“Look, Mom! I drew a picture of one of those sexy ladies who dance one those poles.” – My Daughter.
My Gabriella can be a stinker. Her attitude needs adjusting many times each day. But at her core, she is kind girl with a heart as big as her personality.
There’s one thing she makes very clear on a daily basis.
She loves her family with her entire being. Her family is everything to her.
While her brother was away at boot camp, she struggled with his absence. Each and every day, she’d talk about him, or cry about missing him. It was the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing to watch.
Yesterday, I saw a pink piece of paper with a note sitting on top of the next near the kitchen. I hadn’t seen the note before, so I asked Gabby about it. She said she wrote it a while ago, but forgot to give it to us.
“You can have it now. I’m sorry I forgot to give it to you when I wrote it.”
I couldn’t help but cry just a little bit.
She loves us all the most. How lucky are we?
Normally for after school pick up, I sit in my parked car in the rear entrance of the school and wait for my daughter.
On Friday, I couldn’t wait. I got out of my car when I heard the bell ring and ran up the stairs to wait for her. As I stood there in the middle of the field waiting for her, the cold wind blew my hair into my eyes. I pushed my hair back and I wiped the tears from my eyes.
I don’t want her to see my cry.
I spotted her walking with a friend. She was wearing her big, puffy jacket. She was laughing– pure joy, sweet, innocent childhood joy.
She doesn’t know. I thought to myself. Thank God, she doesn’t know.
As she got closer, I felt the urge to run to her, scoop her up in my arms, and squeeze her tightly. But I stood there just a bit longer, waiting for her to see me standing there.
She saw me. Her eyes lit up. The smile on her face grew ten times bigger and she ran towards me.
“Moooooommmmmyyyyyyyyyyyy!” She shouted as she ran.
I began running towards her.
When we met, I knelt down, she wrapped her arms around my neck. We hugged tightly.
“Why did you come here to meet me? I’m so happy to see you!”
“I was thinking about how much I love you and couldn’t wait to see your face.” I replied.
“Well, this is the best day ever!” She said as we began walking towards towards the car.
No, it’s not. It’s the worst day ever. The absolute worst day. But she didn’t need to know that. In that moment, she needed only to believe that it absolutely was the best day ever. She was safe, I could hold my baby’s hand, she could hold mine. Oh, I felt so very lucky, so very blessed. Because on the other side of the country, so many parents no longer had their babies with them. They couldn’t hold their hands. They would never again get out of their cars to meet their babies, or see their smiles again, or feel their babies arms around their necks.
Oh my God.
Oh my God.
At the beginning of this school year, Gabby’s teacher mentioned to us that she had to move Gabby to the front of the classroom because she was having trouble seeing the board. This was news to me as my daughter had never complained about having trouble seeing things. I asked Gabby about it and she told me that yes, she wasn’t able to see the board if she was sitting in the back of the classroom. We immediately made her an appointment to have her eyes examined.
Her appointment was on the day before Halloween. When she sat down in the chair, the doctor asked her to read the chart. The letters were large to start and she was able to correctly identify each one. But as the letter got smaller, it became painfully obvious that my daughter was kind of blind.
The letters on the chart:
x p l t z o
What my daughter would say:
k h t n p
I had no idea her eyesight was that bad! How did I miss that? What kind of a mother am I?
I leaned over to my husband and said “I think I’m going to cry. How did we not know she couldn’t see properly?”
She was diagnosed as near sighted, with 20/100 vision in both eyes. I have never felt like a bigger jerk of a parent in my entire life.
The idea of having to wear glasses during class to see the board was not something Gabby was happy about. “Glasses are ugly and they will make me look weird!” But once she saw that there were such things as pink princess glasses, she warmed up to the idea of having to wear them. “Fine. I’ll get these.” She said as she looked at herself in the mirror with the pink princess glasses.
We picked the glasses up last Friday and you guys? Seeing my daughter sitting on the sofa wearing her pink glasses is THE CUTEST, MOST PRECIOUS THING IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. I still feel like a jerk for not realizing my daughter couldn’t see correctly, but I feel somewhat better knowing we finally were able to help correct the problem.
This was her reaction when she watched TV with her glasses for the first time. “Everything looks so clear!” She said in amazement. Yes, I cried.
