twenty-nine years a mother

For my birthday, my mother sent me a word document filled with hundreds of emails I had sent her over the course of the summer of 2000, when I was nineteen. The email said:

***

Subject: For you... ten years ago.

Happy early Birthday. This is a gem. I didn't edit a word.
Love you to the moon and back,

Mom

***

A little back story = When I was nineteen I spent my first summer in Europe. I spent the first few weeks with my Nana who had generously gifted me the opportunity to travel by her side via The Orient Express through Paris, Rome and Venice. We then traveled all over Florence and Tuscany, me pushing her wheelchair over miles of cobblestone road as she guarded my teenaged body with the cane she kept cocked and ready "to smack any despicable men who try to flirt with you! Drat and curses!" The day after my nineteenth birthday, Nana left me in Paris where for the first time, I was to navigate a foreign land on my own.

I spent the remainder of my summer in Paris, London and all around the UK.

It was an incredible journey - the summer that forged a lifelong friendship between my Nana and me - but also, and I'm only now, today, realizing this - twas the summer that became the beginning of a sort of a deep unparalleled bond between me and my mother.
us, summer of 1999. nice lipstick.

Weeks before my trip, I was gifted a small device called "Pocketmail." The device was a handheld just for sending and receiving email, which it did when holding it up to a telephone and pressing a button. Every day I "pocketmailed" my mother messages riddled with typos and alcohol induced crazyperson rambling - summaries of my days and nights, fears and joys, adventures and heartbreak.

I honestly have no recollection of most of the experiences I've spent the last four hours sifting through with mortifying glance but thanks to the weeks and weeks my mother spent tediously copying and pasting them into a word doc, I now know that they exist. That I existed, in a very different (or so I hope!) way than I do now.
Here is an example of one of the emails which I refuse to edit for typos because it deserves to be appreciated in its natural state of OMGWTFness:

July 5. 2000

mom..

i faxed you the thing twice, i hope it went through, it should of, maybe call just to make sure... god, you will not believe the extent of marks every day surprises, dont worry, i sent him the email, there is nothing... god, no... i really do care about him, and think that i could love him... i get that feeling when im with him, like no one else is in the room, and ive only ever felt that with jason, but i havent thought about jason since ive been in london, and i guess mark is good for that... ill explain all the juicy-holy hells- later.... so after mark and i hung out...he had to go be with his pregnant girlfriend, shes pregnant with the previous boyfriend, and then hes a bit f-ed because he impregnanted a co worker a few weeks back, and just found yesterday, his girlfriend doesnt know.... but he got his hiv test back, and hes negative which is such a huge relief becuase he already has genital warts and ghonerea... i swear, god....but at least he's honest with me, i mean i have never touched him... sooooooooo, ahhhhhhh... okay, wellllll, tomorrow im going to the tate with sonia and her friend... i met anthea tonight, and i was like, huh.... really, are you real.... and we had had a bit of wine, and she kept bringing in more, and before we knew it we couldn't even see each other becuase their was so much wine in our midst, i told them all my quirky stories, and sonia and her friend just laughed... they love americans, they say... love you. i tried calling, anyways, goodnight ol chap.... im a bit pissed.... heeheee, that means drunk in the british toungue... but in agood way, because i drank good french wine, and a bit of white wine with mark, because i was so shocked at his news of being pregnant with diseases that my glass kinda flipped up in the air, and suddenly i was laughing about it, instead of being totally perplexed.... well, im still perplexed, but you know, its all sort of..... wait. i should not be emailing you, pissed and drunk because tomorrow you will email me back very worried about my health, but im fine, and so are my breasts, everything is working beautifully, and im still rockin da mic.... love and kisses on your nose and your toes, i suppose............peace mate.


***
I'll give you a moment to digest that...

My first thought after reading: HOW COULD THIS HAVE BEEN ME? My second thought? How could my mother, who once fainted at the mere sight of my nose-piercing, grounded me for being past curfew and refused to let me sleep over at my friend's house because her parents smoked, have possibly loved me in this state of WTFness? No matter what I wrote her (and this is only one of but 100+ emails I sent to her that summer that she saved) she never judged or got angry or treated me like the child I absolutely was. She just loved me and let me explore myself and the world and apparently shady dudes named Mark.

