Something happens around the age twenty-four. It’s a slow transition that happens over the course of the year that prepares you for your quarter-life crisis. Ok, maybe it doesn’t prepare you… but it’s definitely a transition. I remember once hearing my friends Rikki and Jaimie talk about it, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what they were so worked up about.
I get it now. Over the last six months, my life has completely changed. Everything. My personal life, my home, my job. I’ve never been so miserably happy, and so unstable at the same time. I know that sounds redundant, but it’s exactly how I feel.
During what seemed to be my biggest emotional breakdown thus far, I called the one person who I knew could help. My mother. And help, she did.
In tears I told her how I was really happy, but things were so up in the air that I wasn’t certain of anything. I told her how I missed home, but that I knew that my new home was here. I told her how I wanted nothing more than to be self-sufficient, and make her proud.
Quietly, she told me to wait for a moment while she retrieved something. I couldn’t fathom what would be so important that she needed to interrupt my waterfall of tears, but I had nothing better to do than sit and cry… so I waited. A few moments later, she came back and said “I would like to read you something. During your baby shower a friend of mine gave me a book of “Meditation for Mothers.” In the back there was a place to write a letter to your child, so when you were exactly two weeks old, that’s what I did.”
Mind you I had never heard her mention this book before. I had never seen this letter. For over twenty-four years this letter has remained untouched, and unread in the back of a dusty old maternity book that my mother has kept in her top dresser drawer. And twenty-four years later she reads to me from it in during one of my lowest hours.
“A Letter To My Child
Today you celebrated your two-week birthday and already you have filled my life with so much joy and happiness. I remember the first time I saw you and held you in my arms. God, you were so beautiful and still are. Sometimes I just sit and watch you sleep and you fill me with amazement. You smile in your sleep and I wonder what you’re dreaming. And when I talk to you, you turn to my voice and it fills me with a joy I’ve never known.
I wonder what you’ll do when you grow up and I have such hopes and dreams for you, but whatever you do I want you to be happy, kind, and considerate. I know you’ll be beautiful, because you already are.
I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I do know that I will try to do my very best to teach you the things you’ll need to know when you’re all grown up. I want you to have the same strength that my father taught me, pride in yourself, determination that you can be or do anything you choose against all odds. Honor to do what you know is right for you in your heart, love for your family and friends, and most of all the ability to love yourself.
And Casey, always, always know that you are loved by me. Already, you have given me the strength to go against immeasurable odds, all because I have you. May we always grow and learn together. That’s the way we started and I hope that is the way it continues. Remember, always be true to yourself, because each day when you look at yourself in the mirror, I want you to feel great about what you are.
I love you baby girl. You’re so special.
As my mothers voice faded out I noticed that at some point I had stopped breathing. My tears continued, but now they rolled silently across my cheeks, instead of the way they loudly flooded the space before. They were steady and slow like the beat of my heart, but the ringing of silence in my ears sounded like a hurricane...
“Wow.” was all I could muster.
Nothing in my life had ever felt so significant.
I couldn’t help but think to myself that she must have jotted it down, or made it up as she went along, but when I asked her to read it again, she did so without hesitation. I began to hear similarities in the way that she wrote. It’s very similar to the style I’ve developed over the years. It’s a voice that I thought I created, but really I must have picked up along the way.
“When I talk to you, you turn to my voice and it fills me with a joy I’ve never known.” To this day, I smile when my mother calls. We talk at least once a day, and the sound of her voice soothes even my deepest fears. I feel empowered to do the most challenging of things with her encouraging whisper floating through my mind. Even when she doesn’t speak, I can hear her voice telling me the things that I already know that she would say. See, my mother has raised me on the very values she wrote for me so many years ago. They’ve been engrained into my very core.
“I wonder what you’ll do when you grow up and I have such hopes and dreams for you, but whatever you do I want you to be happy, kind, and considerate.” I cry now as I’m reading this. As I mentioned above, receiving this letter took place in one of my lowest hours. There have been others… one in particular, that was a little lower.
During that time I was trying to find the balance of success and contentment. I tried to create happiness by being selfish, and happiness by being selfless. I’m afraid I swayed a little too far to the left there, because I found that I hurt the very people who loved me the most. If only I had listened to the things she tried to teach me it wouldn’t have taken so many years and a dusty old letter to clear those dark skies.
“Honor to do what you know is right for you in your heart, love for your family and friends, and most of all the ability to love yourself.”
Going forward, I aspire to love my family and friends unconditionally with no question… But the ability to love yourself… This one I have struggled with. Just now at twenty-four years of age, I am learning to love myself. I am learning to let go of the things that do not matter and appreciate the things that really do. What I didn’t know was that my mother was telling me then that if I loved my friends and family, lived honorably by my heart, and loved myself… then I would find that happiness neither selfishly, nor selflessly. Happiness cannot be achieved by either solely on it’s on. There is always a tug of war between the two. That rope between them keeps the balance necessary to enjoy your life, and enjoy and respect those around you.
“Always be true to yourself, because each day when you look at yourself in the mirror, I want you to feel great about what you are.” she wrote, and she meant it. Every day my mother tells me how proud of me she is. She tells me how incredible this journey together has been, and how happy I make her. My mother loves me with no exceptions.
I do find it ironic though that she wrote “what’ you are” instead of who… or “what you ‘see” instead of are. I have often struggled with “what” I am. Most often in regards to my sexuality. I still struggle to this day. I think subconsciously my mother knew that one day I would face challenges that required immeasurable strength, and that was her way of preparing me in the best way she could at the time... She’s always had a sixth sense like that.
Finally, “Already, you have given me the strength to go against immeasurable odds, all because I have you.”
My mother is the reason that I push myself. She’s the reason I won’t let anyone put me down. My mother gave me the courage to chase even my wildest dreams, and she has been my rock every step of the way. She is the most exceptional woman on this earth, and makes even the worst of days shine with rainbows and glitter. She is my biggest inspiration, and to be like her… that’s my greatest hope and dream. She fills my heart with joy, and in her alone, I find the strength I need to thrive.
Once again my mother has risen to the challenge of raising a naive, whimsical, lesbian, who wears her heart on her sleeve and carries her thoughts on the tip of her tongue. And once again she has done it flawlessly, because none of those things matter to her. To her, I am baby Casey; the miracle child that was never supposed to be. I am that tiny baby lying sound asleep with a smile on my face, because I am in the arms of a woman who loves me beyond measure… And in that moment there is still twenty-four years and three months ahead of us to learn and grow together.
To my mother, I am everything… And she is everything to me.