The! Cutest! Thing! In! My! Life!
Today I was having a discussion with my daughter about people who say hurtful things. We discussed how to handle situations in which people say things that aren’t so kind.
I was amazed by my daughter’s ability to understand that people who say unkind and hurtful things usually do so because they are not happy with themselves.
After a long conversation, she came to the following conclusion.
“Sometimes people say mean things to other people so that they can feel better inside. I should’t get sad or mad if someone calls me ugly because I know it’s not true. If someone calls me ugly at school, I’m just going to tell them that I know I’m not ugly and that they aren’t ugly either and they should be proud of who they are.”
We talked a bit more. At the end of our conversation, I told her that it makes me happy to know that she thinks she’s beautiful and that she wouldn’t believe someone who told her she was ugly. And then, I asked her the following question.
“What makes a person beautiful, Gabriella?”
Without hesitation, she said “Passion. Passion and love and kindness.”
I smiled. My daughter is only eight years old and she gets it. I hope that she carries that belief with her always.
Andrew recently graduated from Military Combat Training at Camp Pendleton. We were going to drive out for his graduation ceremony and would get to spend a couple of hours with him before he was shipped out to MO to continue his training.
“Would you like for me to bring anything for you, son?” I asked.
I was thinking maybe he’d ask for me to bring food, or his favorite candy.
“Please just bring my guitar so I can play for a little bit before shipping out.” he replied.
I was so moved by his simple request.
I brought his guitar as he requested. After the ceremony was finished and photos with the family had been taken, my son was able to play for a few minutes before shipping out to MO.
I can’t wait until I can hear him play again. Hopefully in time for Christmas.
After seventeen days, Andrew’s leave ended today.
We left the house at 6am and just a few hours later, I was saying goodbye in a parking lot. As I walked around the car to give him a goodbye hug, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, but I fought them back.
“Stay strong. Son.” I said. “Make me proud. I love you so much.”
He hugged me, I hugged him back.
“I will, Mom. I love you too.”
He turned and walked away carrying all of his things. I sat in the car and watched him walk away.
“He’s a man now. My son is a man.”
I wanted to roll down my window and shout out “I love you! I’m going to miss you!” like I used to do when he was just a little guy. But I just sat there, watching him, proud of him. And then, I drove away and left him to do continue his journey.
His time here with us was simply wonderful, but the days flew by too quickly. He’s gone again and his presence here is already missed deeply. I can only hope the next three months pass as quickly as the last seventeen days did.
Our son has been home with us for twelve days. Having him home here with us has been wonderful. We’ve gone out for pizza with friends. We’ve gone out to breakfast. We’ve gone thrift store shopping. We’ve sat on the couch late at night and reminisced about the past. We’ve watched our favorite T.V shows together. We’ve eaten our favorite foods together. We’ve visited with friends and family. We’ve laughed. A LOT.
My son is definitely a changed man, but the core of who he is has remained unchanged. He’s still kind, loving and hilarious. He’s been transformed into a confident, strong, focused individual. He’s also not ashamed to admit that he is proud– proud of what he’s accomplished, proud of who he is. As his mother, this brings me immeasurable joy.
His time here at home is short– there are only five days left until he has to leave us again for another three months. (He has Marine Combat Training for thirty days, followed by his specialty training in Missouri for two months.) When I think of him leaving, my heart aches because I know I’ll miss him like crazy. However, I’m better prepared emotionally this time around. Even though I will miss him, I won’t allow myself to be consumed with fear and worry this time around. My son is no longer a little boy who can’t take care of himself. He’s a strong, capable, brave man. Not to mention, a freaking U.S. Marine.
Over two months ago, I kissed my son goodbye and left him to begin his journey to become a Marine.
The first few days of his absence were the most difficult days I’ve faced as a parent. I cried too much, I ate too much, I didn’t sleep much and I cried some more.
Luckily, I have an amazing family and support system. So many of you were there for me, sending me emails, texts and comments, letting me know you were thinking of me and praying for my son.
On August 9th, I got to see my son again. On August 10th, he graduated and we brought him home. It was the proudest, most meaningful moment.
I wanted to share this video I created and to say thank you to every single person who was there for me and my family during this amazing journey.
I am so grateful for your kindness.
And I am so proud of my son.