When I was about 13, I had all sorts of ridiculous dreams– about being a dancer, or a singer. When I was in high school, I finally told my parents I was going to become an actress.
My parents, like most, wanted to be supportive. They also had struggled for decades to ensure we had a world class education, that we had every opportunity for success, that the things we needed were financially provided for. To hear that those things would be going into acting? Oomph.
My parents urged me to keep doing well in school, to go to college, and at least have “a back up plan.” When I failed my first high school math test, they immediately pulled me out of the production I was in. I threw a fit, I’m sure, but they insisted this is what I needed to do. I thought it meant that they would never support me dream of becoming ~an actress~.
Years later, as I did shows later in high school, my parents showed up to every show. Every time, my mother brought me flowers, took pictures (and sometimes video), showed me how proud she and my Dad were of me. When I was in college, they would drive the hour north to LA for even the small readings I was in. My mother did the same– showed up at every one, brought me flowers, recorded it when she could.
I don’t know how much my parents actually, internally supported the idea of me becoming an actress, but I never once doubted that they loved me, supported me, and wanted me to make the attempt. No matter what, they wanted me to be happy. Even when I left and became a teacher (and I’m sure they breathed a sigh of relief), they made it a point to ensure I knew how proud I make them.
When I think of my mother now, I think of her saying, “try it!” Travel abroad, eat different food, look at another job, maybe date a few different guys after my first break up (should’ve listened to that one–sorry, Mom!). I didn’t try them all, but I knew that my Mom always wanted me to know that my dreams were valid, and my sense of adventure should never be lost. Even when I wanted to try something she laughingly deemed “crazy!” (like run 26.2 miles for fun), she was there at the finish line, telling me how proud she and my Dad were.
Even now, as we all get older, my mom has a sense of internal curiosity and wonderment about the world that I try to see it from too. As we drive around Big Island, my mom is always the one encouraging us to try a hike or eat at that new place or just figure stuff out along the way.
My mother, for all her pragmatic capabilities, is never stagnant. Even if it means some crazy things happen (like discovering that she’s afraid of heights in the middle of Lanikai Pillboxes), she is forever trying new things. My mom is always making new foods, getting into every social media or computer thing she sees– I’m pretty sure that if it still meant she could see us, she’d consider going to Mars if they offered (though, there is her things about heights…).
In a world that told women to settle down, have kids, and stop trying to “have it all,” my mom did those things extremely well then looked around and said, “what’s next?” I have often looked at her path and wondered how she was brave enough to keep going. She moved here from across an ocean at 14. She found the love of her life at 18, and they made it work for ten years before finally making it official. When one path didn’t work out, she became a stellar RN instead, and after doing extremely well by her family, made sure she and my dad followed their dream of moving to an island with an active volcano (that they drive out to watch lava bubble out of wtf). Now here, she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Some might look at this and say, “you’re crazy!” I imagine my mom shrugging her shoulders and saying, “It doesn’t hurt to try.” My mom always makes it abundantly clear that you could never stop trying to have it all, because as long as we were here there are always new things to try.
This mother’s day, and every day, I am always grateful for her. Today, I am honored to embody her spirit of “Try it!” I am privileged in many ways, one of them being that I never doubt that my parents will support and love me unconditionally.
Thanks Mom, for never making me feel crazy or silly for trying new things. Thanks for being, maybe, one of the crazy ones instead.