The other day, I walked into the kitchen to a most unpleasant surprise: you, on top of the bar in our kitchen, just sitting there and playing with my phone, which I had left up there so it would be out of your reach.
How did you get up there, you ask? Well, Braxton, you have followed in my footsteps of being a climbing toddler. Your Grammy and Tata tell me that when I was just a few months older that you, I would climb on top of their tower speakers, leap off, and yell “gemomino!”
You don’t have much to exclaim these days other than “Mama”, “Dada”, and “that”, but that doesn’t stop you from climbing anything that you can get a foothold on. Chairs, tables, counters, and more are just new things for you to summit. And every time you’re on your way up, your mom and I are always worried that you’re going to fall.
This is where the cliché comes in, where the parent says “I will always be there to catch you”. But, Braxton, the reason I’m writing you today is to tell you this:
I will not always be there to catch you.
It’s heartbreaking to admit, but there inevitably will be times that you will fall and nothing but the ground beneath you will stop your descent. There may even be times when I see you with unsteady footing, give you a warning, but then just sit and watch and let events transpire.
This will carry on into your teenage and adult years. You may climb the ladder of popularity, of education, of success, or wherever else, but in climbing to these heights, you may also fall. I will often be someone to fall on, but there may be other times when I only give you a warning, and then allow you to face the consequences of your decisions.
Here’s the sad truth, my son: I can’t always be there for you. Some days I may be working, others I may be out of town, and others still I may just have to let you learn your own lesson. But on any of those days, you’ll likely have nothing to fall on but yourself and your faith.
I want to make sure that you know that I’m doing this because I love you. It will break my heart watching you fall, every single time. Tears will likely spill as I see your descent, but I will be doing it for a very important reason:
To help you learn to pick yourself up.
Braxton, it’s good to have people to help keep you up, it’s good to have people to catch you, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with friends and family to support you, but there will inevitably come times in your life when you will have one hand holding tight and a plummet beneath you and no one will be there to catch you. In those lonely, painful, inevitable times, you will have to rely on yourself to get back up and start climbing again.
I love you son, and it will break my heart whenever you hit the ground and I am not there to catch you. I will try to be there as often as I can, or as often as you should have support, but in those rare times when you fall alone, know that, even now, I know you’ll be a strong enough young man to pick yourself back up and get climbing again.
But, for all those other times, I will be there for you, son, to catch you, to help you up, to support you, and to love you.
1 Corinthians 1:4
Christian, husband, father, and pastor. Also a proud and dedicated nerd. One of the dads at TheDadLetters.com and author of TheLivesIHaveLived.wordpress.com.