Esther Fresh

I can't imagine what it's like to be a parent. To pour so much of your time and love and energy and worry into a human that you are responsible for bringing into the world; and for making sure they stay in it, as long as you can.

My mother once told me that making the decision to have a child is the greatest act of hope people can make. It took me a while to understand what she meant. Hope for what? Hope that they don't end up having your great aunt's disproportionate nose? Hope that they don't turn out to be an ax-murderer? Hope that they don't hate you?

What I've come to find, is that she meant new life gives hope to existing life. It's a reminder of what is good, of necessary struggle, of learning, of overcoming, of being. But mostly, it's a reminder of the source- the life source that is the same in all of us.

My mom is an extraordinary combination of strength, laughter, logic, and kindness. She's the most steadfast person I know, with an uncanny ability to put me in touch with my innermost feelings and face them head on. It is her I go to when something doesn't feel quite right, when the workings of the world need explaining, when I've accomplished something, or don't know how to. She's the only person in the world who is equally as proud as myself when I do my laundry.

Today is her birthday.

Birthdays have changed in meaning for me over the years. They used to be about themes and invitations and looking forward to that one day that was all about you... and presents, and cake, and proving who your real friends were (the one's who made the cut when, "you're not invited to my birthday party" was the ultimate weapon).

Now, the idea of celebrating one particular day in the life of someone who exists everyday seems somewhat primitive. Don't get me wrong, I have come to expect being taken, ritualistically, to the same sushi restaurant of my choosing every birthday for the past I don't know how many years; and I've never not accepted a present, or cake. There's nothing like a day that's all about you to make you feel grateful for life. Though, maybe there should be.

So, on this day, my mother's birthday, I am reminded of life beyond my own, of life that made my life possible, and of life that exists and intertwines and connects us all.

I owe this great journey I'm on to my Mom (and Dad, thanks Dad, love you) and her bravery some 35 years ago. She left everyone and everything she knew behind and went to the U.S. without family, without a mother tongue to fall back on, and without social media to help encourage her. She just went for it; and I pull strength from her story everyday as I write my own.

Happy Birthday Mom. I hope this day is great and that all the other days are just like it. I hope you know that the world is a better place because you exist. And for the record, slightly older existing life also gives hope to existing life;) I love you.