My book wouldn’t be complete without a dedication—to my newborn daughter.
This is the final installment of my book We Are All Musicians Now. Below, you’ll find my last post before paternity leave: an open letter to my beloved kiddo, Riley Mira Greenburg—in some ways, already a musician herself.
You arrived at 3:06pm on May 20th, in the style of Julius Caesar, and immediately contributed your vocal stylings to Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” as it echoed through the operating room. Shortly thereafter, you added Nas and Lauryn Hill to your growing list of musical favorites.
You made your grand entrance right across the street from your dad’s first alma mater, at Mount Sinai, where your mom attended medical school. Weighing in 6 pounds and 3 ounces, you looked like a little purple alien covered in goo, with fingers the size, shape, and consistency of fruit snacks. You debuted 11 days early—a notion that must have come from your mom’s side—sporting quite a head of hair, like your daddy.
Your mom and I named you after the protagonist of the film Inside Out, which we were watching when we first felt you kicking together. Riley means “courage” in Gaelic. Mira translates to “wonder” in Latin and “look” in Spanish; it’s also a celestial body we first learned about while stargazing in your Floridian motherland. Coupled with your Eastern European last name, all your familial bases are covered.
We’ve been home from the hospital for a fortnight, and the doctors say you’re in perfect health. That’s pretty amazing, especially given how concerned they were—and we were—last fall, over what turned out to be a few false alarms.
I should add that you’re looking decidedly less extraterrestrial now; in any case, your mom and I love you more than anything in the world.
I’ve been trying for two weeks to sit down at the keyboard and capture precisely how your arrival made me feel. A lot of heartfelt clichés keep coming to mind. The thing is, your grandparents—and many subsequent editors—always told me good writers don’t use clichés. But I’m going to give myself a pass, because there’s no better way to say it: I fell in love with you at first sight.
Seasoned parents try to tell you this will happen. But Riley, nothing could prepare me for the moment when, just a few seconds after your birth, you wrapped your little fruit-snack fingers around my thumb. It was like a hidden compartment popped open inside me, suddenly overflowing with pure love for you. It’s been that way ever since, and always will be.
I tend to think of myself as an optimistic person, but in the five years or so before you arrived, the world made any such outlook pretty much untenable. A string of calamities cascaded through the broader world and my own, dampening my outlook on just about everything.
And then you arrived, a sort of ice-water bath for the soul. Again, it’s a cliché, but you immediately changed my life.
Although calamities continue to plague our world, I can’t wait to see how you’re going to leave your mark on it, and how your generation will change things for the better.
So, I’m dedicating this book to you, not just out of blind unconditional love—of which there’s plenty, to be sure—but because you made me an optimist again, just by being you.
Thank you, Riley, and I can’t wait to see you write your next verse. I love you.
Thanks all, for reading—I truly appreciate it. And, since many of you have been paying for a biweekly newsletter, I’m pausing all subscription fees ahead of my parental leave. I’ll be back sometime next month. If you’d like to contribute in the meantime, anything you send via Venmo (@zogblog) will go directly into Riley’s 529 College Savings Plan. Enjoy your summer!