A Letter to my Youngest Son on His Third Birthday

October 7, 2014cole baby

Dear Cole:

It is hard to believe that three years ago today you made your grand appearance into this world and into our lives. Although you are the youngest, your presence is mighty. You are loved and adored by me, your Dad, your older sisters and brother and extended family and friends.

Right now you probably don’t spend a lot of time questioning your life; you are too busy chasing our kittens, throwing balls or otherwise smile coleplaying around. I don’t think you ever question our unconditional love for you or some of the choices we have made that could really impact your life. This is where I am going to confess to you that your Mom and Dad are bleeding-heart liberals and we are constantly making decisions for our family based on ensuring that you all can have the best opportunity of what we deem a great quality of life. Some of the things that you might not notice now, but will influence you  and you may even spend a little time resenting to ultimately (and hopefully) eventually appreciating later in life are as follows:cole pic

  1. We live in a small town. Everybody seems to know everyone else and if they don’t they will be able to quickly figure out someone else that they know who does know the other person. This can be tough; especially when you are a teenager. It also means that you won’t get away with much because there are no secrets in a small town.  However, we adhere to the ‘it takes a village’ philosophy and we want to know that  you are being a respectful young man when you are out in later years without us and for some reason if you are NOT being a respectful young man – we want to know and be able to address it. On the flipside, we don’t want to hear you engaging in hurtful gossip about other members of your community or not believing that people can change or maybe even more accurately even really good people might make some bad choices and we don’t want to forever hold them to their worst points in life.
  2. Photo Courtesy of Corrine Rober at Bear Rock Adventures

    Photo Courtesy of Corrine Rober at Bear Rock Adventures

    We live in a gorgeous area with lots of outdoor opportunities. People travel from all over to “play” here right where we get to live. You might eventually start rolling your eyes when we point out for the millionth time the view of Mount Washington from our yard, or a flock of wild turkeys or a moose or a sunset or the fall foliage, but when we are surrounded by all of this it is very easy to take it for granted. We appreciate it and take time to be grateful for our surroundings and are just trying to instill the same in you. Plus you have been canoeing, blueberry picking, hiking, ATVing, apple picking, swimming at the base of waterfalls and in the ocean, ice skating on ponds and you are only three . . .so there is plenty more in store for you!

  3. We also love urban areas too and exploring new places. When you grow up living in the North Country you get used to driving.  On any given day we might be travelling a couple of hours for your older sisters’ sporting events and we will continue to do that for you and your brother. We will use this time to get to know other communities and see what they have to offer. We make day trips to Manchester, Portsmouth, Nashua and Keene to name a few . . but also to Boston, Portland, Montreal and Burlington. How cool is that? We also start including you at an early age at looking at landmarks and signs and public means of transportation so that when you grow up, you will feel very comfortable getting to wherever you want to go even if you haven’t been there before. I’ll share with you my stories of being 16 and being lost in Berlin, Germany by myself and having to figure things out. Your Dad will give you his wise words of, “If you panic, you drown” but also give you the skills to be able to problem solve, maintain your composure and think on your feet when you are in difficult situations.

    Photo Courtesy of Matt Buteau

    Photo Courtesy of Matt Buteau

  4. We want you to be grateful! I think where we live really helps us to practice gratitude. With the changing seasons, life is constantly changing here. After the Winter when we get our first mild day where the sun is shining it is easy to be happy about this and enjoy the day to its fullest. Then when we get acclimated to the spring weather and temperatures we suddenly get out first beach-weather day and then we are packing up for the day and going swimming for the first time of the year and so on and so forth. Gratitude is a skill or like a muscle and has to be worked on and used. In this area, Mother Nature gives everyone ample opportunity to practice being grateful and people are so much more content when they live a grateful life.
  5. We love you Cole!

    We love you Cole!

    The most important thing for us is for you to be kind! Naturally, we will nurture your skills whether they be in school, sports or other interests and give you lots of opportunities to participate in activities that you enjoy. I know a lot of well-intended parents say that they just want their kids to be happy . . .but I think unfortunately that somehow got lost in translation and I see this overwhelming sense of entitlement and narcissism in our society. If you are making parenting decisions solely based on what makes your child happy – I think then you can make some unintended grave mistakes. If your child is not happy about practicing for soccer even though they wanted to participate and committed to the team, then quit or maybe your child isn’t happy being partnered with the student they were assigned to do the group project with, then call the school and advocate that they need to be on the team with their friend or if they get the supporting role in the play when they wanted to be the star, let them know how unfair it was that they weren’t chosen. Now this is tough to do and as a protective Mama Bear I would love to hover over you and your siblings and fight all your battles and keep you from any and all harm. I’d also love to wrap you in bubble wrap, but I know that’s not how you will grow up into the amazing older versions of your current selves that you all are now nor would it give you the skills to do that. You need to know that we will always be there for you but sometimes in life things are not as you want them to be and will equip you with comfort, support and build up your skills so that you continue to be kind and that then happy will coincide with that.

  6. You can have it all and do anything so set your goals and expectations high. How exciting for you! The world is full of possibilities and incredible advances are being made every day. (There are also some tragic events that continue to unfold and it is your responsibility to do what you can to make the world a better place . . but I digress.) Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back. You are just as deserving as anyone on the planet to be whatever you want to be. Please don’t misunderstand, once you figure out your passions and set your goals it will take a strong work ethic and hard work but I know you are perfectly capable of that. Also remember to make your decisions based on your values and goals – this isn’t about keeping up with anyone or achieving what others think you should become. Stay true to yourself. You will likely spend a good portion of your week as an adult in your craft or field – so be sure that is something that you love to do and feel good about. My ‘holy grail’ has been achieving that much sought after life-work balance. I make sure I am present to whatever I am attending to you and that certainly includes healthy doses of quality time with my family where I am completely unplugged to the rest of the world and focused on all of you. I also choose to do work that I enjoy doing, makes a positive difference that I can feel good about and lends itself well to my number one priority; you and the rest of the family. We live in an area where all of this is possible and I hope giving you and your brother and sisters the solid foundation needed to be successful in life in however you define that.

Cole, I could go on and on (and you will learn that soon too!) but I just wanted to carve out a little time to tell you how much we love you and a little bit about how we ended up and chose to stay and bring up our amazing family in northern New Hampshire.

All my love,


One Response to “A Letter to my Youngest Son on His Third Birthday”

  1. Stephanie HoganOctober 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Such a beautiful, thoughtful letter!! As I read it, I was reminded of the reasons I too reside here in the beautiful North Country! And as for Cole, it warms my heart to know he is being raised by such a warm, dedicated, and thoughtful woman who I am lucky to call “sister-in-law” in a place I hope to always call home!! Much love!

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