Whether it’s graduating from high school or getting married, there are a lot of milestones to look forward to. I just want to make it to my 45th birthday.
My mom passed away exactly a week before she turned 45. Today, I’m a week and two days away from celebrating four and a half decades on this earth. I hope it’s a time of celebration, not mourning.
While my mother and I had a lot in common, I'd like one difference to be that I’ll live to see 45 and beyond. Another difference is that my mom had me when she was 26. She was a young mother, which I didn’t appreciate at the time, but looking back, I feel so lucky to have been able to spend 19 years with her. I was so traumatized by the loss of her, I waited until I was 41 to have my daughter. The thought of raising a child without my mother was just too painful to even consider for a very long time.
I’m not writing this for pity. I’m writing for my daughter. There are things I want you to know just in case.
You are loved
People often talk about generational trauma. But what about generational love? I know my mom loved me. She never raised her voice and always put me first. She was kind and generous and always had time for me. If she ever got annoyed with me, she hid it well. I was the center of her world.
As a mother, I’m probably the opposite of my mom. I’m unfairly impatient with you and raise my voice too often. I’m usually distracted, whether it’s by work or my phone, or life. I love you with all of my heart and I’m sorry I don’t treat you the way my mom treated me. I don’t know if it’s because it’s been so difficult without her these past 25 years and I’ve become jaded and hard and it’s impossible for me to be vulnerable.
Please know I’m doing my best to show you the love, kindness, and patience you deserve
You are my dream
I didn’t really think much about my future child or children, but when I did, I envisioned a little girl with long hair and big eyes. I pictured a fearless kid who likes to laugh, make up songs, and tell stories of wonder.
I hoped my child would be the opposite of me and enjoy the outdoors, the beach, and sports.
When I closed my eyes, I could almost hear a sweet little voice saying, “Mama, I love you.” I imagined the comfort of tiny hands, always slightly sticky, searching to hold my hand. My sweet baby, you are all these things and more and I'm grateful you made me a mother.
You are a product of love
Before I met your father, I thought I was doomed to be forever alone. The guys I dated were too passive, too selfish, or too boring. If they were smart, they weren’t funny. If they were nice, they were bad with money. I didn’t meet anyone I even wanted to settle for.
And then I met you dad one magical summer evening at Kumu Kahua Theater. We bonded over Resident Evil 4 and the rest is history. He was everything I was looking for. This can be cross checked with my 40-point list of everything I wanted in a partner. Highlights include:
You are strong
Though strong can be a euphemism for negative characteristics, I mean this in the best way possible. I already know that you're assertive, feisty and will never let anyone walk all over you. You're tenacious, imaginative, and endlessly energetic. These are personality traits that will help you succeed in life with or without me.
You can do anything you want to do when it comes to your life and career. Don’t settle for a crappy partner or job or anything that’s not worth your time. You are the perfect you. And while there’s always room for improvement, don’t change yourself for anyone.
You are my greatest milestone
Ever since you were born, you’ve been stealing my heart, piece by piece. Though we have challenges, I want you to always remember the love and happiness we shared together.
I’m obsessed with taking photos because I have just a handful of pictures of my mom. While it’s hard for me to think of her without feeling sad, when I’m gone, I want you to remember our time together without sadness and with joy and appreciation. The time we had was precious and we spent countless hours simply being our weirdo selves.
Even if I don’t make it to 45, please know the greatest, most rewarding, milestone was having you.
Many years ago, my best friend introduced me to the wonderful world of Pyrex. I was surprised since Pyrex seemed like something only fancy adults bought. I had to admit, the sturdy glass containers with a plastic lid were an upgrade from my go-to cheap, easily stainable plastic containers. I'd tried glass storage containers in the past, but after one shattered in the microwave (even though it claimed to be refrigerator-to-microwave safe), I just didn't trust glass. But, since my friend vouched for Pyrex and there were actually some really cute patterns, I decided it was time to take this tiny step towards adulthood.
I bought a plain starter set and was surprised that I actually utilized all the sizes regularly. As a bonus, I'd sometimes find Pyrex containers in fun patterns at Ross. Also, I really liked that since they were glass, they were easy to clean and never stained. The glass also made it easy to see what's inside. And so far, none of the containers that came straight from the refrigerator exploded in microwave. Thank goodness.
Anyway, since I’m on a computer all day for work, I always have an internet tab open to Amazon. That’s how I stumbled upon Amazon’s Pyrex offering, which is surprisingly good!
I’ve purchased the following sets and love them. More importantly I use them! And as I’m currently in a one-in, one-out mentality, I’ve had to get rid of the plain, original Pyrex containers. And though it hurt, it makes me exponentially more happy to see these Pyrex containers in my drawers. I donated my original Pyrex containers so hopefully they'll bring joy and usher someone else into adulthood.
I use the rectangle containers for little lunch bentos and the larger round ones for leftovers.
And not that I need it, but I’m actually very tempted to buy this Hello Kitty snapware set (also from Pyrex) that’s supposedly air-tight and leak-proof!
