My mom’s birthday is the day before mine. As a kid, I never understood why instead of having a party for both of us, we only celebrated me. Only my name on the cake and at my parties Happy Birthday was only sung to me. She’ll be gone seven years this year and every year brings with it different thoughts as her birthday leads into mine. The first year, anger and anxiety veiled my overwhelming grief. And every year grief guides me in different ways. This year, I understand my mom in a way that I never have. I understand now why she never put her name on the cake. Or why she never insisted on being included when we sang Happy Birthday. Motherhood changes you. It opens your heart so deeply that you don’t see anything else but the love you have for your children. My sister and I were lucky to experience her selfless love. So today, on the day of her birth, I celebrate her. I celebrate her fierce love. I celebrate her as a woman. As a mother. And I celebrate all the women who came before her. All of the strong, resilient women whose lives are now intertwined with mine. Happy Birthday to the woman who holds my hand as I step into every new year.