By: Sydney Lee | English Columnist
I hope that the first thing you see when you enter this world is my smile. The most warm and genuine smile I will ever let out. Growing up with a single mother, who is now your grandmother, I know for a fact that there is nothing stronger than a mother’s love for her child. Your grandmother’s love for me was so strong that it allowed her to persist in a foreign country, where she knew no one, spoke a completely different language, and had no source of income.
I hope you know that the warmth that I provide you with is one that will be with you for the rest of your life. Your birth has added an entirely new meaning to my existence; I now have another reason to live to my fullest potential. I will remember this day forever. And every year, as you blow out the candles to your cake, I will remember this warmth I felt when I first saw you.
Seeing your tiny feet toddle its way to the entrance of your classroom on your first day with your yellow backpack covering two-thirds of your body, I cannot help but smile the same way as I did the day you were born. You turn back and wave at me, saying “Bye mommy! See you later!” I’m a little emotional, knowing that my little girl who could barely walk a few years ago is now ready to take her first step into society.
I hope that you enter that classroom with excitement upon the thought of interacting and learning from those around you. I hope you realize that your teacher doesn’t just teach you, but also learns from you everyday. I hope you see the value in education and the privilege in getting to learn something new each day. But ultimately, you won’t know any of this; you are simply too young. Hence, all I really hope is that you do not hesitate to share as many laughters as you would like, run around as much as you can, and love as many as you are able to.
I know that suddenly all you feel is loneliness and darkness. But I hope you look around and see that there are so many possibilities for you to explore. You have the ability to change the inequality prevalent in society with your voice. I know you are at the age where you are too young to independently support yourself, but old enough to want to address the issues that you see within society. I want you to know that your voice matters, no matter what age you are. I hope that you would feel confident and strong in an environment that may at times restrain your individuality. You are not just another high school student going through the depressing, habitual routine; the way you view the world and the way you wish to one day become a reason for change will always make you special.
That boy who asked another girl to prom, that teacher who gave you a disappointing score on an essay you worked very hard on, and that college rejection letter that you opened with shaking hands. I hope you know that although it all hurts for days and maybe even weeks, none of them can control your happiness for life. Only you can assume control of that. It’s okay to be heartbroken over the little things; I will not dismiss your pain as something that will just pass with time.
I know that college will be the best and the worst time of your life as you struggle to determine the path you will take for the rest of your life. However, I want you to know this is false, because the decisions you make in college do not have to dictate your permanent future. College is a time to discover yourself, but also learn that the world will not work out the way you want it to sometimes. You may meet the greatest people of your life, but also the worst individuals you ever encountered. You will find yourself fearing the days after graduation, in which you are forced to enter society on your own.
You wave goodbye to me once again, just as you did in 2nd grade. This time, the “Bye mommy!” is not immediately followed by a “I’ll see you soon.” Your entrance into society as an adult saddens me a bit, as my little girl is now forced to face the reality of society. There is so much that will hurt and disappoint you, but also so much that will amaze and excite you: your first job promotion, your first funeral, and even your first real heartbreak. Even though I may not be right by your side, I stand by you through every obstacle you conquer and every achievement you reach, as I have always done and always will.
Seeing you walk down the aisle, all I can think about is how relieved I am for having a loving father by your side to escort you. Then, the next emotions that come to mind is how proud I am of my little girl for becoming the strong, confident person you are today. I do not think that I am losing you, but rather that I am blessed to let in another individual who will provide you with the care and affection you deserve.
You will be starting a family of your own soon and also gaining the identity of a mother. Marriage is beautiful for the family it produces and the motherhood it creates. During your most difficult times in your marriage, look at the eyes of your daughter or son and remember that it was this marriage that allowed for his or her existence.
If you take after your mother, I know for a fact that the idea of a retirement seems strange and almost foreign to you. You have lived your entire life so busily, sometimes even enjoying your hectic schedule for the way it pushed you. But the time has come for you to take a breath, relax, and do all the things you never had the time for. You are allowed to sit all day to read your favorite book or knit a blanket for your grandchildren’s birthday as you wish. You will be lonely on some days, wishing that your child would come visit you to have a sip of your homemade soup cooked just for her. I know you had hoped that the loneliness would diminish with time, but by your age of retirement, you will also have realized that loneliness is actually a necessity. Nothing has served as a greater reminder of the value of your family and friends than loneliness itself and for that, I know that you are grateful.
I am no longer physically here with you, but I am still watching out for you, making sure that you do not forget about the warmth I have always embraced you with. I hope that you look back to your life with the same smile that you had when you first came into this world.