The Big 5-0


Mom enters my room. Excited. So much so she does a little cha-cha dance to the rhythm of her own drum. The first thing I see. Her face. I love it. Too many days I saw white ceilings and white walls. And mental health workers with clipboards and blood pressure machines. 

Time to get up. It’s her big day. The day she has been waiting for and planning for weeks. The day she has been talking about and asking how outfits look and which looks better for weeks. It’s time for the photoshoot. Her big 50thbirthday photoshoot.

I stay in bed a little longer. A little lag is normal. But some mornings more than others. Today is one of those more than others type of days. She comes and exits a second time. I’m still in bed. Eyes closed. Thinking. Preparing. For lots of lights, camera, action. Not my favorite, but my mom loves it. And it’s her day. But unfortunately, it seems like it’s going to be my day too. An off day. Why does it have to be today?  I just want to be there and happy for her? I hope she follows Monica’s advice. Because “it’s just one of those days, don’t take it personal.”

I hate my off days, especially when they fall on someone else’s day. It makes it seem like my happiness only comes from being the center of attention and can’t be for other people. Or that my mood and behavior are reactions to others getting attention and me not liking that. Not true. Sometimes it’s just one of those days. That’s what it’s like to cope with major depression.

I remember summer 2018. California. Dad’s days. The start of my last long depressive episode. Many churnings were going on in my brain. Yet I tried to smile for the camera and make conversation. Depression brain found that hard; thinking about isolating and death was easy. ASD brain found it hard to deal with the change/lack of schedule. It was supposed to be family time, and we were supposed to just wing it and go with the flow and have fun. But I didn’t have fun; and I felt so bad about it. I kept how I felt to myself for the whole trip, and even texted my aunt an apology for my anxious, moody disposition when we got home. 

I remember Bryce’s middle school graduation. Another one of those days. I remember snapping a photo of mom, dad, and Bryce. Thinking- This is the perfect picture of my family. It doesn’t have me in it. Soon all of the pictures won’t have me in it. 

Now it was mom’s day and I felt depressed. I just wanted to lie in bed with my weighted blanket, headphones, and iPad. But I couldn’t. Today was mom’s day and I wanted to be there for her. So onward I pushed. 

Fast forward to 


We arrive at the studio. It’s somewhat familiar as Bryce and I had a photoshoot there a few weeks back. This time we’re in room six- the room with the flower wall. As we walk through the door, we see that that Lexi, the photographer, is already there. Mom executes all the pleasantries, the hugs and kisses, and then rushes into the dressing room to put on the black dress.

The black dress is what mom would call a simple wrap dress; but it has a little gold shimmery design at the bottom. I start off the playlist. At her request, it starts off with Lizzo. Like A Girl blasts in the background as lights, camera, action- the photo taking commences. The first shot is a reflection photo, one of her looking in the mirror at herself. It comes out absolutely stunning, a preview to the rest of the shoot. For the next few photos, the backdrop is the exposed brick walls. Mom looks absolutely beautiful. Smiling and posing like the model I’ve always seen her to be. A couple clicks of the shutter and flashes of the light, then it’s time for an outfit change. Next up- the green dress.

The green dress is the triple slay. Short. Sparkly. Sleeveless. It shows off mom’s long slender curves, especially her long legs. The ones I bemoan over the fact that I didn’t inherit. Mom’s makeup gets a tune-up while her legs get an oil change. My dad loves seeing my mom’s legs nice and shiny, adding to the triple threat a quadruple. She looks like a fine, well-oiled machine. She poses against the flower wall, accented by the big 5-0 balloons and a champagne bottle. She looks like she’s really having fun. Just being herself. That makes me smile despite having one of those days.

Fast forward to

The Big Surprise

Outfit change number 3 has already happened. Now mom is in the gold dress- a long fitted gown with a slit and low bust. We all stand in the hallway waiting for the perfect second to go in. We being me, my grandma, my aunts, and the big surprise- my dad. Dad told mom that he had to work that Saturday and that there was no way of him getting off. But he got off anyways. He didn’t tell anyone until last night, when he asked me the details of the shoot. Now he was here to surprise her with his presence. He waves his hand signaling grandma and my aunts to go in first. Then I see him walk in. I walk down the hallway. I need a little break. Sometimes I like to just slip away. Plus I know mom’s reaction will be loud and dramatic. Suddenly, I hear shrieking coming from down the hall. I know it’s mom. She is ecstatic. I walk back to the room to see her jumping up and down on my father. Everyone’s smiling and laughing. Mission complete. Mission success.

Fast forward to

Family portraits

Now we’re on to outfit number 5- jeans and a white shirt, the outfit our whole family is dressed in. Time for family portraits. As we pose and smile in all different variations of people, I can’t help but miss my Aunt Paula. I wish she was there with us. 

Mom wants a picture of just our four- the fab four as she likes to call us. Today is one of those days I’m thinking about what it would be like if the fab four would be four no more. I wonder if my family would miss me with the same ache that I miss Auntie Paula. I wouldn’t want that for them. I feel like I ruin every picture I am in. But I still try to smile for the camera. 

In between pictures, I take a moment to just think. About life, auntie, struggles, my family, my future. 

Fast forward to

Mom’s Kitchen

The photoshoot is done. We go out to eat together as a family. Once we’re seated, I excuse myself to the bathroom. Bathrooms are havens for Makaylas. Almost every place you go there is a bathroom. Bathrooms are quiet and you get your own stall. And you can just close the door, take a deep breath, close your eyes and re-center yourself. At least, I can. I always do. I am at the sink washing my hands when mom enters in. It’s the first time we’ve been alone all day besides the cha-cha dancing in my bedroom this morning.  She asks me something. 

“Are you okay?”



“Ya.” (Inside Joke)

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Just having an off day.”

“I can tell. It’s okay. Thanks for pushing through. You guys being there really made my day. ”

“Your welcome.”

Mom, I will push through for you any day. No matter what. If it’s one of those days, if it’s a day when the thoughts are bad, if it’s just a day when I feel defeated and don’t feel like it. I will push through. I push through for you, and the beautiful family that you’ve made that I am honored to be a part of. 

Happy Birthday, Mama. 

I love you. 

2 thoughts on “The Big 5-0

  1. I love you baby girl, I don’t want to ever experience the Fab Four not being us. I am confident that God will see us all through to better times. Just continue to trust God and believe with : NO DOUBT THAT YOU ARE WINNING! 🙏🏾💪🏽❤️😍💃🏽

    I am beyond honored to call you my daughter. 😍


  2. Makayla, you always have a way of bringing someone in even if that person was not there to experience it. The end of your blogs always makes me smile. That is the talent you have. You will always be included never excluded. ❤️ U!


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