Earlier in the letters I came across the following email:

June 14, 2000
mom...
i am writing you from a sidewalk cafe on the venetian street... there is an orchestra playing before me... they are on a quick cigar break, and then they will play again in a minute... well, i was just thinkingabout how much i love you, and it makes me want to cry when i think about how amazing you are, i was telling nana how perfect i think you are, and she says, nobody is, and i said youre right, but i think my mom is as close as they come.... and you are, i love you more than anything.... and i am thinking of you right now, at this cafe in the most beautiful place in the world...
Rebecca
***
And then it all became perfectly clear. It was her love made me fearless. I didn't have to hide who I was or what I did - no matter how shallow, silly, even dangerous... She trusted me. Maybe because she knew she had to. I was on my own, legally an adult, and yet she could have easily responded much differently than she did. With fear instead of with love. With "the delete" button instead of the "save for rebecca to send to her in ten years" folder.

Instead of holding on to me for dear life, she was generous enough to let me go - to let me be - and to trust that I would make the right decisions. Which in turn gifted me the confidence to trust myself. As a woman and writer, daughter then mother. No matter who judged me, she wouldn't dare. That was never her deal. And so? I was always safe. For twenty-nine years, I have been safe.
With My Moms
us, 2008

There was no one but her that I emailed that summer. No girlfriends or boyfriends... At nineteen years old I felt most comfortable sharing and confiding in my mother. And ten years later? I still do.

After she sent me the letters yesterday, I called to thank her and to laugh over how silly and insane I sounded.

"How could you have possibly loved me with a straight face?" I asked.

To which she replied, "What do you mean? How could I not?"

And I understood. Of course I understood. Ten years later and now I'm a mother, too. I know how it feels to love the same way, no the matter... "How could I not?"

***

Today I am twenty-nine. But so is she, the mother. So today I celebrate her.
<span class=
us, 1982
us, 2010


***

Subject: For you... twenty-nine years later

Happy Birth Day. You are a gem. Thank you for (not) editing a word.
Love you to the moon and back,

Bec

116 comments:

andygirl | 10:41 AM

You are so lucky to have such an awesome mom. I hope you know that. You can just feel the love.

And p.s.? I think I looked exactly the same in 1999. Same hair. Same lipstick. Good grief.

Josey | 10:42 AM

This just brought me to tears! What a wonderful experience, what a wonderful relationship with your Nana and Mothers... beautiful post. How fun to look back at your 19yo WTF thoughts... makes me want to look back at mine. Well, maybe later after a bottle of wine. :)

Petunia Face | 10:45 AM

I have not commented here in a very long time not because I don't read--I do--but because I am busy and blah blah, yeah. However. I had to stop and comment on this post because it is perfect and I am all welled up with tears both for the days of dark lipstick and the way that mothers and daughters are friends. Happy birthday, to you and your mom. :)

Amber, The Unlikely Mama | 10:47 AM

Happy birthday <3

Jenifer | 10:48 AM

You're a lucky woman! In my closest dreams I cling to fantasizes of a relationship like that with my own mother. At the very best, I will give that to my kids. Happy birthday to all of you!

Melinda | 10:56 AM

First of all Happy Birthday! I loved my 29th year, it was all of amazing and I hope your's is as well.

Second, I am near tears and all smiles reading this post. It sounds like you have an amazing relationship with your mom. She is amazing for having the forethought to save those emails for you to read a decade later.

It isn't until you become a parent that you understand how your parents love you. Knowing only makes you love them back that much more.

hand pecked debb | 10:56 AM

Happy Birthday Bec. Having kickass moms are pretty damn sweet.

KPB | 10:58 AM

awesome. this is awesome.

BubbleTeaResa | 10:59 AM

Happy Birthday!
I love the old pictures. You have such striking features and look great whatever the year.

The818 | 10:59 AM

Happy Birthday. Your Mom sounds incredible. That email is...well, you know - amazing. And it's funny - I turned 29 recently too (my first birthday as a mother) and I spent the entire day thinking about my Mom.

jiveturkey | 11:01 AM

Wow. This completely overwhelmed me (in a good way). I hope I can be this kind of mother to my daughter. Thanks for sharing.

Chicago Mom (Heather) | 11:02 AM

Crying at work again (thanks to you). This post is so beautiful. The relationship you have with your mother is SO BEAUTIFUL!! My word woman... You are so lucky. I know you cherish her and the love you 2 have. I wish I had this with my mother...