I can’t really justify buying more Hello Kitty Pyrex set, ugh! But if you decide to buy it or already have it, I’d love to know what you think!
Since I have limited storage space, I had to make some difficult decisions. This was one of them! The one that I bought isn’t available anymore.
I love that it came with a two-cup measuring cup! I only have a one-cup, so it was perfectly practical.
I hope you find your perfect Pyrex. Don’t worry, I’m always on the lookout, too!
When my mom died in 1998, I was devastated. All the wonderful reasons we were so close (I was an only child, she was a stay-at-home mom) felt like cruel reminders of a happier time. My mom had been the center of my world for 19 years and suddenly, she was gone.
As I was a dramatic, sheltered teenager, I thought no one could understand my pain, much less surpass the grief that I felt. Of course other people mourned with me but the person who couldn’t move on was Grandma S., my mom’s mom.
During my childhood, Grandma S. was always paranoid that something would happen to one of her children or grandchildren. My mom said it was because Grandma S.'s first child, Junior, had passed away from sudden infant death syndrome. It was one of those things that was really sad but just completely unimaginable to 10-year-old me.
After my mom’s passing, I knew that in order to live a happy, full life, I’d have to control my grief, not let it control me. That’s what my mom would have wanted. I forced myself to be strong and carry on because what was the alternative?
The alternative was Grandma S. She never fully got back up after life knocked her down a second time, taking another child away from her. She turned to religion, to wine, to solitude, but nothing could ever fill the daughter-shaped hole my mom left in her heart. In her mind, death was a reward that ever eluded her.
The sadness eventually turned to vitriol towards mostly everyone around her except for me. I got a pass because I was my mother’s daughter. Throughout the years, her negativity and pain permeated every facet of her life as she pushed those who loved her away.
Grandma S. showed no interest in most things other grandmas love like graduations, weddings, and babies. She just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t mind so much because as an introvert, I resent forced social obligations. But others in the family felt hurt or neglected and no one could blame them.
My mother's mom spent the last years of her life in an assisted living facility. At that point, she didn’t even want to see me. She didn’t want to meet my daughter, the daughter with the same middle name as her. And though we didn’t get to say goodbye, I take comfort in knowing that she got her reward and can finally rest in peace.
We made it. Baby T. is officially one-year-old! The first half of her first year is a complete blur filled with diapers, tears, and toots. The second half is a little more clear, as I got more sleep and Baby T. started developing into a tiny human with a huge personality. She also started laughing, which helped to balance out the crying (while never an equal ratio, her sweet giggles made life better), eating solid food, and crawling.
She had a one-year-old photo shoot to make up for the fact that she didn’t get professional newborn pics. Last July, we were deep in quarantine so there was no photographer at the hospital and I didn’t want to hire a photographer because at the time everything about the coronavirus was so unknown. Luckily, my uncle is a talented photographer and was able to capture her playful essence and two-toothed smile.
We had a small drive by birthday party for Baby T. Since first birthdays are such a big deal in Hawaii, I wanted to do something while still keeping everyone safe. The theme was Breakfast at Tiffany’s and it was super fun! I made little Tiffany-themed gift bags and boxes and Dada was happy because we ordered bentos from 7-11 Hawaii, his favorite. It was so nice seeing friends and family, some of them for the first time in over a year. It was most people’s first time meeting the baby, which is truly a sign of the times. Baby T. was in good spirits and didn’t cry once. It was a birthday miracle! She was really hot though and her cheeks were flushed the entire time. Everyone thought she looked like a little doll.
Baby T. wasn’t walking on her own on the day of her party. She could stumble around with help. But all of a sudden, the next day, she was walking by herself! We couldn’t believe it! And since then she’s been walking around like a pro.
Even though I’ve had lots of time to get used to the idea of having a baby, sometimes I still can’t believe it. I know it’s cliche but she’s truly a little bit like me, a little bit like her father, and a whole lot like her own person. She hates having her legs covered by blankets like me and will kick them off at every opportunity. She always has to have her feet propped up like her Dada. And unlike her parents she super loves cats. Baby T. is truly a cat baby at heart started waving at cats long before humans.
One of my favorite parts of the day is when she’s trying to fall asleep and she reaches out her chubby little hand, searching for my hand to hold. As we drift off into dreamland hand in hand, it’s comforting to know we’re there for each other.
When our friends' baby, who's four months older than Baby T., turned one, I tried to prepare myself for the inevitable. Soon we'd have a one-year old in the house. And yet, three months later, I'm still in shock that Baby T. is 11-months old! Like the title of the post says, HOW?!
Well, time waits for no mama to come to terms with her baby getting older so here we are. Hopefully by next month it will be no big deal! I'll be too busy with Baby T.'s drive by 1st birthday party. That's right, even though the world is reopening, I still feel wary about throwing a party with people staying and mingling and holding the baby so drive by it is! I'm old fashioned (?) that way.
It's been a pretty quiet month but here are some Baby T. observations:
Just one more month until the big one year celebration! I'm equal parts excited and terrified!