An Open Letter to Parenting, Growing Up, and Baked Potatoes

Ben Conlin
4 min readApr 19, 2022
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

My Love,

Sleep hasn’t come easy the past few months.

Some nights I sleep, some nights I don’t.

People keep telling me I need to rest, to allow myself to recharge. But when the world is asleep, it’s quiet. It means that I have time to myself, time away from you to work on the things that I need to do. I have time to work on me instead of caring and nurturing you, making sure that everything is just right, optimized for your growth. My dad always said that being a new parent was hard.

So here I am, at 4:23am, and instead of working, instead of sleeping, I’m thinking about you.

Things started late this winter, before I realized how much time and care you would take. Before I knew the toil that would go simply into living, much less growing.

When I was younger, I had the brownest of brown thumbs. I killed plants so fast that my parents banned me from the garden because my mere presence was enough to cause weeks of setback. But I still loved to garden. For my nineteenth birthday, when I moved off to college, my mom gave me a succulent.

She put a pair of googly eyes on the pot and told me not to worry. At least I’d have one friend.

That friend was dead in a matter of weeks.

And yet, there I was in early March, beginning a journey that would test me, heart, mind, and soul. Luckily, you seemed to be thriving on your own, despite my attempts to butcher this whole thing.

At the very least, no one can say I didn’t care. On one of my rare, sleep-filled nights, I awoke to a thunderstorm. The wind was lashing outside the building, and each clap shook us down to the foundation. Panicking, I realized that I had left the window open and rain was pouring in. I frantically threw on my robe, pulled on my slippers, and rushed to check on you.

I had nothing to worry about. Despite the inch of water I was standing in and some mild ruffling from the wind, you were fine.

I made sure to close the window after that.

The hardest part about all of this was continuing to do the things I needed to do to live and provide for us, while taking care of you at the same time. I still needed to work, to shop, to cook and clean.

Things would have been easier if I wasn’t single. If I had someone who could help pull me to sleep, wrap me up and assure me that you’d be fine. Someone to take care of you while I napped, or to help me with the daily chores. Instead, however, I do it all. You and I napped together in the afternoons, leaving the pile of dishes in the sink. You and I worked together all morning, ignoring the laundry that desperately needed folding. I read to you every night, currently on page 387 of Twilight.

Gardening is the only thing that hasn’t fallen by the wayside. The garden is looking cleaner and more weed free than ever.

Now that everything is over though, I realize how much I had when you were here. The growth that I was helping you through was also helping me, causing me to develop in ways I couldn’t even imagine. My brown thumb finally turned green.

You were the first ever product of my green thumb.

At this point it’s 4:47, and time for me to go. My chili just finished warming up on the stove, and I am starving. I will always remember the short journey we had together, from the first spud to the final plant.

You will probably be the best baked potato I will ever eat.

Forever your man,

The Potato Farmer

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