Totally off topic but you look like Jennifer Jason Leigh in that pic from the 90's!! You looked fierce! (And I mean that in a good way)...

Anonymous | 11:07 AM

What a great/hilarious birthday gift! :) You have a wonderful mom.

My father and I took a trip to NYC when I was 16yrs old...I excitedly called my mother from our hotel room and told her how much fun I was having and how much I loved the atmosphere - the shows, the food, the subways....And how we saw Miss Saigon and it was so wonderful....

And then...she got on the phone with my dad and yelled at him to not let us ride the subways, because they were DANGEROUS. And don't take me to any more shows like Miss Saigon, b/c there were SCANTILY CLAD WOMEN in those shows. ("The Heat is On in Saigon", etc).

....And, that's when I stopped confiding in my mom. (There were other instances like this too). I didn't stop riding subways, didn't stop going to shows, I just didn't tell her about it. She is mellowing out slightly as she gets older, but you can't get back that bonding time of knowing me when I was 16, 18yrs and adventurous. (Though as you mentioned, it was an embarrassing time back then too, so...).

It would have been nice to have had a mother like yours. You're a lucky gal, but like a commenter said above, you knew that already.

At least, in my case, I will show more unconditional love and acceptance to my (perhaps) children one day.

Lauren | 11:09 AM

Reading this I aspire to be a mother like your mother. I would see that like as the triumph of my life.

Lauren | 11:10 AM

...minus all of my own typos. blah.

Mrs. Q. | 11:10 AM

I cannot even wrap my head around that story-- your mom's ability to let you explore and fly. Could I be that trusting with my own teenage daughter? Someday, I hope so.

(And I'm only 40, but your mom makes me want to let my hair go white.)

Happy Bday. Enjoy what was one of my favorite ages!

Your escalator operator | 11:11 AM

Completely wonderful. Have an awesome birthday.

gorillabuns | 11:11 AM

what a wonderful gift from your mother. a gift of what it means to be a good mother. unconditional love and acceptance.

happy birthday!

krista | 11:11 AM

my mom and i became 'penpals' when i went away to college at 20, after spending two years at home going to community college first. she divorced my abusive step-father right after i left and our letters are full of letting go, finding ourselves, finding each other.
my letters sounded a lot like yours. (we all have our shady marks, don't we?) i look back at 19
and think:
wow. i was ridiculous.
this made me email me call my mom and remind her how much i love us.
thank you.

samantha | 11:17 AM

OMG I love you and your mom. Happy Birthday to you BOTH.

You are such beautiful women inside and out. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

racher | 11:19 AM

I just wanted to say that I remember when you wrote about your mom letting her hair go natural, and I just want to say bravo to that choice - she was beautiful before, but her silver hair makes her stunning. (Also, happy birthday!)

Jinxi | 11:20 AM

Wow, that was amazing.

Your mom exemplifies what it means to "be a mom."

Thank you for sharing. <3

Anonymous | 11:21 AM

Happy Birthday! What a great story.
Your Mom looks great with her hair white.

Anonymous | 11:22 AM

This makes me want to hug my mama. Happy Birthday!

phoebe | 11:25 AM

good lord, crying buckets right now. Let's all hope we can be as good to our daughters as your (and mine) mothers were to us.

Shalyn | 11:27 AM

This was amazing..what a beautiful gift she gave you :) Make me tear up. Happy Birthday!

Motherhood Uncensored | 11:35 AM

Geez. I just got through your mom's email at the beginning and I'm crying.

I've loved reading about your relationship all these years. Happy Birthday to you - and the same to your mom.

xo

Sarah | 11:37 AM

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Reading about your relationship with your mom just solidifies how I want to raise my own daughter... to live out of love, not fear. Thank you!!

Karen Chatters | 11:39 AM

Happy Birthday!! Today's my birthday too, although I'm old in comparison. Funny that you wrote about your mom and your birthday, I wrote about my daughter and what it means on my birthday. Great minds...

aimee | 11:39 AM

tears... wow. what a beautiful relationship. i strive to be as strong and enlightened of a mother as yours is. inspiring.

