Wishing You More Than Success :: A Letter to My Son on His Birthday


I wrote a letter to my son on his birthday.

Dear Son,

How can it already be 12 years since you first entered this world and our lives? In these dozen years, you have filled our lives with adventure, with joy, with compassion, and you have filled our house with blocks — thousands and thousands of blocks!

As hard as it is to say goodbye to the sweet and memorable years of elementary school and the innocence of childhood, I know you are ready and well prepared for the next steps in your journey. 

On this birthday, as you begin a new chapter in middle school, I wish for you many things. Of course, like any parent, I wish for you success in all of your big dreams and great ideas. And, also, I wish for you to use your big ideas and great dreams to make the world better for more than only yourself. Truth told, my son, I wish you more than success. 

A mom wants the most for her son on his 12th birthday.I wish for you things that truly matter in the scope of our lives and the legacy of our dreams. I wish for you courage and integrity, grit, and buoyancy. I wish that your wonderfully tender heart continues to stay attune to the needs of others. I want you to embrace vulnerability; practice generosity; own your mistakes. Try to see what you may deem as failures as opportunities for growth.

Son, our culture has strange ideas for how we idealize masculinity, and I wish for you that you see beyond it to the wide horizon of what it means to be fully alive. Be humble. Respect women. Tell the truth. Apologize. Forgive.

You should know that you were born into the world with privilege you did not choose and which you may not fully understand, but you can use it for good, for kindness, for justice. Make space at all the tables at which you will sit. 

I love your appetite for knowledge, and I hope you to continue to nurture that strong sense of curiosity. Keep asking the questions, and also don’t be satisfied for the trite answers. Go deeper than knowledge for the sake of information. Cultivate wisdom and a never-ending joy of learning.

Keep digging in your deep interest in history. And also, like you already do, learn all the histories from voices that have been long silenced. Embrace the complexity of multiple perspectives and the ways in which they thicken our human story.

The years have flown by for a local mom, reflecting on her son's birthday. As your mother, I wish I could shield you from struggle and suffering, and I also know that is where we learn. Please, please keep praying those heartfelt prayers; keep generating those (unique) ideas; keep writing those creative scripts; keep flexing your muscles of empathy and allowing the dogs to lick you every day. Trust that God who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. 

As you know I love to say: No one can steal your joy, and don’t let anyone dull your shine. Let your uniqueness shine through. Measure your life not on worldly metrics of success but on a life of genuine joy and excessive kindness. 

Wishing you a wonderful birthday!



Read Robyn’s letter to her daughter, “Wishing You More Than Happiness :: A Letter to My Daughter on Her Birthday.”


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