My mom just turned the big five-oh on March 13th. About a week ago, I asked if she was planning to celebrate in any way and she simply said, “No, I’m too tired.”
If this response came from any other woman turning 50, I would have assumed she might be bit wary of hitting a significant adult rite-of-passage… much like the ones faced by women turning 30 who still have a long list of unchecked items on their “To-Do Before I Turn 30” list (I’d know… I have one such list myself). But it quickly occurred to me that my mom just isn’t that person. In fact, my mother is one of the first women who coached me in the beauty and elegance of a woman who ages gracefully– without lipsuction or Botox, but with dignity, integrity, and acceptance. She’s one of the first women I know who took a stand in a changing generation of women who seek to be “somebody” by saying that she was proud of who she was… a loving mother and housewife. That, in fact, there is much more honor in her role of raising and supporting a family that would quite literally fall apart without her existence than is acknowledged in our day and age. My mom was the first one to tell me that making straight A’s were worthless without effort and a C earned over sleepless nights of conquering theorems and vocabulary words I shed tears over was worth more than a 4.0. She has bravely endured more than I think she realizes in terms of being the youngest daughter of an immigrant family struggling to make it in an unforgiving United States and has carried over those 50 years of experience seamlessly.
There are a few things I often poke fun at my mom for, one of which is her characteristic laugh. It is loud, piercing, and when you hear it from the other room (or city), you know for sure it belongs to her. Once I hit the tender and rebellious age of 13– right when you realize DON’T want to be like your mother– nearly every one of my relatives told me that my laugh sounded exactly like my mom’s. At first horrified, I tried to change it and do everything in my power to rebel against turning into my mother. Today, I laugh with my whole body and yes, it’s really loud, piercing, and you can hear it throughout Beijing. I know exactly where it comes from and I’m proud of every part of me that comes from her.
My sister once brilliantly said, “Mom has conquered the delicate balance between being a disciplinarian and a friend” and I couldn’t agree more.
So today, even if she doesn’t celebrate because she is “too tired,” I want to celebrate all the reasons WHY my mom is tired. At an age where many women are looking forward to retiring (although I wouldn’t doubt for a second that my mom daydreams about one day setting up home in Mexico, her favorite place in the world), my mom works tirelessly to raise my brother, organize family vacations, check in with extended family members, take care of her often-unreasonable parents, develop new friendships and be involved at her fellowship, and the list goes on. I miss her everyday, and even if she’s not celebrating her birthday, I am so thankful to be blessed by her and hope she would be blessed today and every other day by a Father who smiles upon his good and faithful servant.
I love you, Ma. Happy Birthday!