To the woman I’m proud to call mom

by Jasmine Frias
Kadena High School Senior
A mother of four - a son and three daughters - with a goofy husband at her side, and a shih tzu who’s just as old as her two younger children. A mother who has not only been in the parenting business for quite some time now, but also the military. A mother who willingly joined the army and submitted her children to be military brats. A mother who’s out risking her life for a country which barely acknowledges its brave soldiers. A country which can barely distinguish between right and wrong. A mother who I pick a fight with just because I know her strength. A mother I could touch, hear her powerful loving voice, and see her face. She’s alive and that’s all that matters.
A mother who bravely welcomed the military head-on while I shrink in fear from it. A mother who defends her own and treats all as if they were her own children. A mother who missed birthdays due to being deployed. A mother who, even though she couldn’t be at those birthdays, sent gifts. Tina, the tiny red teddy bear with a present sewed on tight to its little arms and with the words “Happy Birthday” etched on its foot in different colors. Tina, the teddy bear I named after my mom when I was a little girl because that was my mom and that’s how I kept her so close to me when she wasn’t actually there. 
Tina, the red bear who kept me strong because I knew that’s how my mom had to be when she was in Iraq. It’s scary how when you’re a little girl, you already feel like you’re facing the world because you know your mother is. When I was little, it used to be hard going to the park watching other kids having both their parents playing with them, chasing them up and down the playground, pushing them on the swings, or just being there watching their children play. I envied that, and I still do, because it feels like I missed out on what could’ve been even better childhood memories with both parents. At that period of time it was just one parent who could do that with me because the other was someplace I couldn’t reach, someplace that was deadly for little girls like me, someplace where my mom had to stay without her family, a place of anger and fear. It’s okay now because my childhood was a blessing in disguise even though my mom missed out on parts of it, she made up for most of those missed.
When I was even younger, from what my parents have told me, I would run from my mom because she was an unknown woman to me. The stories of when I was so young and innocent, that I had no clue that the woman who watched me while my mom was gone was my grandma. The stories of how I didn’t recognize that my mom was my mom, of how I would run from the woman who birthed me. At that age how was I supposed to know that the woman who gives me her whole heart, I hurt so unintentionally? For my mom I try to be the best child so that I don’t cause her that sadness she experienced when I was so young. My mom isn’t just my caretaker, but a strong woman who pleases her children, who don’t acknowledge her efforts as much as they should. The woman who gives me unique gifts on a whim because she knows I’ll like them. My mom is the type of woman who naturally has this amazing effect on people that is unforgettable. Mom, even though I don’t tell you this as much as I should, I love you. You keep me strong when I’m having a rough day, happy when you just smile, and proud to have you as a mom. 

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