Leslie Long, a friend of mine from high school, is an Associate Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi (www.leslielongwriter.com). She is also a photographer and travel writer (www.leslielongportfolio.com). In 1988, while working at Young & Rubicam in New York City, Leslie wrote this letter to her then unborn son, Ian.
We’ve been together seven months now and I read in the books that if you were born today, you’d almost definitely be okay. I guess that makes you a real baby now instead of a developing one. So even though you won’t read this until much later on, your status as a total baby makes today the day I’m writing it to you.
How are things so far? You’ve been a model fetus, causing me little discomfort as pregnancies go. You’ve kept growing, started to move right on schedule and once you started, you just kept on moving. Every day I wonder what you’re doing in there — you seem like a very determined and active little thing.
At less than four months, we saw you trying to suck your thumb during a sonogram. You put your little hand up in an arc and aimed it right where it had to go. The doctors and technicians were cheering you on, saying “Do it for Mom and Dad!” Right when you hand was almost at your mouth, it slipped behind your head. You missed and it was really cute how hard you seemed to try. I’m sure by now you’re a pro at it.
For a long time, I’ve thought your name will be Ian or Dahlia. I keep looking for something I like better, but come back to those two names most times. Should Ian become your name, you may wonder what we liked about it. I’ll tell you.
Ian is Scottish and it’s also popular in England — the only country where Dad and I have common ancestry. I love England for its tradition, modernity, courteousness and resistance to yield to the modern world. Ian is a simple name, it’s one you don’t hear too often and I’ve always just liked it.
Your Dad and I looked at newborn babies in the hospital nursery. It was really touching to imagine you as one of those little things all wrapped up and on view for the public. Most of these babies had full heads of dark hair. You’ll probably be blond, but we’ll see!
I just hope and wish for everything good for you and that we have an interesting, special and fun relationship through life. You already mean a lot to us and even though we’ve never seen you, we love you very much. You are eagerly awaited. (And by the way, your first pet will be a soft, sweet, sometimes crabby cat named Weasel. She’s waiting, too.)
Bye for now,
Ian arrived two weeks early — with blue eyes and hair so blond, it was white. As a pre-schooler, he was always trying to figure out the workings of the world, which truly fascinated me. That propensity led me to write down many of his questions, thoughts and observations. Every time I come across that document, it charms and amazes me.
It would take another piece this long to describe all the reasons I love being Ian’s mother. (And yet another to describe the same sentiments for my younger son, Erik.) The 22-year-old Ian is athletic, wise, funny, determined, smart, responsible, successful. He graduated college in 2010 and is now living and working in Baltimore. Maybe it’s time to not only show him this letter (had it in a file somewhere and just never did), but to write him another one.