Dear Zoe,

Happy first birthday! This first trip around the sun with you has been an adventure. It's crazy and amazing how much progress you've made in only one year from a sleepy little newborn to an active, energetic little kid with opinions and feelings. One of my goals this year has been to spend time developing a parenting philosophy on what kind of parent I'd like to be. As you start asking questions, the intention behind this to be more purposeful in the decisions I make and things I say along the way. A helpful start for this has been reflecting on the values I want to impart to you as you grow up. You can think of these as mom's birthday wishes for you.

Live it up, Zoe!


If there's any value here that I feel passionately about, it's this one. I sincerely wish for you the autonomy and self-confidence to be able to make your own choices in how you live your life. Your dad and I often talk about how the profession you ultimately choose is unlikely to be one that we understand well or perhaps even exists today. And I can well imagine that you'll find that we are full of opinions because that's kind of the type of people we are. While the weight of expectations and external opinions are heavy, nurturing your individuality and self-awareness so you have the freedom to make an active choice is an important value for me. The best we can wish for is to give you the resources, sounding board, and support to accomplish this.


In your life, you will inevitably face setbacks. Failure and rejection are bitter pills to swallow. As much as I wish I could protect you from these experiences, it's important to learn the skill of moving forward when faced with a reality that you aren't getting what you want. Building resilience is not only about having the ability to accept a setback and find a new equilibrium (like your dad's post about his new reality), but it's also about having the right mindset about it. Trying and failing are integral steps to learning, and I want to help you build the resourcefulness to pivot from these experiences to new opportunities without the negativity that often accompanies it.


My own childhood was raised on a culture of achievement. While I credit this core family value in my upbringing as a big driver for my achievements in life later on, it has its flaws. The downside of achievement is that it tends to focus on the very observable things like grades, status, and wealth. My decision to choose growth as a value is that it's more open-ended. It encompasses my desire to see you grow as a person, from your wisdom in relating with others to delving deep into learning a passion area to marking achievements in your career. As a parent, I want to nurture your curiosity and encourage you to go deep and keep learning.


As you grow up,  you will often see your dad and I making  decisions about how we relate to and engage with our community, our friends, and our family members.  The skills of empathy and compassion aren't explicitly taught but are so valuable because it's a way to build a connection to others. Especially in the current environment where there's so much political discord, learning to thread the needle with grace and relate with each other as humans feels like an even more significant set of skills. I'm imperfect and often not great at these skills, but wish fiercely to be better at this all the time.


I actually knew very little about health and fitness growing up, and can't wait to share my love of the outdoors with you. Your dad and I already take you on daily walks and weekly hikes, and are looking forward for you to be walking so we can start exploring more areas on foot. Imparting our love of the outdoors and building healthy habits are a gift that we often talk about wanting to give you.

As you grow up, I hope you'll see us model and talk about a lot of these values all the time. (And most likely screwing up a little along the way and building our resilience as we recover.) On one hand, I'm imagining the wonderful adult that you will someday become and on the other, you're currently a sweet little baby. Giving you the space to build these values of growth, freedom, and resilience is going to be a whole tricky set of transitions as you grow older and we ease the guard rails away. What an adventure lies ahead!

Wishing you many more wonderful years ahead. Love,