Single Mom Takes Her Kids to Surprise a “Friend” – But Something Else Was Waiting For Them

“I was really in a dark place,” Melanie says, thinking about the day she drove her kids to Houston to start a new life.

The drive was rainy and gray, just like her thoughts. She had just separated from her husband and accepted a new job as a respiratory therapist in Texas. She and her two young children were leaving behind a nice house, a yard, and a big part of their lives.

As they got closer and closer to their new apartment, though, the sun broke through the clouds, and Melanie decided that it was a sign. They could do this. They could rebuild their life. The best was yet to come.

So many sacrifices

woman in white button up shirt and blue stethoscopePhoto by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Still, the next few months were hard. Melanie watched as her son Zach and daughter Kiari struggled to adjust to their new life. They missed their old home and jumping on the trampoline in their old yard.

Melanie felt guilty about all the sacrifices her children had to make. Could she make a new home and a new life for her family in Houston? She worked endlessly, but the bills kept piling up. How would she ever make it as a single mom?

A new opportunity

Then, one day at work, the respiratory therapist heard about an opportunity to work in New York City during the Covid-19 pandemic. It sounded both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. The needs in the health community were so great, the risks still largely unknown — and yet, if she went, she could make three times what she was making now.

Melanie decided that this was another sign and that she should go. She would miss her children terribly, but the extra money would mean that she could envision a better life for her kids. So after tearful goodbyes, she left Zach and Kiari with their grandparents and headed to the Big Apple.

“I was terrified. I was so scared,” Melanie remembers. “I didn’t know if I was going to see my kids again.” But once she was on the ground in New York City, the hectic work environment kept her busy from dawn to dusk. The days were long, and she would go back to her hotel at the end of the day exhausted.

Keeping her eyes on the prize

two babies and woman sitting on sofa while holding baby and watching on tablettwo babies and woman sitting on sofa while holding baby and watching on tabletPhoto by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Away from her kids, Melanie needed motivation to keep going. So she wrote down on sticky notes each of the unpaid bills she had looming over her and covered the mirror in her hotel room with them. With each pay check, she would remove the bill she was able to pay. Slowly, the sticky notes started to disappear.

The routine kept Melanie focused on her goal. And then, one day, the only thing she saw in the hotel mirror was her own face staring back at her. It was time to go home to her kids.

A surprise for Zach and Kiari

Melanie was thrilled to be reunited with her son and daughter. She was also excited about the surprise she had in store for them.

One afternoon, Melanie told Zach and Kiari that they were going to visit one of her friends. The two kids followed their mom through the front door of the house and casually walked in. “She’s really quiet,” Kiari said uncertainly, looking around. And that’s when the little girl noticed something interesting.

“She has the same bag as you,” Kiari said to her mom, pointing to a bag on the floor of one of the rooms.

“She has the same piano as me!” Zach exclaimed, pointing to a keyboard.

“Wait, this is all our stuff…everything in here is ours,” said Zach, slowly putting the pieces together while his little sister kept walking through the house, exclaiming over all the things that were “the same.”

When they got to the back door, the two kids looked out onto a large, grassy yard. In the middle of the yard stood a big sign that read: Welcome Home Zach & Kiari.

“This is our house! This is our house! This is our house!” screamed Zach, running around and jumping up and down.

Kiari looked up in shock. “Can we jump on the trampoline?”

The video of that day still brings tears to Melanie’s eyes. “I just wanted them to have a safe place,” she says. Melanie admits that her kids have been through a lot, especially her son, and she wants them to be kids and enjoy life now.

Kids learn by example, and what an amazing example Zach and Kiari have in their mom Melanie. She sacrificed and worked hard to give them a life where they feel safe, happy, and loved.

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