Today is the absolute best day of the year because it’s the most incredible woman’s birthday (I last spoke about mom here)! I write a birthday ode to my mom every year because she’s my favorite person in the world and I know I am who I am because of her. My mom and I have always been close, but becoming friends with her as an adult has been the greatest privilege of my life. I always used to joke that mom and I would have been friends if we were the same age since we share many identical qualities: feisty, (passive) aggressive, protective of people we love (I can’t say with certainty that this photo was taken on the infamous Disneyland trip where mom fought a man who kept hitting me with with a backpack, but let’s just say it was!), outspoken, and passionate about our family and friends. My relationship and friendship with my mom deepened since I started experiencing severe anxiety, depression, and anger problems my senior year of high school (though I always dealt with anger problems as a child lol!)—what a fun time for mom—and she supported me and encouraged my therapy appointments. And although she was always my greatest cheerleader since I was young (not many parents would gladly watch their 4th grade child sing nonsense songs with over 100 other loud children or attend marching band tournaments where we performed the same show every single time in the cold rain and hot sun), mom’s unwavering encouragement and empathy for my multitude of issues helped me become the semi-adjusted 26-year-old teenage girl I am today! We FaceTime at least twice a day every day until mom tells me she needs to go to bed because our calls keep her awake too long (it must be difficult to be talked at for over one hour every night and then try to sleep!) and our texts are full of my outfit pictures, memes, and thoughts I must share with her immediately!!! Now that I write this all down, I’m discovering I might be…vain? Mom is dedicated to her family, always putting our needs before her own, and full of joy whenever we’re happy. She asks for nothing, loves unwaveringly, and vacuums every stray hair or dust on the ground before you can spot them yourself. I’ve never met a better person in my life and I’m the luckiest girl ever to have my mom as mine. Hauʻoli lā hānau iā ʻoe mom! You are so loved.