The other night after a long, grueling hike up a mountain that didn't forgive me for trying to climb it, Kenny and I went to a sauna. You know, the ones I've told you about where all the girls are naked and bathing together in one huge room with lots of showers, hot tubs, and steam rooms. I thought it might be good for my body if I had a nice relaxing soak in the really hot tub followed by a painfully cold dip in the really icy tub. And so I did this a few times, going back and forth from being hot to teeth chattering. I felt my muscles relaxing and I hoped that it would make me less sore the next day. (Lies, all lies. I'm so very sore. Typing hurts, Mom.)
While I was soaking, freezing, soaking, freezing, and soaking again, my eyes were open. So, I saw a few things. I saw women who walked right out of magazines, airbrushed and all. I saw women who wore the tell-tale signs of motherhood, their breasts humbled by the weight of their baby's hunger, their stomachs remembering the once-upon-a-nine-months time they were a home. I saw women who were shaped like time and age, with scars on their knees and bends in their backs. I saw women who were not women yet, turning circles in the mirror to see what they were becoming.
While I was soaking, freezing, soaking, freezing, and soaking again, my eyes were open. So, I saw a few things. I saw mothers and daughters. I saw a young mother washing her hair while her baby girl splashed in a bowl of water she just learned how to stand up and reach. I saw a teenage girl and her mother sitting face to face in the hot tub, knees to chin, telling each other everything about their days, hands in and out of water. I saw a mother scrubbing every inch of her 4 year old daughter's pearl of a body. I saw these women and these girls.
While I was soaking, freezing, soaking, freezing, and soaking again, my eyes were open. And then they were closed. Because I didn't want to cry there. I missed you so much, Mommy. I wished so badly that you were there with me, laughing and telling me the details of your day in the hot tub. I wished that I could scrub your back where it's hard to reach, like these women were doing for each other. I wished that you could wash my hair with my head turned upside down, like you used to in the kitchen sink when I was too lazy to take a full shower.
But I missed someone else, too. Someone who isn't even here yet. Someone I'm not yet brave enough to dream about. Is it possible to miss your own daughter before you even have one? And I know why I miss her already. I know why I want to rock her and read her bedtime stories and scrub her little pearl of a body. It's because I want what we have. I want to be a mother just like you. One that listens to me when I'm crazy-talking out the side of my head. One that knows how to calm me down no matter how worked up I am. One that brings me saltine crackers and sweet tea when my stomach hurts or just when I yell your name enough times from the other end of the house to earn it. I want to be a mother like you, who gives me the confidence and courage that comes with being loved unconditionally.
Because I love being your daughter, I know I will love being a mother.
And I don't know when that is going to be. But sometimes, I'm so excited about it. I've got names picked out (don't worry, an English one you can pronounce and a Korean one Kenny's parents can pronounce!), and ideals and hopes in place. And even though I don't know anything about being a mother yet, I know I'll be a good one, because I had and have a good one.
I miss you, Mom. Why don't you come to Korea so we can hang out naked in a hot tub? And maybe you can get a Korean ajumma to scrub the top layer of your skin off. It hurts a little bit, but afterward it feels sooooo nice! If I can handle it, you can handle it. You know I'm a negative on the pain tolerance scale anyway.
I love you. I miss you. (And some days, I really want a baby.)