Thursday, December 4, 2014

Unbeatable Mom - Ashley: Military Mom with a Mile-Wide Smile Through the Good Times and Bad - by Rachelle

This Unbeatable Mom is close to my heart. Her name is Ashley, and she is one of the very first friends I made after moving to San Diego. She was also the very first babysitter I ever used for my kids. I remember the first time I met her. I had just gotten home with my son, Andrew, who was a few months short of two at the time. I was pregnant with Evan. Ashley walked up the driveway and her smile was the first thing I saw. 

Her smile is beautiful and – I’m just going to say it – huge. Infectious, really. And now that I know her very well, I can tell you that that smile stretches from her pretty face to the center of her heart. 

She has been through a lot. Her military husband has been deployed for more than half of her 4-year old daughter’s life, and her mom recently passed away from breast cancer – a battle Ashley watched her mom fight for years. I saw Ashley tear up twice. Not because she didn’t love her mom and wasn’t devastated by her situation, but because her inner strength conquers all. 

Ashley started babysitting for me the very first time we met. There was an innate, instant trust. My son loved her. And she loved him immediately. And then there’s Ashley’s daughter, Isobelle (we call her Belle). What a sweet beauty! Our kids became instant friends, and as they have grown older together over the past few years, there has been a bit of brother rivalry over her, haha!    
On a more serious note (and going back to that amazing smile), Ashley is one of a kind. Her sense of humor knocks your socks off, her positivity inspires, and her role as a mother is admirable. As I said earlier, she has been raising her daughter like a single mom most of the time – and now, a recent move to South Carolina (a far stretch for this Southern California native!) has hit her the hardest. 

“I’ve always been an independent woman,” she says, “but his (Darren’s) being gone has forced me to become even more-so. Moving from California to the East Coast was a culture shock, to say the least. But we are starting to settle.” 

It’s that “but” that I love about Ashley. Every bad has a “but,” a “this is how I deal” implication to it. Her husband Darren has been deployed a lot – “no fault of his own, but for the first almost two years of Belle’s life daddy was a computer screen or a picture in a frame” – BUT…Ashley and Belle are “peas and carrots. Belle and I, for a long time, had a really strong relationship. It wasn’t until last year that she stopped being scared of Darren when he came home and started being excited. Now she’s all about daddy and I’m chopped liver.” KIDDING! “We still have a special bond, but theirs gets stronger every day.”

Always looking at the bright side. The passing of her mom was obviously very painful and very life-changing for Ashley, but every October, she promotes breast cancer awareness month for her mom. She talks only about the good memories, and as I said, I’ve seen her cry only twice. This is one tough mama. Even as she has talked about other mishaps in her life – others I won’t even share – her lips have always been upturned in an almost-smile. Her optimism just seeps out! 

And this is why I wanted Ashely to be featured as our next Unbeatable Mom. She is happy, she is thriving, she is an amazing mom, and now, she is living 2,500 miles away from the only home she has ever known – and making the absolute best of it. “We are starting to settle in, but I miss home every day.” 

Help us send her on her dream day out – to the spa – for some royal treatment and some quite, relaxed time all to herself. As all of us moms know, alone time is virtually impossible and cherished tremendously! 

“Bathroom time is time to myself!” she jokes. “Even that gets interrupted on occasion by our zoo (we rescued a dog and a cat when we moved here). Our total is two dogs, one cat and a crazy kiddo. Time alone is far and few between. A spa day sounds heavenly.”

Here is her YouCaring account where you can make a donation!

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