To realize that this world doesn’t reward people for doing everything on their own. (Maybe it was my pride. Maybe it was my young age. Maybe it was just pure stupidity. But this one took me a while to truly understand.) And selfishly, I wish that I am one of the people you lean on. I don’t have to be, but I will be there.

I wish for you a warm heart of compassion. For empathy in the pain of others. For people close to you and those in need all around the world. I also wish for you the ability to empathize in the joy of another. To feel that joy as if it was your own. A quality sadly, and surprisingly lacking in this world.

I hope that you grab a hold of the lightning bolt that is love. Several times in your life. I also wish upon you, heartbreak…but only once. And then, when you are healed, I wish for you to experience love strong enough to pierce a heart. And then I pray, that you learned in that one heartbreak how much strength it takes to stay with someone for a lifetime. And I wish that the person you end up with, understands the same.

I wish that you find inspiration in whatever it is that you do for work. That need, that drive, that force that requires you to be the very best that you can be. I hope you find an equal inspiration in your home. And I hope that you inspire everyone you touch in all facets of your life.

There will be highs and lows. I wish you strength in those down times. And equally, if not more importantly, I hope you to embrace happiness in the high times. Fight that fight when you need to stay afloat. Ride that wave when you get one, with a humongous smile on your face.

I hope you discover that great sense of humor about life. Life is really funny. But not everyone seems to get the jokes. I hope you do. It makes things so much easier. So much better.

I hope you value your life. That you value every day. Every minute. There are not enough of them to let any go to waste.

Lastly, I wish that you live a life that you are proud of. And whenever you get off track…I wish that you go back to simply doing the things that which make you proud.

I could write novels about what I wish for you in life. But albeit seemingly selfless, these are still just my wishes, and maybe some or all aren’t important to you. I am as ego-less about you as anything I have ever been or ever will be, in my life. I know you will be good people at heart. You already are, just in little bodies. My overarching wish for you is just that you do the best for you…in your own eyes. Whatever that may be.