My first letter to my beautiful daughter.

Dear Isabella Rose,

As corny as it may sound, my entire life I’ve dreamed of my first Father’s Day as a father and finally, here it is! I’ve held a lot of titles in my life but being a father is by far the most important to me (tied with being a husband of course).  Father’s day is special to me for a few reasons but for starters, it’s our day to share together.  We live in a such a crazy world today and as your dad, its up to me to teach, guide, protect and lead you through a life that brings you happiness and a pure heart.  In order to do so, there’s a million things I need to teach you so I figured I’d use our first Father’s Day together to start you off with this letter (mom’s gonna have to read it to you since you’re only three months old).  It’s crazy to think that last week you started daycare but one day I’ll wake up and you’ll be graduating high school. Time moves so fast and that’s why it’s never too early to start writing you these letters.  In this letter, I’m going to share with you five of dad’s favorite life lessons so let’s get started…

First, I need you to know that nobody’s perfect.

People make mistakes in life and believe it or not, your dad is at the top of the leader board in the mistake department.  Now, I know you look at me and think “Man, my dad is just perfect”.  But the truth is, I was young and dumb once and I made a lot of bad choices.  As hard as it is to admit, there was a time when the 19 year old version of your dad didn’t treat your mother so well either.  It pains me to admit that to you but I’ve come along way and its important that I’m honest to you about that.  Why?  Because both you and I are going to make a lot of mistakes in our lives.  Some small and some big but all that I ask is that you give me a chance to learn from the mistakes I make as a parent and in turn, I will do the same for you as my daughter.

Your dad has done a lot of really cool things in his life but parenting isn’t one of them.  This is a first for mommy and me and that means we are going to have to learn as we go.  Be patient with us as we learn and we will do our best to do the same for you as you grow.  What’s more important than anything is that you learn from the mistakes you make and continue to pursue a better version of yourself each and every day.

Second, never let anyone stop you from sharing the love that’s in your heart.

There will be people in this world who try to hurt you.  Daddy won’t let them but they will try. What’s important is that you don’t let the evil in the world stop you from sharing the love that’s in your heart.  Always be kind to others and look for ways to make the world a better place.  Always share that beautiful smile with the world around you and love others.

I mentioned that I wasn’t always the best partner for your mom when I was younger but I have worked really hard to change that. The way I love your mother is like straight out of a story book.  She thinks I’m crazy sometimes but I love that woman more than life itself.  My hope is that one day you will see the way your dad loves and treats your mom and that you set that as the standard for what to expect for the way others love and treat you.

Third, do what makes you happy regardless of what anyone else thinks.

You only get one life to live princess so it’s important that you live the life that YOU want to live.  As your parents, your mother and I will always want the best for you but more than anything, we want you to be happy and to live a life that makes you happy.  Love who you want to love.  Do what you love to do and live a life that makes you smile.  All I ask is that you find a way to make a difference in the lives of others and that you live your life with that beautiful smile on your face.

I’m not going to sugar coat life for you.  I want to protect you but that also means I will have to teach you how to protect yourself and that requires you to understand the harsh truths about the world we live in.  One of those truths is that people are going to try to talk you out of doing what makes you happy.  We live in a society where people take out their own unhappiness by trying to stop others from being happy.  Don’t ever let anyone steal your happiness.  There will be people who criticize you or try to convince you to be more like them but don’t listen.  God made you unique for a reason and I don’t want you to be like anybody but yourself.

Daddy was the only of 9 grandchildren to join the military when everyone else went to college and that was hard but it’s what made me happy.  In fact, that path is what helped me turn my life around so I could have another chance with your mom.  So in turn, had I not followed my heart and lived the life that made me happy, you wouldn’t be here.  It’s hard to take a different path from those you love but that’s how we find happiness and purpose in this world.  By following our hearts.  Follow your heart princess, I promise that dad will always be in your corner cheering you on.

Fourth, try hard and never give up.

Not only has your father made a crap-load of mistakes in his life but I’ve failed at quite a bit as well.  That’s one of the hardest parts of life.  Sometime you will do everything in your power to succeed and you will still fall short but that’s ok.  Just don’t give up.  As your dad, I don’t care how many times you fail as long as you never give up and you always give it your all. 

I’ll always be here to pick you up and dust you off when you fall. What matters is that you pour your heart and soul into everything you do and never give up.  Don’t be discouraged by failure but rather embrace it as another opportunity to learn and grow.  What’s important is that you don’t make the same mistakes I did when I was young and fail to showcase the talents and strengths that God has given you.  Apply yourself whole-heartedly in everything that you do and always know that dad will be your biggest cheerleader.

Finally (and this may be the most important), nobody gets through life alone.  

Life is hard but if you have the right people around you then it becomes so much easier.  Surround yourself with people who lift you up and challenge you to become better.  Fill your life with people who want to see you succeed and those that are there to support you. You are going to make a lot of friends over your lifetime but your grandfather is notorious for saying, “You can count your true friends on one hand”.

Those true friends are the ones who will support and encourage you to do what is right and what makes you happy.  They will love you for being you and they’ll be there for you through the good and bad that life brings your way.

Dad has that handful of close friends that he can’t wait for you to meet one day.  However, there are also three of your dad’s closet friends from his Army days that you will never meet in person because God called them home too soon.  Now, every time you see that tattoo of those three stars and that bible verse on my arm, you’ll know what it means.  As painful as it was for me to lose those friends, I owe them the world because without them, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. They helped me through some of the toughest parts of my life and they helped me rebuild my life so that one day, I could be the type of man that you would be proud to call your father.

My hope for you is that you appreciate how important it is to surround yourself with the right people in life and that you make close friends that you can rely on to help you.  Life truly is the ultimate team sport and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.

Above all else, I hope you know that I will always love you unconditionally.  Wherever this world takes us, just know that your mother and I will be here for you through it all.  We love you more than life itself and we are so blessed that God brought you into our lives.

Happy Father’s Day Bella Bear,

– Dad

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