Happy Birthday, Cal. I’m not good at much, but I will be good to you.


Sometimes it is too hard to write about love- the density of its emotions, the significance of its role, the fear of its absence, the silence after its exit.

I have tried many times to tell my daughter how much I love her. I wish I knew enough words.

When Cal was born, I made a promise to us that I would stay alive until she turned 30. I was 19 then, and 30 more years of living seemed like a heavy commitment, but I wanted to wait until my daughter was a real grown-up before I left her to fend for herself. I don’t know why I picked 30, but that age seemed so old and unknowable to my teen mind.

I know now that 30 isn’t old at all. When I reached that milestone age a few years ago, I certainly didn’t feel very grown-up, and I still wasn’t ready to fend for myself. I mean, yes, I avoid my mother’s phone calls occasionally because how many times can one person remind you to eat the entire box of oranges she bought on sale at the Korean market to keep scurvy at bay. But even now, if my mother dropped dead, there would still be a deep and unfillable void. And even if I felt like a real adult, I think it’s still okay for an adult to want to be someone’s child too.

On Saturday, Cal turned 14. None of her birthdays have ever been complicated productions. I lacked funds before I got married. I got funds now, but I’m lazy as fuck. This year, I decided to use the last three ounces of Give A Fuck I had stowed away “just in case” to plan a surprise Golden Birthday Snack Time. If you think about it, no one ever expects a celebration during afternoon snacks. As you can see, I really understand the concept of “surprise.”

I spent weeks scouring the devil’s playground (also known as Pinterest) for ideas and tutorials. After attempting some of the crafts, I figured out that DIY is bullshit. I’m into DISE. Do It Someone Else.

I ordered the ombre birthday cake. I helped Harv make the tea sandwiches. I covered the entire dining room floor in glitter wrapping paper. I finally used the Cricut I bought six years ago to make a “Happy Birthday Homegirl” banner. I fought with four very large and unruly balloons and lost. I set out trays of specially-ordered desserts.  I waited for her to come home. I wondered which detail would thrill her the most.

The next morning, as she was getting ready to leave the house, she came into my bedroom and gave me a hug. “Mommy, thank you for yesterday. That rock candy was so awesome.”

Despite all of the privileges in her life, Cal still loves the small and simple pleasures. Maybe that’s why she’s so happy all of the time. I don’t take time to appreciate everyday miracles. I wait for big moments. I try to create big moments.

She’s my daily reminder that happiness only comes when we allow it into our lives. That I don’t have to be perfect to be good. That big gestures aren’t the only ones that count.

I’m not good at much, but I will be good to you.


14on14(flourishinprogress on Instagram)

P.S. This will be my last post for 2013. I’ve never allowed myself an “official” break, and I’ve always been riddled with guilt when I go for too many days without hollering at y’all. Maybe if I make this break official, it will give me some peace of mind while I play catch-up for the next few weeks. There are so many half-finished items on my checklist. I’m looking forward to a fresh new year. Although these past 12 months have been ridiculous, I know so much more about myself and life and happiness because I lost small bits and then big chunks of all three this year.

I’ll still be working the Facebook and Instagram grind. “Like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) for (t)hug life thoughts, not-seen-on-this-blog pictures, and other mildly entertaining but useless shit.

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Take good care.

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  • kimchi_mom

    You deserve a break…hope you have a merry Christmas. Can’t wait to “see” you in the new year! BTW, I can’t get over how young you look in your photos…thems are some good genes!

  • mommyonthespot

    This is such a beautiful post. It made me feel all teary inside. I hope you share this with Cal one day.

    Also, that opening line is totally the reason why I have a hard time writing emotional pieces.

    Enjoy your break. xo

  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful girl! And enjoy your well-deserved break!

  • Lindsay

    I love this! Enjoy your break…it’s well-deserved!

  • theblahblahblahger

    Devil’s Playground…YES!

    Love the idea of a snack time party…I may just have to pin that. ;)

  • Natasha

    Cal is a super special human-and you have a biiiiig hand in that! Happy Birthday! Super cute party, and you two are gorgeous. Enjoy your break :)

  • Kathy W.

    You’re right… you’re never so grown up that losing your mom doesn’t leave a void. My mom, who shared Cal’s and my birthday, died almost two years ago. There is not a day that passes that I don’t think of her. My mom was a great mom–adventurous and fun and brave. I think Cal has a mom like that.

  • http://playgroundconfidential.com/ Rebecca

    That was a lovely birthday post about your daughter but I am BLOWN AWAY by the idea of an official last post of the year. That’s truly brilliant.

  • Tiffany Romero

    This is such a beautiful tribute to you girl. Enjoy your much deserved break!

  • http://www.lifeafterbaseball.net/ Charity

    Pretty sure I’m going to now need a cricut homegirl. Enjoy your break and I’ll be checking you out on your IG.

  • Luna Lablue

    DISE! bahah I love it. That’s what I’m in to. I don’t know how some of these people have so much time on their hands! I use every spare moment to do nothing!

  • Elizabeth Barnes

    Enjoy your break. And your wee homegirl. :)

  • KMcWriter

    She is such a delight. What a powerful quote from Cobain to kick it off and a lovely bookend statement from you — “I’m not good at much but I will be good to you.” You are so good at so much — keep it up, homegirl!

  • Lynellekw

    A snack time party is BRILLIANT. You are a genius.

  • http://www.backinthebush.wordpress.com/ Cyndy Bush

    DISE seriously needs to become a thing.
    Enjoy your break, Happy Holidays!

  • http://aladyinfrance.com/ Lady Jennie

    You are really lovely, inside and out. :-)

    Happy Holidays!

  • Lance Lankford

    Liz, I don’t know what made me weepier… the fact that you’re such a good storyteller, or, the fact that that picture makes you and Cal look like Asian Barbie and Skipper. You are both so gorgeous! I’m glad for Cal that she had a happy birthday and I’m glad for you that you made it happy. For both of you.

  • j8dsworld

    “I don’t take time to appreciate everyday miracles. I wait for big moments. I try to create big moments.She’s my daily reminder that happiness only comes when we allow it into our lives. That I don’t have to be perfect to be good. That big gestures aren’t the only ones that count.”

    I relate immensely to your quote above! My goal this year (NOT a resolution) is to be more aware of that about me and enjoy/appreciate everyday miracles and not focus on big moments or waste my time creating big moments.

    Hope your daughter enjoyed her birthday surprise :)