This week my daughter will turn thirty.
That fact alone is enough to boggle my mind, but there’s more. I decided to make my daughter a Wishing Tree for her birthday. I was inspired by these really cool Wishing Trees I saw this summer in Copenhagen created by Yoko Ono. I bought a bamboo palm tree at Home Goods and ordered some cute tags with heart cutouts. Thirty wishes for thirty years. We had a family gathering, so I asked everyone to write a wish. I emailed my daughter’s friends and other family members to ask them to add to the Wish Tree.
And then I had to write my own. One wish for my daughter. Only one. I’ve known and loved this girl (turned woman) for thirty years. I have billions (maybe trillions) of wishes for her! Which one would be the right one?
I spent days thinking, jotting in my notebook, writing on a napkin, trying out one wish and then another. Then I remembered a day, many years ago, and I had my wish.
Years ago, when my daughter was maybe 8 or 9, we were in the Drive Up lane at Duchess (This is the daughter who has her Master’s Degree in Food Studies, and now runs a literary supper club in Brooklyn. Hmmmm….I guess mothers don’t have as much influence as we think!) and we were listening to NPR’s All Things Considered. There was a piece that included this quote from E.E. Cummings (or is it eecummings?):
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
From the backseat I heard my daughter say, “I think I’m doing pretty well with that.”
Thinking back on that memory made me realize that my daughter is still living up to that ideal. She is fiercely independent. She continues to be her own person even when the world pushes her to conform. She has done this through high school, college, and now out in the bigger world.
What else would I wish for my thirty year old daughter?
My wish: “Stay true to yourself.”