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.