admin Thursday, May 30, 2024 Comments Off on WHAT A SPLENDID SURPRISE

The Vallette kids.

I never wanted to be a mom. I know that can be a controversial thing to say and maybe a little confusing to hear from a woman who has five children, but I didn’t. I dreamt about working in a penthouse office in some big city. I dreamt about being stressed and working too much. When I was little, I never played with barbies or baby dolls. I played lawyer. I pretended to be a big shot lawyer and forced my little brother to play the role of my opposing counsel. All he wanted to do was pretend to be tigers.
This is probably too much information, but I can vividly remember being in sixth grade and needing to use the bathroom. I told myself I had to hold it. I needed to build up stamina because one day there’d be a meeting happening in some huge boardroom and I wouldn’t be able to leave to go to the bathroom. Those are the things my 12-year-old brain thought about.

Cut to Diana at 37 living in Carlyss with her five kids and husband. It’s not what I imagined at all. I accidentally fell into this life where we had these kids back-to-back-to-back. And it’s so much different than I ever imagined, but it’s also incredibly beautiful.

My oldest baby will turn 14 this year. She is 5’5, has light brown hair and is not 


Diana with daughter Elaina.

a baby at all anymore, if I’m being honest. She’s funny. It’s something I didn’t expect. Your kids start off funny in the “ha-ha that’s so cute” way and then they grow into teenagers who understand comedic timing and sarcasm. They develop their own unique sense of humor. Usually her dad and I are part of the punch line, but we don’t mind — at least she’s speaking to us. 

I remember when she was born, and we first saw her almost-blond hair. It was a shock to my husband and I, who both have jet-black hair. We were fully expecting a raven-haired baby. But instead we got our Elaina. It was the first time my baby surprised me, but it wasn’t the last. She’s been surprising me ever since. That’s what happens with your first kid. They grow you up. They teach you what’s important. What’s worth saying no to. What’s worth saying yes to. You learn about yourself when you become a parent. 

One of the biggest lessons she’s taught me is that our children are not a reflection of us. I know in 2024 there’s no shortage of social media posts pontificating on how children aren’t raised right anymore and how parents don’t want to be parents. You’ve seen them. It’s all the parent’s fault, they say. Following that school of logic, I should be getting credit for all the good, too. And I’m fully convinced none of the good in her has much to do with me. She’s managed to be her own person — kinder than I am, and more confident.

When she first told me she wanted to join the school band, that was another thing that had nothing to do with me. In school, I was the cheerleader and her dad the athlete. Now, this teenaged person wants to play the clarinet and the piano, and she wants to take voice lessons. It’s all new and different, and I can’t trace it back to her dad or me at all.

She’s a talented musician. I know you probably don’t believe me because I’m her mom and I’m biased, but she is. I expected to have to plug my ears early on while she fiddled with the notes, but it came naturally to her. This past Christmas she pulled out her instrument and told me she wanted to play Jingle Bells but hadn’t learned it yet.

“Can you pull it up on YouTube?” she asked. So, I did. And she started playing. I was amazed. “Don’t you have to practice and learn it first? How can you just look at the music and play?” I asked 

her, dumbfounded. “Elaina…it’s almost like you can read music,” I said to her like an idiot. “No, Mom. It’s not ‘like’ I can read music, I can read music.” It was hard for me to reconcile because I can’t read music, like, at all. There it was again, something I can’t take credit for.

Something shifted inside of me that day. I realized she was a person. I know that might sound silly, but it’s true. Parents spend so much time projecting their strengths and their weaknesses onto their children. We paint them with our wishes and dreams. It takes time for us to realize that who they are is separate from us. That they have their own talents and struggles. That they’re their own people.

Last week I showed up to her spring concert and sat in the stands. My stomach was flipping as if I was the one playing in front of a gym full of people. That’s what happens when you’re a mom, you get secondhand nerves. I held my breath for what felt like the whole concert. She sat on the edge of her chair in the way musicians are taught, tapping her foot along to the beat. At the end the crowd erupted in applause, and I felt like I could finally breathe. After the concert I found her and gave her a big hug. I forced her to take pictures with her younger siblings and her grandmothers and me. She rolled her eyes playfully but obliged because she knows it’s important to me and because deep down she wants the memories, too.

Marvin and Diana Vallette with their children Elaina, Dane, Juliet, Maria and Victoria.


 “She’s beautiful,” I thought looking at her. And to think she wasn’t even included in the plan I made for myself. Thank God for His surprises.


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