The night was amazing. Kaley (13) was nominated as a “Kids are Heroes” award recipient. The moment she found out about it, she asked if she could get a fancy dress. (Of course.) A few days later she got a Happy Meal (don’t judge me!). What I think is sweet is that at 13, she still WANTS a happy meal with the toy. In this one was a Barbie plastic pink tiara. She exclaimed that she would be wearing that to the party!
Uh … Mama has other plans. While it’s incredibly sweet and so very “childlike”, I wasn’t about to let her wear a 50 cent tiara to a party where she was supposed to feel like a princess! So we bought her a real one. (Ok, a fake one, but you know what I mean.)
Why was she nominated? For her selfless love and devotion for 3 years with Manny. She missed both her 12th and 13th birthdays due to us being admitted to the hospital on those days! We were in the hospital for all of Christmas one year. She puts him to bed in her bed nightly (and cries when I tell her she needs a break). But by her doing that? It’s a gift of about 2 hours per night where I have no kids to attend! It’s the difference between being semi sane and downright loopy. She also comes with me every time to the hospital when we’re admitted. Why? So if I have to pee or grab food at the cafeteria or (heaven forbid) shower, he doesn’t freak out that I’m leaving him. (Remember? He was abandoned at a hospital. So to him, hospital means “Mom leaves you.” I’ve spent 2 years assuring him that WILL NOT HAPPEN. And she is a key part of it.
There’s a million more reasons … but she is my hero. And I thought it was time others recognized her.
We all wore our fancy party clothes. Kaley wore her new sparking jewelry and tiara. She walked up to where Manny was sitting and he said, “Are you a princess, Kaley?” And she said YES! He then said Zoe was one too. (My heart melted)
So we went to the party. Daddy, Zoe, Manny, Kaley and I (we were allowed only 3 guests but they let us in with Manny since he doesn’t eat nor need a seat). It was outside on the patio of the Tampa Bay Times Forum (where the Lightning Hockey team plays). And normally that would have been a wonderful thing! But … uh, it was FREEZING. And no one knew it was outside! (That little detail was left out.) So we froze our hineys off. Kaley and Zoe even had bare legs! Thankfully I had spare blankets in the van so I grabbed those.
The night was full of inspiring stories as they told a blurb about each kid. The announcer even made a comment about being hopeful if there were so many great kids in the world doing amaing things for others. There were stories of kids saving people by calling 911. Kids who stood up to bullies. Kids who cared for special needs family members. Kids who raised money and donated it to worthy causes. A few brought tears to my eyes. Wow!
There was only one “hiccup” in the night. The dinner was buffet style. The announcer (trying to be cute and funny to kids) said that, “The ugly kids had to go first and the cute kids had to go last.” He was trying to say not to rush to the front of the line. What he didn’t know … Zoe burst into tears. She said, “Do I really have to go to the front of the line?” It was all I could do not to cry with her. It took me most of the night to put her psyche back. I assured her it was a joke. I told her over and over that she is NOT ugly. That it doesn’t matter how many people have said it, that doesn’t make it true.
Today, I decided to write the announcer. I was very kind in the way I said it. But I told him what happened last night. I even sent him a link to her book. Maybe he’ll rethink an offhanded comment like that next time.
The night was uplifting and amazing. It was topped off by the most amazing full moon on our drive home.
I just publicly want to say two things:
1) Zoe … you are beautiful. Inside and out. I’m one of the most blessed people on the planet because *I* am the one God chose to be your mama. You make me proud every day. I’m sorry that not everyone can see past their own insecurities to see your beauty. I’m sorry that you have EVER felt less than perfect. Please know how much I adore you.
2) Kaley … you are my hero every day. If you could ever see just the depth of admiration I have for you, you’d be blown away. I still remember the first day I ever heard about you. We knew we wanted to adopt Jacob but we didn’t know you existed. Then when they said, “Both or none.” It was a shocking way to find out there was a 2 month old baby, but I’ve always called you my “Bonus baby”. I’ve never had one moment of second thought about making you my daughter. You make me proud every day. I love you with my whole heart.