A mãe que capotou | 11:42 AM

Happy birthday !
So you know where to look for when you need inspiration to be a good mum...

flyrish | 11:45 AM

Happy 29 to you both! This post made tears well up in my eyes because I lost my mom last year and she was much like your mom-- as close to perfect as a mom can get. We are both very lucky to have such trusting, generous mothers.

P.S. Also had the same lipstick in 1999. And the same furry-collared sweater.

Anonymous | 11:51 AM

Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your wonderful gift of story telling. I love your writing and your voice.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian | 11:53 AM

Oh wow. There is this thing about stories about the bonds of mothers and daughters that instantly turns me into a pile of tears.

I only know the side of being the daughter, of being an adult woman and yet always needing/wanting my MOM to guide, and teach, and love me. Especially when life gets hard.

Thank you so much for sharing. You did such a beautiful job of celebrating the beauty that is a mother and her daughter.

Your writing is so absolutely stunning.

kelly | 12:06 PM

What a wonderful mother your mama was/is. Truly an inspiration and a mama we can all only hope we will be.

Happy birthday!

<3

The Panic Room | 12:26 PM

That very first picture is freaking epic.

Kendra | 12:30 PM

That's one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever heard of. And not to show you how silly you were, but to remind you of who you are and who you've been. My sister still has a photocopy of a letter I wrote her when I was in Africa in college. I was scared, overwhelmed, and trying to act brave. And I love that letter and the fact that she still has it. Because it's evidence that we were heard. And you're right, now that we're parents ourselves, we see: How could we not love them, no matter what?

Cassie | 12:33 PM

Happy Birthday.

Just so you know I read this post and found myself hunched over my desk in a tears running down my face sobbing kind of way.

This moved me.

abbeyviolet | 12:37 PM

Very sweet and amazing. In my family, the tradition is to send our mothers flowers on our birthdays. (So I send my mom flowers on my birthday each year). It is a small tribute to all they are and do for us.

leslie | 12:47 PM

i took a semester off from college, and i traveled for three weeks with my nana. 3 days in london. 3 days in paris. 2 weeks in greece. it solidified my relationship with her and showed me how strong she was. she had a cane, and she climbed to the top of the acropolis so she could see me see it for the first time.

i didn't email my mom during the trip. but i called. and i know she worried about me. but she let me go. she let me fly off and make my own mistakes.

how beautiful that your mom saved those emails. how beautiful of a relationship you have. thank you for reminding me of the beautiful relationships i have with myself, my nana, and my mom.

girl of steele | 12:49 PM

This is so fab. My boyfriend and I always say that after teen years, everyone should celebrate their mother on their birthday. Love that you did just that.

Seeker | 12:53 PM

Both of you just keep getting more beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

leslie knight | 1:07 PM

i took a semester off from college, and i traveled for three weeks with my nana. 3 days in london. 3 days in paris. 2 weeks in greece. it solidified my relationship with her and showed me how strong she was. she had a cane, and she climbed to the top of the acropolis so she could see me see it for the first time.

i didn't email my mom during the trip. but i called. and i know she worried about me. but she let me go. she let me fly off and make my own mistakes.

how beautiful that your mom saved those emails. how beautiful of a relationship you have. thank you for reminding me of the beautiful relationships i have with myself, my nana, and my mom.

melanirae | 1:07 PM

So sweet. Posts like this make me wish I had a mother. My daughter sounds a lot like you (she tells me EVERYTHING) so I hope we are like you and your mom....

Sarah | 1:07 PM

just reading this? made me cry. not a lot of tears, but that little burn behind the eyes. that feeling that makes you think "oh, god, i hope no one walks into my cube right now."

I saved a bunch of emails that my brother sent me, 10 years ago. (He was 19.) I was thinking about doing something similar - printing them out to give him, for his 30th birthday. I've been wavering on whether or not to do it, but now? I'm definitely going to.

agirlandaboy | 1:08 PM

Man, I hope to be able to parent with more love than fear. It seems to have worked out really well for you two. Lovely lovely thing, your relationship.

Anonymous | 1:15 PM

I am so in love with my mom too - I know how you feel. I remember some of the RIDICULOUS ways I dressed, talked, did my hair...etc. and mom never said a word to tell me to do it different - she knew I would figure it out.

I think your mom is even more beautiful now than in her earlier picture.

GO TEAM MOM!

