How are things? Still hanging out in your Mommy's tummy for the time being I know, but the moment of departure is rapidly approaching. We will finally get to meet you here in a couple weeks. Your Mom and I are pretty excited- as ready as we can possibly be and still be slightly terrified. We've heard all the stories, good and bad, and we have well to not find out if you are a boy or girl. It will be the best surprise of our lives, and as long as you and your Mom are healthy I couldn't care less.
Over the past nine months, since we found out about your impending arrival in early September, I have done a lot of soul searching. I have thought about what my Dad, your Grandpa, taught me about life and being a good Father. I've thought about your Great Grandpas, who I wish you could have met, and all their awesome lessons about being men of strength while making it known that each of their children and grandchildren were loved beyond measure. Your Mom and I both were very fortunate to have great role models for parenthood and life in general. We look forward to passing what we learned on to you.
I do have to warn you, though, that some of these lessons will not be all sunshine and rainbows. Along the way, you will learn the hard way about a variety of things. The world has a lot of problems, things that even the smartest adults haven't been able to figure out yet for a lot of reasons. As you get older, you'll see some ugliness that no matter what I cannot shield you from. You'll learn about loving someone other than a family member, and sometimes how that can end up hurting you. It sucks. But you learn from these things and move on, and hopefully you'll be someone who makes the world better.
One of the greatest, and hardest, things that I look forward to passing on to you is my love of sports. A good bit of who I am as a person is made up by my life in athletics, and a part of that is my fandom of a variety of sports teams. I do have to apologize for one thing; if I have my way, you will be a fan of Washington D.C sports teams like the Redskins, the Nationals and the Capitals. Passing that on may be harder than our eventual "Birds and the Bees" talk...
What are the "Birds and the Bees"? Ask your mother in 15 years or so.
Anyway, being involved in sports can teach you a lot about the highs and lows of life. It can teach you that failure is a part of being human, and that the key to failing is learning and growing from the failure. It shows the value in hard work, how fulfilling it is when you overcome adversity and achieve your goals. Being a fan can bring us together and strengthen a bond for a lifetime and beyond; my Grandpas were Redskins fans, my Dad is a Redskins fan and hopefully you will be too.
And in particular, hopefully you will be a Memphis Grizzlies fan. Why, do you ask? Well, Memphis is a big part of your Mom and I's relationship. We were already in love when we went to Memphis, but it strengthened us, and made me in particular a better man and person. I learned so much about life in just three years there, and my strongest tie to the city outside of good friends is the Memphis Grizzlies. And over the years they have taught me one of my greatest life lessons, one that I look forward to passing on to you.
Winning used to be all that I cared about. Literally the only thing. I lived and died with my own wins and losses, as well as those of the teams that I cheered for. If I, or they, didn't win a title, "the big game", it was a failure that needed to be learned from and fixed as soon as possible. If the players lost, go get new ones. Win, or else.
Then, I met your Mom and sports suddenly weren't my life, she was (shocking, I know). Then, I went to Memphis and met the Grizzlies. Don't get me wrong, they win a good bit (and they play a song about it after they win at home in the FedExForum, you're going to love it. Also, I'll sneak you a BBQ nacho when your Mom isn't looking.) But they'd lose in the playoffs on the way to a title, and I'd get mad. And want guys to go away so new, better guys could come in and win "the big one." But as I got older, and married your Mom and started to get ready for you, and talked to some pretty smart people I realized something...
I was missing the whole point way too often! All the yelling and happiness of wins and anger and over-analysis of losses as a player, coach and fan made me blind to the truly beautiful thing about sports, and life; the journey with the people you are with! The ends don't always justify the means. Only one team a year can win "the big one", and if that is the only way to be happy you will miss out on a lot of the good times between that game and the start. In Memphis it is the Marc Gasol butt-slaps and Tony Allen outbursts, the Mike Conley salutes and Zach Randolph push-ups and Growl Towels flying in the air. You'll get to know those things soon enough, but the point is that one of sports' greatest lessons is the one I didn't get until Memphis- winning is great, but loving the journey and being better for having gone through it all with people you care about truly is greater.
The miracles and day-to-day grind, the times both good and bad, are what make life worth living, not just winning. Time with great people like your Mom, Grandma and Grandpa have taught me that off the field and court, but in sports I learned that largely from the Grizzlies. I appreciate all of them and love them for it, and I hope that I do a good job showing that, and many other things, to you in the coming years.
We're excited to see you very soon! Remember, life can be hard, but the people and things you love make it all worth it and then some.