So, this lady on my left is 50 years old. It was her birthday yesterday. She is at times wonderful, at times stern, at times highly witty, at times deathly serious. She has been a mentor. She has been a partner in watching more Smallville, The Mentalist, CSI, Bones, and random crime shows than I’d like to admit to. She has helped me push myself when I needed a little encouragement. She has held me back when I needed to exercise caution. She is none other than my mother.

People always use the phrase “mommy’s boy” as a derogatory term for a wimp, someone who always backs out at the last moment, citing some lame excuse. Were I a perfect reflection of my mother, that is far from the person that I would be. My mother knows fear, but she uses it to make herself stronger. When she sees that she is afraid, she knows that she is expanding herself beyond her previous limits. And there is nothing she enjoys more than that.

I have more happy memories with my mother than I can count or try to remember. Everything from grand trips we have taken together (like walking the streets of Paris in the space of two days) to many a lazy night at home, watching some mindless television show, trying to predict whodunnit. She also broke the only bone that has ever been broken in my body by falling onto my leg and causing it to be cleft in twain. She claims that I was being a spoiled brat at the time, making a fuss about a toy another kid got at their birthday party. As I am prone to obsessions, I can believe this. Unlike her supposed, short-lived career as an aerobics instructor.

It will be her birthday celebration on Tuesday evening, and arguably the first such event that I will not be attending. This year is a big year for my family, in terms of birthdays. I turned twenty-five, my little brother turned twenty-one, and my mother turned fifty. The fact that I cannot be with my family to celebrate these milestones is one of the hardest parts of working abroad. I am sure it will get easier, but missing such major celebrations does dampen my spirits a little as they roll around. Tuesday will be a sad, lonely day in Korea.

I wish I could be there, but I can’t. Having two week’s leave at inflexible times of the year is the bane of every teacher in Korea’s existence. My thoughts will be far away from the small children I take care of on that day. They will be centred around the cozy home and school where all of our closest friends and family will gather to celebrate my mom’s and my brother’s birthday. So, until we meet again in less than two weeks, I say this to you, mom:

I love you. Never change who you are. I’m sorry about turning your hair brown because you became pregnant with me. I can’t wait to see you again.


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