Amy | 1:19 PM

Those messages from the past are hilarious and delightful. What a gift, what a GIFT. Your mom is gorgeous, and so are you. Happy birthday!

Jamie | 1:21 PM

Thank you for this lovely post.

You're so lucky to have such a strong relationship with your Mom. I really, truly hope I can have a good relationship with my daughter. I read and re-read several sentences, taking in your words, memorizing them, telling myself "don't forget this." Because, quite frankly, I don't know HOW to be a good Mom, or HOW to have a good relationship with my baby girl, because I never had that in my life.

Thanks for setting a great example for me!

Anonymous | 1:37 PM

love this post and i love ur mom's grey hair.. she is beautiful!

Krystal | 1:42 PM

What a great post, it brought me to tears!
You are lucky to have that very special bond with your mom.
Oh, and Happy Birthday!

Mme Paulita | 1:43 PM

ok this is hilarious to me only because I have my journal that I kept at 17 in Europe talking about said love of my life....and then another at 21 where I talk about the guys I was hooking up with.

seekingclarav | 2:07 PM

That was just lovely. And inspiring to me as a mother with a daughter, who one day will galavant all over the world and hopefully trust me enough to send me drunken emails from random dudes flats(shuddering internally at that thought.)

Happy Birthday from one Gemini to another!

Cláudia | 2:11 PM

there are no words, Rebecca. Happy birthday to both of you.

Roxanne | 2:24 PM

What a beautiful thing to have such a wonderful relationship with your mom. I don't often comment on your blog (mostly because you always have so many comments, I assume one more will likely go unnoticed), but this one touched me. You're such a lucky, lucky person to have such love and respect between you and your mother, and the fact that you know and appreciate it makes it ten times more special. In fact, so often it's that you seem to truly appreciate what you have in your life that makes you thrilling to read. So, thanks. :)

emily | 2:33 PM

wow, your mom is an inspiration and I aspire to be like her when I have children. I am your age and was also a bit of a wild one in the late 90s/early 2000s. however, instead of bravely letting me go, like your mom did, my mom freaked out with fear and made me feel horrible about myself and my choices. which just caused me to rebel more. now I'm 29 and much more chilled out, with a past that I embrace rather than regret, but the rift between my mom and I from those days still remains, which is really sad. I hope to be like your mom someday, and I'll try not to ever forget what it's like to be a somewhat reckless 18 year old :)

paula | 2:57 PM

My favorite post of yours EVER....and that's saying a lot because I love your blog. Wishing you Happy Birthday with tears running down my face now.

L.A. Stylist Mom | 3:24 PM

This is amazing in about 60 different ways.

Nothing But Bonfires | 3:29 PM

I loved this and it made me cry and cry. Probably would have cried even more -- and for entirely different reasons -- if you'd ended up with Shady Mark and his gonorrhea though, so thanks for not doing that.

Chelsea | 3:39 PM

Thank you so much for sharing. Beautiful!

Brianne | 3:39 PM

What a beautiful post! It choked me up a little bit. :)

Leball | 4:08 PM

OMG!!!!! I am bawling. I love it. I can't believe it. You have such an amazing relationship with your mom. You are so candid and reading your blog, your book, gives me the courage to be more candid myself.
Happy Birthday Rebecca! You are a magnificent and beautiful REAL person.

-Anna

Amy | 4:18 PM

Happy Birthday! Also, while of course you look fabulous as always, just wanted to mention that your mom looks stunning with her silver hair--great decision on her part to stop coloring.

Kate | 5:27 PM

I've been reading your blog for just under a year, apparently, because I had no idea we have the same birthday, in the same birth year!? June 17, 1981 Woohoo!

Cheers, I hope it's a great year for both of us :)

Kate

Claire | 6:30 PM

Beautiful. Made me cry.

Anonymous | 6:59 PM

1. Happy Birthday.
2. Fable looks exactly like your mom in the pic where she is holding you as a baby.
3. This is how I feel about my mom. I can't wait to have babies!

Cas | 7:16 PM

Could you do just one post that doesn't make my eyes water up....I either laugh till I pee myself or cry...lol. This one made me do both.

Lauren Stahr | 8:06 PM

oh, the tears! What a beautiful post, thank you.

Jill | 8:07 PM

I'm in tears reading this post. Amazing and beautiful. I hope my daughter will someday feel the same about me.
Happy Birthday!

