Dear Atticus, on having a place


Dear Atticus,

That’s a picture of the shelf we hung on your wall. I wanted to tell you a little bit about it, since we have been trying to fill your room with things that are important to us and have meaning.

The pictures in the shelf are pictures that I took (or manipulated) that represent your initials. The A is from the swingset next door, and you can see our neighbor swinging. He’s pretty excited to meet you. The R is a picture I found of a water fountain that I flipped and cropped until it looked like an R. And the O is a manhole cover in our neighborhood. It would have been easier to just buy letters, but all the letters you can buy are in portrait shape, and I needed landscape for that frame. I enjoyed the challenge, actually. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I have been trying to make an effort to try those sorts of things rather than quickly admitting defeat, because I want to teach you how to be brave, too.

On the top, you will see that the first item is a Carolina hat. We inherited it from a family at church whose little boy is almost a year older than you will be. They are big Carolina fans, and we were thrilled to open their boxes of hand-me-downs and find that there were some UNC items for you to wear. I don’t plan on dressing you in clothes covered with sporting equipment or sports teams, but when it comes to the tiny UNC hat (and the socks and the shoes), I may not be able to help myself. We are going to raise you to be a good UNC basketball fan, just as my mother raised me to be. I will teach you about Dean Smith and Roy Williams and the Carolina Way. Your dad and I will tell you about Michael Jordan and national championships and how very important it is to despise Duke. Even though you are named partly after my dad, please know that you should not take that opportunity to be a Duke fan. We will tell you about my dad, too, how he loved Duke and never gave up hoping that we would cheer for them sometimes, how much I miss hearing him tease me before the Carolina/Duke games.

More than that, though, we are going to raise you to love this great state where I was born, your dad’s adopted home. We are going to take you to the beach and show you the mountains, feed you barbecue and take you to the State Fair. We will eat fresh tomatoes and visit the Biltmore and get ideas from Our State magazine about things we can do as a family. And, yes, we will take you to the Dean Dome and point out the jerseys and tell you the history. I love this state, Atticus, and I want to share that love with you just like I shared it with your dad, just like it was shared with me. But we can start with the hat for now.

Next to the hat is a jar of stars made by a friend of mine named Melanie. It’s a little thing, but I love it a lot, the stars and the vintage jar and the fact that it was made by hand. And next to that is a picture that my cousin drew of the two of us back in 1981. I said a little bit about it a couple of years ago, but we have put it in your room as a reminder of the importance of family, even family that is far away like your cousin Henry. Henry will be three years older than you, just like his dad was three years older than me. I hope you will also get some time with your cousins in South Carolina, who are older than you but who are very excited about your arrival. Even though you won’t be able to play with your cousin Henry like I played with his dad, we hope that you somehow know the happiness of playing with your cousins.

(The last thing on the shelf is a video monitor, and I don’t have a whole lot to say about it except that we didn’t register for one but your great-aunt got us one anyway. And it is awesome.)

Hanging on those hooks are several little bathrobes and hooded towels. Your dad is really into those things, so all I can say about that is that I am sorry for the insane amount of pictures I expect that there will be of you wearing those robes. Even though it won’t be my fault, I am going to consider it part of my revenge for the way that you made me feel over the summer, and I’ll be sure to pull some of those pictures out when you go on dates in the future. Don’t argue with me about this or I will also tell the story of how you made me throw up in Starbucks in Canada. I will do it.

A lot of the things in your room have been chosen to give you a sense of place and family. That wasn’t necessarily intentional in the sense that we sat down and thought, “We must give Atticus a sense of his place in the world!” But we like to be intentional about what goes in our house, and that has extended to your room. I have seen really cute baby rooms in magazines, but, for me, a room is empty unless it is filled with meaningful items, because that is a tangible way to show love and care. We don’t have the fanciest house in the world, but we hope that it’s warm and feels like a home to you. I am glad we have had all this time to get ready for you, because even though I have had a hard time feeling personally ready, it has helped a lot to take the time to make a place for you.


[Jars of stars can be purchased from my friend Melanie’s Etsy shop!]


For those of you playing along at home, here is an updated view of the crib (still no sheets) with the shelf added. Here’s what it looked like before.

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