I was equal parts excited and nervous to learn we were having a baby boy. Now that he’s here, I feel an overwhelming sense of love for him and I delight in kissing his chubby cheeks every day. Right now, our days are filled with play time, nap time, meal time and the occasional tantrum, which keeps life hectic and beautiful all at the same time. Between cleaning food from the floor and worrying about sleep training, my experience with motherhood so far has been limited to doing my best to keep my son well-fed and well-rested in order to keep fussing to a minimum.

But, I know it won’t always be this way. After all, boys turn into men and I want to do my best to raise a thoughtful, conscientious, hard-working gentleman.

To be fair, had we had a girl, I know I would be mindful about doing my best to teach her to be a strong, confident woman, but one who knows it’s still OK to be vulnerable. But, perhaps since the male psyche is so foreign to me, raising a son seems like a bit more of a challenge.

So, my son, here are my hopes for you.

I hope you have a carefree childhood, filled with love, laughter and learning. Every child deserves that.

Your dad and I will give you opportunities to flourish in the hobbies and activities you find exciting and fulfilling, be it soccer or art, hockey, music or ballet. In turn, I hope you appreciate the privileged start you have as a little boy with these opportunities. I hope as you grow up, you know it’s important to work hard to earn your successes.

I hope you are well-mannered, polite and respectful to family, friends and strangers alike, but that you also aren’t afraid to speak your mind when the situation warrants.

I hope you grow up to be hard-working like your Daddy. By the same token, I hope you aren’t afraid to show your softer side. I hope you know it’s OK to cry and be vulnerable.

I hope you know that women are equally as capable, witty and smart as you are. Know that you are lucky to have strong women in your life. Don’t ever belittle them or take them for granted. In turn, don’t let them take you for granted, either.

I hope you love with all you have, even after you’ve experienced heartbreak. I promise you, things get better and it’s worth it when you find someone who loves you and is as committed to you as you are to her.

I hope you have fun in life, but know there are consequences. Go to the party. Eat the cake. Take part in life’s celebrations, big or little. But make responsible decisions and accept responsibility for your actions.

I hope when you find “the one” and get married, that you kiss your wife good morning, good night, and tell her you love her every day. That when you come home from a day’s work, you jump right into your role of father and husband, helping with dishes and homework and bedtime routines. That you’re always there for your own children, just like we will be here for you.

I hope you know the value of hard work. But, more importantly, I hope you make time for your family and friends and that you appreciate the little things in life. They are what’s most important, after all.

Most of all, no matter what path you choose, I hope you become a genuinely good human being.

I know this is a tall order, but I hope we can give you these experiences and teach you these qualities by example. Most of all, I hope you know Mommy and Daddy love and support you, no matter what.

You might also like:

When your Little Boys Aren’t Little Anymore, This is What You Can Look Forward To

Why Tired Mothers Stay Up So Late

God Gave Me Sons

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I hope you grow up to be hard-working like your Daddy. By the same token, I hope you aren't afraid to show your softer side. I hope you know it's OK to cry and be vulnerable.

Brittany Van Den Brink

Brittany Van Den Brink is a PhD Candidate and freelance writer living in Ontario, Canada with her husband, baby son, and their Golden Retriever, Chevy. You can read more from Brittany at Motherhood Her Way, which she founded as a platform to collaborate with other moms as they go through the ups and downs of motherhood. Say hi on Instagram @brittanyvandenbrink.