GratefulTwinMom | 8:08 PM

Beautiful. I love your relationship with your mom. I hope mine is half as good with my daughter as she grows.

Anonymous | 8:42 PM

This was a fantastic post - and an amazing gesture by your mom. Here's what I want to know: what did she do when you were growing up that you believe are responsible for the kind of bond you guys have? I'd love to have my daughter (who is 6) say the stuff about me that you wrote about your mom here. Happy b-day.
-Veronica

dana | 8:46 PM

Holy Christ! That was unbelievable. Thank you.

Bunny | 10:50 PM

Rebecca- This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I was in tears!
Happy birthday!

Miss.K | 10:52 PM

I can't lie, this entry had me shedding a tear. I am in complete awe and envy.

Happy Birthday to yourself and your mum:)

Anna | 12:45 AM

I am totally fascinated with your relationship with your mom. To add to what Veronica said, do you think your mother has ever made any mistakes? I mean she sounds 100% perfect the way you talk about her here. How did she go from freaking out to chilling out, like that? Did you notice this adjustment and did it feel weird to you at all? This entry as well made me cry.

Just wondering, did you actually sleep with that guy?

Restless Mama | 1:01 AM

Incredible.

Kate | 6:33 AM

I just got goosebumps. I hope the little being inside me right now will grow to love me like your love your mum. And that picture of you three at the top of the post is exquisite.

carliches | 6:43 AM

This is so awesome. I want your mom to teach me how to be a good mom to my daughters as they grow into adults. (They are 4 and 1 now.) I feel like printing this out and tacking it up where I can read it every day might help. Mostly the bit about her love making you fearless. This: "Instead of holding on to me for dear life, she was generous enough to let me go - to let me be - and to trust that I would make the right decisions. Which in turn gifted me the confidence to trust myself. As a woman and writer, daughter then mother." That is incredible. And uncommon, I think.

jess; [the bottle chronicles] | 7:22 AM

Beautiful post; Happy Birthday fellow Gemini! (Mine was the 15th)

Anonymous | 7:42 AM

Happy Birthday Bec! What a great and unique birthday gift! You have an awesome mother who adores you! Beautiful family of your own as well! I read your blog everyday!
<3 Mo
Florida
Mother of a 1.75 y/o girl

boosmom10 | 8:46 AM

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Happy Birthday! You are both wonderful moms. Your nana is pretty awsome herself. :-)

Blessings,
Jackie

Mrs. Sitcom | 9:10 AM

Happy birthday - what an incredible gift, and what a beautiful mother-daughter relationship :)

Su | 9:14 AM

WOW!
special post for a a special soul.
she sounds absolutely perfect!
as a mom I aspire to be the same.
xo

Wendy Woolf | 9:40 AM

I am overwhelmed by this post, Rebecca, and for all of the loving comments. I was a far from perfect mother and made tons of mistakes and am not sure I am deserving of this incredible post. All I can say is that through all of my parenting, positive and negative, I followed a couple of insights that were important to me and I will share them with you all. When things were particularly bad in Rebecca’s teens, when we were crying and yelling at each other, and I thought I had failed as a mother, I asked aloud, “what should I do?” and the voice that came back in my head said “just love her…love her in the morning when you get up, love her when you say good-bye to her as she goes off to school, love her when she comes home, and love her when she goes to bed.” Even though I didn’t like everything that she was doing or even like HER at times, I always loved her and gave her this clear message from my heart. The second rule I followed was to listen…listen to what she had to say, even if it was difficult. We “cuddled” in bed until the wee hours many nights and these are some of my favorite memories of Rebecca’s teens. She would read me her poetry, discuss her deepest fears and her most grandiose plans, most of which have come true by the way, and I praised her poetry and supported her dreams, even when she announced that she “decided she wanted to go off to the University of Life instead of Loyola Marymount.” After the initial shock and worry, both Larry and I knew that we had to trust her, to let her follow her own dreams and not ours. I have to say, though, that I was often filled with panic inside and had to constantly remind myself that she was the captain of her own ship. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who is always calm and constantly reminded me of the Serenity Prayer!! These times of panic, although difficult, have given me the most opportunity for my personal growth. My last insight to parenting came as an epiphany when on a high school band trip with my youngest daughter, Rachel. We were in San Francisco and it was raining and then suddenly the sun came out. All of the kids in our group asked me if I could hold their umbrellas so they could run around on the wharf. It came to me clearly that being a parent is like being an umbrella keeper…knowing when to hand out the umbrellas to keep your kids safe, but also realizing that an umbrella does not cover completely, leaving space underneath for growth, for mistakes, and for freedom. And there are times when we as parents need to hold the umbrellas so that our kids feel safe, so they know that we are there for them, ready to hand them back when the storm comes again. I have often said that my kids have been my greatest teachers. And I am grateful for them every day, and for the path I am on to better know myself through this journey.

