To the honorable McIntyre Joseph “Mac” Sawczuk:
Welcome to the world! Your mom and I are so excited that you’re finally here. We’ve prayed and hoped you’d come for more than a year. Once we knew you were coming, we prepared as best we could: we got your room ready; we asked all our friends who are parents what to buy, how to discipline, even how to change your diaper. That last month before you came seemed to drag on forever. Then one day – your birthday – you decided it was time, and a few hours later, you were here.
But here’s something no one tells you about being a parent: there’s no orientation, no tutorial level, no exhibition game just to get warmed up. Once you got here, you were ours, which was both wonderful and terrifying. Everyone who knows tells you that parenthood is a full-time job, and you take their word for it, but it’s hard to really know what that means until you’re a parent yourself.
So this letter is a few weeks late. We’re still trying to figure all this out on the fly. I’m sure we’ve made some mistakes already, and I’m sure we’ll make plenty more. But one thing I’ve learned so far is that you’re blessed to have a village of people who love you so much already.
Let me tell you a little bit about the world you just entered and the people you get to live with. First, your mom. Your mom and I have known each other for about five years now, and the first thing I noticed was her eyes. (You’re still less than a month old, so we don’t know this for sure yet, but the early consensus is that you got her eyes.) As I got to know her more, I couldn’t help but admire her intelligence, her kindness and her thoughtfulness. She’s often made me reconsider the way I see the world, always for the better. I love watching her interact with you, your cousins, and the kids at her school – there’s not a kid who meets your mom that doesn’t like her. As if that’s not enough, your mom often catches people off guard – myself included – with an amazingly goofy and witty sense of humor. Perhaps most importantly, she’s fiercely loyal and supportive to the people she loves, and although it’s only been a few weeks, I’d say you’re near the top of that list. I consider myself amazingly lucky to be married to her – especially now. You’re equally lucky to have her as a mom.
Your Granny and Grandpa G – as of this writing, we’re still not sure what you’ll call them, so you might call them something different by the time you read this – are pretty great too. I’m not sure what we would have done had your Granny not come to help us get through our first week with you. Like your mom, your Granny is fiercely loyal to the people she loves. While we were certainly thankful that she dropped everything to come help us figure out how to be good parents, we weren’t surprised. Your Grandpa G was here too, on the day you came home from the hospital, and he was enchanted as soon as he met you. The feeling was mutual, I think: you sat in his lap for hours after he arrived. As you get older, I think some of your happiest memories will be of the times you spent with Granny and Grandpa G. Your Granny can make you delicious food and teach you how to grow ingredients and make it on your own. Your Grandpa G will teach you how to change a tire, how to play a guitar, maybe even how to ride on a motorcycle (when you’re 25 or so). And they’ve already shown that they’ll never hesitate to drop everything and help if you need it. They love you so much already.
Your Grandma and Papa will love you just as much. Stays at Grandma and Papa’s house tend to have written agendas, not because they’re controlling or domineering, but because they like to do so many things. They’ll take you on bike rides, hikes and swims. If there’s snow on the ground, you can bet on going sledding and drinking some hot chocolate afterwards. Your Papa is an amazing cook himself. When I was growing up, on the last night before school started, he would write a restaurant menu and let your aunt Katie and I order whatever we wanted from it. (Your Grandma was our waitress.) I had no doubt that whatever I ordered, it’d be delicious, and if Papa ever gets bored in retirement (it hasn’t happened yet), he might just open the Sawczuk Family Restaurant for real. I hope you get your Papa’s patience, his kindness and his ability to whip up a batch of fajitas on short notice. Make sure he teaches you his sidespin ping pong serve too.
From your Grandma, I hope you get her tenacity. She’ll teach you to set goals and refuse to stop until you reach them. Your Grandma never quits (which can be frustrating, just try playing a board game with her). She’ll knit you warm things, sing you songs, read you books and teach you how to be curious about everything. I hit the jackpot to have your Grandma and Papa as parents; I think you’ll love them as much as they already love you.
And finally, a little about me, your dad. I’ve looked forward to being a dad for a long time now, but I don’t have a ton of practice. I hope you’ll be patient with me as I figure it out. I can hardly wait to take you to your first baseball game, watch you eat your first slice of my homemade pizza, run alongside you in your first 5K. I’ve loved you since the day I found out you were on the way, and no matter what happens, I’ll never love you any less.
Apart from your mom and I and your grandparents, there are so many others who have loved you for months already and can’t wait to meet you: your Aunt Becca, Aunt Katie, Uncle Nick, Granny Dot, Aunt Debbie and Ciocia; your cousins Allie, Lincoln, Maverick and Vivi; your friends Alice, Harper, Tillman and Conner, just to name a few. I’ve been practicing my introduction for months. Here’s what I’ll say: “This is my son, McIntyre, but we call him Mac.”
I think Rock Hill, South Carolina is a pretty great place to grow up. Your mom and I love living here because there’s always a lot of stuff to do, a lot of things going on and a lot of interesting people to meet. I think you’ll appreciate being able to play outside almost year round. And when you want a change of scenery, both the beach and the mountains are just a short car ride away. Your mom and I also enjoy just going up to Charlotte a couple times a month to eat at a new restaurant, walk around a park or sample some delicious ice cream.
Here’s some unsolicited advice: try lots of things, but don’t let anyone else – including me – tell you what you like, even if it takes you a while to figure it out on your own. This may not always be obvious, but you’re going to make lots of friends just because people will like you, not the things you do or the clothes you wear or the other friends you have.
With that said, here are some things I recommend trying:
Read lots of books. Watch lots of movies (insist we make popcorn). Learn how to cook a few things and then develop your own secret recipe. Try a sport or two, just to see if you like them (you don’t have to be any good at it to enjoy it! I played basketball for two seasons and never scored a basket). Run a mile as fast as you can, and if you like it, keep it up and go for longer distances. When you’re old enough, learn how to use a computer – not just an iPad or Chromebook – and build a website for yourself. Learn how to play an instrument – your Grandpa G can help you learn the guitar, if you choose!
There are so many other options, but I’ll stop there and let you discover some of them on your own. As long as you work hard in school and treat everyone around you with respect and kindness, we’ll support whatever other endeavors you want to pursue.
One last thing: you should know that your mom and I love you so much, now, always and unconditionally. In other words, we’ll never love you any less than we do right now, no matter what. Your mom and I are lucky that God chose us to be your parents, and we can’t wait to get to know you.
Your mom and dad
P.S. In the future, a little warning when you’re about to pee would be nice. 😅