Letters to my Son - Tough Mudder 2012

Today is the Tough Mudder event that I've been planning to complete for over a year. A big part of why I wanted to do this is to prove to myself that, even with a heart condition, I can still live my life and love being active.

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After this, I won't be making any more unknown risks to be sure that I can be around while you are growing up.

If anything funny happens and I just don't make it out of this day, I just want you to know that I love you and that you can do anything that you want in this world.

This is a calculated risk and I believe truly that I will have you in my arms when I get home tonight.

I love you.


Well, I made it. I finished the Tough Mudder with my team of 7 guys, including your Uncles Bone and Gus. It was indeed tough. I expected that the most difficult part would be the obstacles, but it was really the distance that was much tougher. We covered 17km and 19 obstacles. I think if the terrain was flat it would have been pretty easy, but we were running up and down a ski hill all day long. I wore a heart rate monitor to keep my heart rate in check. The doctor gave me a limit of 130-140 bpm. That pretty much limits me to walking briskly, never mind climbing up and down ski hills.

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Since I took the stress test and had no strange rhythms up to 169 bpm, I gave myself a hard ceiling of 160bpm for the duration of the event. This was enough that I was able to walk up the hills and get a full run on during the gradual downslopes. Out of the group of us, I would fall behind on every uphill and then run to the front on each of the downhills. I skipped one of the two electricity obstacles, the Electric Eel, because I figured that I was cutting my risks from electric shock in half. There was no way that I wouldn't be running through the final obstacle: Electro-Shock Therapy.

Overall, it was a really stupid thing to do given the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but I set my mind to it and wanted to accomplish it to prove that my athletic life wasn't over.

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Leading up to the Mudder, I was able to lose a couple of pounds by eating better, build up some cardio by doing a lot of walking with you at the park, and I was able to get quite a bit stronger by doing more pushups each day than the prior day.

I am glad that I was able to finish the Mudder. I'm proud of myself and it definitely helped to get the need to do something athletic out of my system. The last year has been tough on me because I really loved being active and I really miss it. I really miss playing basketball, which I used to do a few times per week as an adult.

Back in high school, basketball was my life. I would get up early every morning, eat a quick breakfast, then head to school for 7:00am. The janitor would show up to let us into the school and unlock the gym. We always came prepared with a change of clothes and a basketball so that we didn't need to rely on getting access to any of the school facilities. We would play for 2 solid hours in the morning and then play at lunch for 45 minutes. Gym was every afternoon and sometimes we would even play during class. After school, I would play ball from 3:10pm to 4:00pm, then head to track practice from 4:00pm to 6:00pm every weeknight. Dinner was always ready when I got home from practice and, after doing the dishes, your Uncle Damian and I would play ball in the driveway until the sun would go down. Man, I miss those days.

Now, the doctor recommends nothing more strenuous than a brisk walk. It depresses me to no end. 

Letters to my Son - Sexual Preferences

Today, you are a sweet little boy with no idea that there are even different sexes to consider. I want you to know that I don't care which way you end up going. There's a long standing debate about whether being gay or straight is genetic or a product of your environment. We aren't here to figure out how or why, but I do want you to know that either way: gay, or straight, or transsexual, or anything else that comes up between now and when you read this, I love you and I accept you for whatever you are in this life. Please don't feel pressure to be anything that you think is expected or pre-determined.

As a little boy, you had an ongoing fascination with all things feminine. Whether it was pretending to be a princess or a fairy, or simply dressing up in one of your mom's dresses or sweaters and applying makeup, you were really excited to be a part of feminine things.

I am sure that is just a normal part of growing up and exploring what sexuality means. You will figure out how all this stuff works for you and I will be there with you whether you want me to play the role of Batman or Princess Anna from Frozen. 

The point of this short note is that I don't care what you turn out to prefer sexually.  I will support you and I will be the proudest dad in the world to meet your chosen life mate or lifestyle head-on, right by your side.  Whether that means standing by you at your wedding, playing wingman with boys or girls, or putting on assless chaps so that you can explore an alternate lifestyle, I will be your huckleberry and I will stand next to you as your proud father.

 

Letters to my Son - “One-and-Done”, The Only Child

When your mom and I started dating we talked about everything that was important as part of the process of getting to know each other. One of the little things that we agreed upon even before we got serious about each other was that we wanted to be able to live our lives in the city and that we wanted to be able to always maintain a certain lifestyle.

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Part of that discussion was an agreement that we were each only prepared to have one child. That would mean that we would be able to comfortably bear the costs of raising a child while providing all of our life necessities without having to sacrifice too much of our lifestyle.

Things like having university paid for by your parents would give you a leg up on the other kids who wouldn't have that same opportunity. I, for one, couldn't afford to go to school the same way that some of my friends did. My parents gave me what they could, but it was more in the form of support, food, and advice rather than the actual cash that is needed to pay for tuition and accommodations.

I had the stress of applying for government assistance to pay for school and then the ongoing stress of paying those loans back for years after I was done with school. I never finished my degree, partly because of the overwhelming feeling that I would never be able to finish paying for school. I don't want you to have that feeling. I want to be able to afford to pay for your education and give you all the things that I could never have.

Your mom and I also agreed that “one-and-done", as we would go on articulating the philosophy, would give us the opportunity to be the awesome parents that we know we can be, but also allow us to get back to having lives as individuals sooner since there wouldn't be other siblings trailing behind you.

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of course, I had some concerns about having only one child. I was the oldest of five kids and your mom was the youngest of three kids. Neither of us had any experience with what the life of an only child would be like. We both wanted to give you the best parts of our own childhoods, but quickly we realized that you wouldn't be growing up like either of us. Rather, you would have your own journey through life. Instead of trying to shoehorn our experiences into your life, we decided to just go with the flow and do whatever made the most sense for our family.

Sometimes I worry about whether you will be happy without any siblings. Having your uncle Damian around to play with always kept me out of trouble and, in fact, shaped my sense of responsibility because he always seemed to be on the verge of getting into trouble himself.

We had you around the same time that a lot of other friends had kids so I imagine that you will always have a family friend to play with growing up.

Also, I intend to spend as much time with you as possible for as long as you will let me so I hope that's healthy.