What a Famous Relative Taught Me About Relationships

My cousin, several times removed, once said: 
It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair
But it's you I like.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the words of Mister Rogers, an extraordinary human who helped millions of kids believe in themselves and navigate their emotions. At age six I was fortunate enough to meet my distant relative, Fred McFeely Rogers. A brief yet magical encounter I will never forget. 

These days, I'm the father of a young boy. It’s been fun getting reacquainted with Fred's heartfelt wisdom. I’ve also realized that many of Fred’s lessons apply to other types of relationships. Take this quote: 

My hunch is that if we allow ourselves to give who we really are to the children in our care, we will in some way inspire cartwheels in their hearts.

While wonderful parenting advice, I can’t help but think how well this also applies to romantic relationships. The idea of giving your “honest self” to someone. Not the person you think others will find most attractive, but the real you. 

Some of this comes down to acceptance. First accepting ourselves (everyone has flaws), and then finding a partner who accepts the same honest, unvarnished version of us. After all, you rarely hear someone exclaim, “They love me for who I truly am not!” 

Easier said than done, I know. I’ve been hurt in past relationships and never wanted to open up again. “Screw it,” I’d think. “Time to build some walls and avoid more of this painful bullshit.” But with time, I learned to let my guard down, share parts of myself that made me feel vulnerable, and put my old weathered heart back on the chopping block. 

The ultimate result? My son. A reward beyond anything I could have ever imagined. 

But before I get all misty-eyed on you, I’ll say thanks for reading and please write if you have any thoughts, questions, or insights to share. 


Chas McFeely
heybaby cofounder

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