Dear Future Evelyn,
Today, life is vastly different from life as it is from where I write you. All because of the following four words: You have a daughter.
Today you are not just Evelyn, Wee Little Vie Vie, Ev, Eve, Miss Pleine de Vie/World Traveler/Full of Life, but you have joined a very special club with the addition of “Mommy” to your list of names.
Today, you share a bond with your own mother that is unlike any other. You share a commonality, an unspoken truth, a perspective that could only be gained after having a child of your own.
She always said it, all throughout your childhood, didn’t she?
“Just wait ’til you have kids of your own.”
You always scoffed defiantly. You always told yourself it didn’t matter.
“I would never say a, b, c to my child.”
“I will always let my child x, y, z.”
But you know better now, don’t you?
Today you understand. Today you understand a lot more than I could ever as I write this letter.
But with that, I am here to remind you of things that perhaps time has gently erased from your memory. Of the things that perhaps have drifted away softly, replaced now with the heavy, powerful weight of a mother’s responsibility.
There are various parts of the old you that are now overshadowed with the density of welcoming a new little person into your care. Much was replaced in the instant you made that unspoken pact with yourself when she was born, the moment you laid eyes on her.
You didn’t speak the words aloud, but your heart whispered them into your entire being.
Perhaps with all these things that came with motherdom – this unearthly strength, this unwavering responsibility, this overwhelming sense of love that renders all else meaningless – are the only things that matter now. Perhaps the things that you were so concerned about when you were young don’t really matter any more. At all.
And they shouldn’t. And I’m so glad all these words resonate with you today.
But I’m here to remind you that your child will not get it, not yet. And she likely will not get it for a long time.
“You are my problem.” At 27 years old, you are still her problem. Mommy just told me that the other day, as we made up from a huge fight, both in tears.
Remember what a pain in the butt you were for her?
When you were a baby you were a saint, but the teenage years were rough, remember? You were the first one to ask if you could have a boyfriend, you were the first to ask to wear thong underwear at 12 years old. (She started going off, likely cursing you in Vietnamese, remember?)
You pierced your ears with a needle in the bathroom at 14. You came home from Miami with a belly button piercing at 18. You put her into near-cardiac arrest when she discovered the tattoo of a dragon on your back.
You defied her, you talked back to her, you disrespected her. You screamed at her, you told her she would never understand.
But you couldn’t have been more wrong about that, am I right?
Because as you get older, you realize she is not so different.
She was once the rebel of her family, too. The one that longed to stray from the conventional path. The one that wasn’t quiet about it.
She was once a single, wanderlusting world traveler herself. She used to think that she was letting her family down, too. She once had dreams that no one else believed to be realistic. She’s been through it all, too.
Right now, I want to invite you into the mind of your 27-year-old self.
You never mean to hurt Mommy.
You never meant to upset her when you quit your job. You didn’t mean for her to lose a night’s sleep for every one you spent overseas. It was never your intention. And although you likely aided in the accumulation of grey hair on her head, you know in your heart that the risks you take are necessary. For you. For her.
Remember that as a mother, your words are profound. They are heavy. Whether they are words of encouragement and support and love, or words not fully thought through before spoken.
Remember that the words that are negative spew like venom. The toxicity makes the eyes water, stings as it is absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream. And they carry throughout the body. They fester, they spread.
You may not mean them the second that they are released from your tongue. You never do. And those who are closest to you understand it by now.
I know it now, and I know you will know it as you read this (I bet you will read this and raise your eyebrows and tilt your head in admittance), but you can be so reckless with your words when angry.
But be careful with your daughter. If she is as sensitive as you, to her, they are real. No matter how old she is, they will f**king hurt. They will stay. And only you can lift them.
You are allowed to be wrong. You are allowed to be vulnerable and admit that you’re not perfect. You can tell her you’re sorry. It’s all she’ll ever want to hear: that it’s ok. Everything is ok. Everything will be OK. That you’re here. That you’re proud of her. That you’ll love her no matter what.
Remember that your head floats high in the clouds. So high, that the thick clouds which surround you sometimes disallow all that is categorized as “realistic” and “logical” to seep in. And you falter sometimes because of it.
But remember that it is also a good thing.
Don’t forget how important it was to your 27-year-old soul to be a dreamer. Don’t forget that it incubates the creativity that is so essential to your being. That it frees you, inspires the wings of your heart to open fearlessly.
Let her dream. Let her take risks that scare the shit out of you. Let her wander (and try to get some sleep when she does).
Have faith that the Universe has plans for her. Have faith that you have prepared her. Because you have. I promise you.
Be there for her always should she lose her way. Be there waiting with open arms and an open heart. Be ready with the tissue to dry her tears. Because there is much in this life that only your embrace can cure. She will feel lost should she feel she is without it.
One day, she will understand all you have sacrificed. How hard you have worked. How endlessly and selflessly you love her. That you would move mountains for her, even when she is a little ungrateful shit to you. Just be patient.
If you have passed along your stubbornness, your hard-headedness, your creativity, your passions, your curiosity, your big heart, your ambitions to her, as Mommy passed on to us, you are blessed. But it also means that you have quite a challenge ahead of you.
And that is the beauty of it all, isn’t it?
Tell your baby you love her every day, as Mommy does for me, for you. We will always be her baby, whether we are 27, or 30-something with child.
And don’t stop saying “I love you, too,” right back at her. And “thank you, thank you, thank you.” And one more “I love you,” and one more kiss on the cheek.
Because while to us, these attempts at expressing gratitude for a love so large and full is feeble, it means so much more to her. Aside from the sight of that deep-dimpled smile of yours that is an indication of pure happiness, it is all she ever wants.