You may have noticed there hasn’t been a new story in a little while. That’s because my precious daughter was born a couple weeks ago. Before that, I’d been busy working on a couple other stories, but I wasn’t able to get them finished prior to the baby being born. There was a point late in my wife’s pregnancy where I noticed a shift in my desire to write toward a desire to get more sleep.
If you’ve followed The Muggo for awhile, you may be familiar with my son’s birth story – the first story I ever posted on this site. His story was a wild one, full of emotion and chaos. So when my daughter was born, my wife asked me when I was going to write a story about her birth.
My initial reaction was, yeah, I guess I’ll need to do that at some point. But over the next 24 hours my mind slowly had a chance to consider the idea. More specifically, I reflected on how very different the experiences were. Like I said, Hendrik’s birthday was one of the craziest days of our lives. On the other hand, Julia’s birthday was textbook perfect (well, not perfect, but you get the idea). As I compared those two days, for the first time ever I thought about how Hendrik would react to reading his birth story later in his life.
That thought weighed heavily on me, but only for a moment. At first I worried it would affect him negatively. However, I remember being really interested as a kid to know what happened the day I was born. From what I’m told, I had a pretty scary birth experience, as well. Hearing my mom tell the story was actually one of my favorite things, though, because I knew the ending. For whatever reason, I almost felt proud of that story. Like it gave me bragging rights for some inexplicable reason.
So I hope Hendrik reads his story the same way. I hope he sees how strong he was and how much his momma did for him to keep him safe. I hope he’s proud of how hard he worked at physical therapy and how none of his injuries had any long-term effects. Two and a half years later, it’s incredible to look at him – strong, handsome, caring, and curious – and realize his life could have been completely different if things hadn’t gone the way they had.
But then another thought entered my mind. When Julia grows up and reads her brother’s birth story, how will that make her feel? This led to another string of questions which eventually led me to this thought:
How is what I say today going to affect my kids in 15 years?
Growing up, I came from a home of “slow adopters” – a term used to describe folks who take their time in regards to adopting new technology. For instance, I don’t think we had a television in our house until I was seven or eight years old. Another example, I remember when my dad bought our first home stereo system – WITH A CD PLAYER!!! – and then rocked out to Bonnie Raitt at 11PM while the rest of us tried to sleep. I was maybe 10 years old. Finally, we got our first computer when I was in 7th grade. That was 1999.
Juxtapose that with my college years, when the iPhone had just hit the market and social media still hadn’t taken off. I signed up for a Facebook account in the summer of 2005, when you still had to have an email account ending in .edu. My Twitter account was born in October 2008 – I was one of the first four million users of a social media platform that now boasts 330 million active users worldwide. My college years occurred at the same time that social media birthed a new way of interacting with the world.
What am I getting at? My point is that when I was a kid, the only way I would ever know what my parents’ experience was like was if they wrote it down on paper or told me face to face. In 2018 – and even more unimaginably in 2032 – it’s completely different. Bits and pieces of my life experience can be found all over the internet. In certain ways, that worries me.
It worries me because I know how easy it is to flippantly throw something up on social media without thinking about it. If I make a negative remark about one of my kids – one which they are more than likely to find someday – what sort of message will that send them when they’re older?
I don’t think it has to be a big, ugly remark either. For instance, a few months ago I remember seeing a post on a friend’s social media feed where they were complaining about their child’s teacher at school. Within the post though, they made just the slightest dig at their own kid’s intelligence. Now, if that kid read what their parent wrote today, the remark would probably go right over the kid’s head. But what if that kid finds the post in 10 years, when they’re older and smarter and able to decipher the subtle dig? How is that kid going to feel about their parent? What sort of message did that parent inadvertently send to their child? And think of how many years of building up that kid’s confidence in the classroom could be ruined by one tiny remark that spanned less than 140 characters on the internet?
Okay, sure, this sounds mighty fatalistic. Maybe kids won’t care what their parents said or did when they were growing up. It’s possible I’m making something out of nothing. But either way, it was a good reminder to myself that I want to be really careful about what sort of message I’m sending to my kids not only today with the words I say to them, but 15 years from now with the words I put on public forums like Twitter and Facebook.
(Who am I kidding? I’m never on Facebook.)
I don’t want to spend too much time on this ol’ soapbox, but man…just think about it.
Yeah, I will definitely write a post about the birth of my amazing daughter. It was a beautiful experience and I genuinely want to share it. Though now, I will have a filter in mind. I don’t want to draw comparisons between the two unique birth stories. And I don’t want to make one seem better (or worse, or scarier, or more serene or chaotic, or wilder, or quicker, or whatever) than the other. The fact is, they weren’t completely different. There are a lot of similarities, and that’s kind of beautiful. Either way, both experiences were absolutely miraculous.
To close this out, I have one last thought. I want my kids to see the types of things I say about them when they’re older. In 2018, we have an opportunity that our parents never had. We get a chance to speak great things about our kids that they’ll (most likely) dig up some day. It’s a digital time capsule. How cool will it be for my 18 year-old son to stumble upon my Twitter feed someday and read something encouraging about himself that I wrote a decade and a half before?
H & J, if/when you’re reading this, just know that I love you more than you could ever imagine. You are my miracles and that will never change. Also, sorry for all the corny jokes. Love, Dad ♦