Sabrina | 10:00 AM

I'm trying not to let out the most high-pitched, nasally, and annoying "AWWWW!!!!" but am having a hard time containing myself. If the way in which you mother has so gracefully aged is any indication of what you will look like 20, 30 years from now, you have A LOT to look forward to! Happy day, 29 sounds fabulous!

Amanda | 10:24 AM

This made me cry. I hope and pray that the relationship I have with my daughter when she turns 29 (which a mere 26 years away, ha ha) is as lovely and strong as yours is with your mom. Happy Birthday to you, and Happy Birth Day to her! xo

Janelle Halverson | 10:38 AM

As a daughter and a mother of a daughter this post really struck me. Wow-how neat your mom saved all that stuff - and really, how neat for you to be able to see that snapshot of yourself!
A happy birthday day to you and Birth Day to your mom (i love love love her hair change BTW-she is stunning!!)

Heather | 11:35 AM

Wow... that first email was... ummm... interesting. But again, as your mother so wonderfully put it, how could she not. You are, in the good times and the bad times, her daugther and she loves you. Lovely post... happy birthday!! :-)

Glenda | 11:48 AM

Happy Belated Birthday! This post is beautiful and so touching. I had that relationship with my mom. She passed in 2004. I have that relationship w/ my daughter. Mother/Daughter bond is unbreakable. Love it! I too let my daughter dream big and follow her dreams. She moved from CA to NY in 2006 to pursue her education. Everyone always asked "Oh my god, how could you let her?!" and I always replied "How could I NOT?!" I have her back 100% and she graduated in May w/ her BA in Marketing; Already has a job and I'm so proud. With that said, I'm sure your MOM is oh so very proud of everything you've accomplished the past 10 years. Keep doing what you're doing! I love your writing style and read your blog always, but don't comment always.

Stacy | 12:35 PM

This? This makes me less afraid of having a daughter. In fact, it makes me pretty damn excited about it.

Happy birthday Rebecca, and Happy Birth Day Wendy!

Rachel | 1:44 PM

Um, do you remember watching Disney movies like Sleeping Beauty, where the princess looks all grown up until she is next to her mother, and then she looks like the child she truly is? Wow, that was totally my experience when I saw the picture from 2008!

PopMommy Pam | 2:21 PM

Happy Birthday. What a wonderful gift from your Mom and what a great gift for you to share with us. Inspiring.

Fairly Odd Mother | 5:15 PM

Happy Birthday!

At first, I kind of did that "WHA!?!" but then I remember reading a letter I sent my parents from college and it is OMG-embarrassing and I'm so glad they saved it.

Your mom sounds wonderful---I'm sure she celebrate the 19yo you and she is now celebrating the 29yo you too!

CMKerwin | 6:41 PM

I only hope that I can be that woman in 6 years because now? Now I would have jumped on the first plane and come to rescue my daughter from those awful drunken European boys.
She was and is a special, special woman. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Sarah | 7:39 PM

this post is so timely it's crazy. I love the honestly in your post and I love your mom's reply - we are in this position right now of our 19 yr old son living back and home, things not working out so well for him. Wendy you've given me insight on how it all came together for your daughter .. alot of patience, guidance but most of all love and just showing that all the time. Thankyou .. thanks both of your for sharing what can happen in a 10 yr span to really develop a teen in a wonderful human being. It also give me faith that it's not too late for him!

Anonymous | 8:19 PM

Using the word "gifted"? Twice? Is totally stupid. And using question marks like this? Is even stupider.

Kerri | 10:51 PM

This post is just lovely.

And happy! Day of Cake, fellow June babe. (My birthday is June 15th!)

Olivia Singleton | 11:10 PM

This post was beautiful. I pray that I will always remember these words, so when the time comes they will guide me in being the mother I hope to be.

