I’ve known Rhoda for many
years. We met in school back in the Philippines and reconnected when Rhoda was working
in California. That’s when I asked her to come work at Care.com. Two years
later, she works in our Operations team. This is a letter she has written to
her daughter on her 11th birthday about what it means to be a single
mom. It’s beautiful and I applaud Rhoda for sharing it with us today.
You probably wonder at how different your situation is from your friends. We’ve moved three times. To Zambia. Then California. And now we’re in Boston. And it’s just the two of us. I know it was challenging for you to have to leave your friends, make new ones and then do it all over again. But you did, and you were strong. In fact, sometimes, you were braver than I was (but I never let on at the time!).
I know it’s tough. Particularly, on holidays and special occasions, like today. You may wonder why they are usually low key. Why you can only invite four friends when others get to invite the whole class. Why I can’t take your friends to the movies or to a restaurant. See, I’m what is called a Single Parent. That means it’s just you and me. We have talked about this before. This does not mean we are less of a family as everyone else, but it does mean our family is different – and, like all the Understanding Our Differences workshops at your school, "different" is ok. It certainly doesn’t mean you are any less loved. We just have to learn that sometimes, less means more. Remember how you and your close friends at school like to be called, "weird" because you have an understanding that it means, "weird but in a good way"? Well, you can say our family is "weird" like that too. Weird in all the wonderful ways.
How? Just think how fortunate we are to have Grandma helping us out. She not only looks after you but also teaches you about our culture and language (remember the Filipino words and phrases book she got you?). She teaches you how to be polite and keep yourself safe. She keeps you connected to your cousins, uncles and aunts and other family. And think about your awesome friends and our amazing neighbors who take care of and look out for you. Cherish being able to go to school, having a warm bed and food on the table. It is the simple things, which we sometimes don’t think about. These are the true gifts that mean so much.
We have come quite a way, Kiddo. Remember how you beat all the boys in your group in fencing? Or, how you sang a solo in "We Are the World" in front of your whole school? Remember how after reciting a poem you wrote about New York, your teacher said, "Did you go to college and back?" Sometimes I think our unique partnership gives you an independence and bravery other kids might not have.
Either way, you are blessed. And you are the biggest blessing in my life. I know your dream is to be the first girl to play on the New England Patriots. And I just I shake my head and worry about your safety as you run off and play football with your friends. You and me babe. We’re both a little "weird"—"but in a good way."
Have a wonderful birthday!
All my love,