laurie rae

When Other’s Day Became Mother’s Day

This time last year, I still paused before saying the phrase “my daughter.”

The words felt foreign.

In need of qualifiers.

But after three thousand texts, calls & Skype sessions with 19-year-old Laurie, the words dance off my tongue daily—and without pause.

They also danced off my fingertips as I wrote this short essay—my first for Huffington Post.

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Seeing your essay mentioned on the same Australian cover as Drew Barrymore is surreal. Landing a bylined, 3-page story in this publication is the stuff writers’ dreams are made of. But reading Laurie’s 500 eloquent words (click red sidebar above) about her adoptive childhood + our reunion = immeasurable prouds of the motherly kind. 

Universal Key

A year ago this week, I heard my 18-year-old daughter’s voice for the first time.

The sound of it raced past my eardrums, unlocking doors and attics deep inside me. Something from within expanded, contracted and…sprang open.

For a year, she’s been unlocking the better parts of me. Her unequivocal acceptance has inspired me to chase after the girl I was meant to be—and slip into her skin.

In the 12 months since we met, cigarettes have been quit, the book found a publisher, ghosts have grown quieter, boundaries have shifted.

These are not coincidences.

At 18, I gave her up for adoption.

At 18, she returned and gave me the key to what looks, sounds and feels like a parallel universe.

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Getting interviewed by celeb journalist Jane Mulkerrins for Grazia’s UK Mother’s Day issue was absurdly flattering.

Being the subject of a photo shoot—rather than a behind-the-scenes PR girl—was a giddy, memory-making experience with Laurie. 

But seeing the article in print with the faces of Alberto and Phil on one page and those of me and my bio daughter on the other takes the difference-splitting to a wholly visual level.

Finding Her Pace & Space

With a grand plan that stretches through 2016, Laurie made her post-graduation move to Charleston this month:

Her first apartment and roommate.

A starter closet that’s smaller than a sock drawer.

Navigation of public transpo.

Job interviews and alarm clocks.

Within a week, she landed two jobs in hospitality and established residency so she can attend the Culinary Institute of Charleston next August as a local.

She found a church, a new circle of gfs and has already explored the old haunted jail on a midnight expedition. Watching her reach for—and manifest—her dreams so fearlessly leaves me swelling with an emo cocktail of pride-inspiration-joy.

It’s also prompted me to plan an October trip to Charleston so I can make sure she has stuff like curtains, a toolbox, a flashlight and experience the world as curated by Laurie Rae.