Ray | 12:20 AM

You made me cry Rebecca. So beautiful. Your mother is awesome. Happy Birthday to you and to her.
<3

" i love you more than anything...."

^^I loved that. I love my mother more than anything too.

infemity | 2:53 AM

loved this post. tears in my eyes. happy birthday!

Elena from Greece | 5:55 AM

my wish for your bday:
to be told the same words one day from your kids:)

Anonymous | 5:25 PM

Oh man - what a lovely, lovely post!!! I'm thinking back to my Mom who is so equally wonderful! I'm going to call her right now!

PS - you and your Mom look so alike! Isn't it reassuring to know that you'll still look amazing in the years to come?

MommyNamedApril | 6:06 PM

Happy Birthday to you! And Happy Birth Day to Mom! And OMGWTF?!!!!

LOL, loved this to the moon and back.

Chelsea Robbins | 7:17 PM

I can't believe how BIG fabs is. she's SO big and beautiful and gorgeous.

the post about the crayons is just precious. I remember reading when she was born and now she's such a big kid! Great job on the whole mommy thing. you rock!

Margie S. | 7:23 PM

Love!

yaussi | 9:51 PM

I loved this post; I'm so glad my friend forwarded me the link to it, as your blog wasn't on my radar as of yet. At any rate, I can totally relate to this post, as my mom has and would do something similar. I recently had a moment (like you) where I really just got a chance to take stock of just how special my mom is (and just how special she thinks I am). It's hard not to think about out without the waterworks flowing. Here's my post on the subject, if you've got some free time for some leisurely reading: http://syaussi.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/to-hell-with-the-hormones/. Keep up the good work!

Meeks | 11:02 PM

Happy Birthday! This was such a beautiful post - my mom is effing rad also so I always feel a kinship with people who are close to their moms. My mom has saved all my college emails, as well. Must go through those soon - I am sure they are epic.
Thank you for sharing.

Ashley | 10:40 AM

I can SO relate to this post! I am living in South Korea right now and emailing my mom like crazy. I only hope that one day I get a gift just like the one you got. What a special woman your mother is :)

Meg | 7:45 AM

Now that's some good writing. I can only hope I will have the courage to do the same for my kids.

Walter Helena | 2:21 PM

This is so very special ... what an honest and beautiful connection you two have. And: happy belated birthday! xo, WHP.

spicylikeginger | 2:52 PM

I am currently in therapy to fix my bad habits, and have begun to realize my emotional immaturity is linked to not feeling like my mother ever understood me, and never really feeling accepted by her. We were never close, even though I wished we were. She and I just never clicked. She's not a bad person, just not very warm, and she is very judgemental. If I had had a mom like yours, my life now would be a hell of a lot easier. So I am so happy for you, and for your kids. Your mom started a beautiful cycle. Our society needs more of this. Perhaps if I am ever a mom, I can try to do as your mom did - for my kids sake!!

Jewel | 5:49 AM

Happy Birthday. Thank you for sharing this. I think it's amazing that she stepped back while you explored yourself & the world yet was always there for you. And it's amazing that you took advantage of her presence & remained friends with her all of these years. I could only hope for a glimpse of this relationship with my child. You made me cry & miss my mother, even though she's in the next room.

Elaine A. | 7:12 PM

My mother would have TOTALLY flipped her shit if I'd ever sent her a message like that.

Just goes to show what a WONDERFUL relationship the two of you have. Wow.

Hope you had a fabulous birthday.

mel | 9:22 AM

OMG this was linked from your most recent post. I am in tears. When I am 39 and my daughter is 19, I truly hope we have a bond as strong as this. Your mother sounds amazing.

FreeRange Pamela | 1:44 PM

OMG, I'm just seeing this post and am weeping. I miss my mom so much - she died in 1998. But I'm so joyful that we had a similar type of relationship, though there were definitely things I couldn't tell her. How lovely to hear about your relationship.

Anonymous | 4:55 PM

Bec, that's amazing. And made better by the fact that I was drunk while reading, hence your 19yo emails made more sense. BUT. It also made me appreciate my own mother even more, precisely because I have never had a confidante sort of relationship with her. And maybe once we are mothers, a reticent child is even harder to deal with? God bless moms everywhere.

So happy to follow you / your family!