LIFEOGRAPHY | Richmond Virginia Mechanicsville Maternity, Newborn, Baby, Child & Family Photographer » Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

He may not remember. But I will.


For him, friends are a big deal.
They are talked about and treasured.
And thought about.
And on the tip of his tongue when he wakes.
They are important to the most extroverted boy I know.
And love.
He doesn’t spend entire school days with peers–
But still, play comes often. In the neighborhood.
At church. At the YMCA. On Fridays.
On Fridays, when he attends a school–
An enrichment program that opens its doors to homeschool students.
There are field trips and clubs.
A yellow school bus.
Playgrounds and parties.
An opportunity to enjoy the best parts of what a classroom education can be.
And today,
the worst.

He is seven. And excitable. And energetic. And relentlessly optimistic.
He will beat most at chess.
Or monopoly. Or cribbage.
He reads at a level well beyond his years,
and speaks that way too.
But, he cannot always read you,
or your subtle communication signals.
He will talk. And talk. And talk more, if you listen.

But he will love you.
And want your company.
And make you feel important.
And if you are not lovable, he will find something to like about you.
He is kind.
And would not intentionally offend.
Although, sometimes he does,
as growing boys are wont to do.
But, I know his heart.

Today he bounded out of my car and into his school,
with a smile stretched wide and a green backpack stuffed with Valentines.
There was no class list because there was not a formal exchange.
But he painstakingly addressed them the night before,
to the friends he would see on Friday.
To his favorites.
And a few extras in case he missed anyone.
And I prayed for his day.

At pickup, I saw him,
walking toward me.
Crawling in. Buckling. And then it came.
A knife piercing the air and my heart.
My mama heart.
“No one gave me any Valentines. Not one.”
And a pause.
“Except one of the teachers.”
And I just inhaled.
And tried to think of what to say,
that would mend,
and erase,
and fill up the empty.
When inside I was overflowing.

Not everyone brought cards or candy to exchange,
he said.
And that helped.
It helped us both.
But there is a boy who is often unkind to him,
that this son of mine insisted on giving a Valentine in spite of that,
because he knows love is right,
and love wins.
That boy simply said “You spelled my name wrong.”
When this love offering came.
When kindness that was not earned was given.
When it was scrawled in a 7-year-old’s handwriting
who didn’t ask his his mother for help,
because this was just from him.
And I nearly fell into a thousand pieces.

But his tears didn’t come,
And so I held onto mine. Then.
He still had fun, he said.
And ate maybe 15 cookies.
And chips.
And other stuff.
Which is a big deal for a kid that most certainly never gets 15 cookies at home.

And despite it all,
he was down, but not broken.
He was grateful for the day.
The party.
The playground.
And the time
with “friends.”

And I was reeling.
I wanted to shout,
“That boy is not nice!”
“He does not deserve your love!”
But that would be a lie.
And a mother’s battle cry.
The cry of a broken heart,
and not a restored one.

So instead I asked, “How are you?”
And he said. “It’s okay.”
“It’s okay that I gave him one and my friends because
‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, Mom.'”
And that was nearly my undoing.
Of my heart, unraveling.

And through it, I was grateful for our God.
And for Grace.
And His love,
that I do not deserve.
And for this boy of mine,
who sees so far beyond the ugly,
that he looks at the good,
even with sad eyes,
and a let down heart.

He loves.
He loves.
And they may not see him.
You may not see him.
But I do.
I know his heart.
And the love of Christ shines through.
Through his dark and my dark.
And it is light.
And it is love.

Tonight I am still broken.
But he is okay.
And he is loved.
And there is much to be thankful for
He knows love.
And love always wins.

  • Steve - Beautifully written.

    It is better to give than to receive. Not only is it true, but you learn in life it happens to be that way quite often and knowing that truth makes it just a bit easier.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie Fry - Oh Steph. This pierced my soul.ReplyCancel

  • Clair - What a beautiful tribute to your special son. It does hurt when love is not returned. (Though I’m sure that the lack of Valentines doesn’t accurately reflect his friendships at school. Teachers should probably do something more formal or not at all. But that is just a side note.) I feel sad when my happy little social butterfly gets her feelings hurt. Your story so eloquently celebrates the good news of the love of Christ and it’s these tender loving souls who know it best. Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie, as it has helped me see a greater perspective.ReplyCancel

    • Stephanie - Clair, thank you for your sweet words. I adore your kind heart — you have such a gift of encouragement!ReplyCancel

  • beth cupitt - oh, this happened to us to. he said he was the only one in the class that didn’t get a single candy gram. i hate this part. i don’t know how to make it better. like you said, he seems less upset than i am. i guess it’s all part of the process. but this part stinks a little.ReplyCancel

    • Stephanie - Hugs to your sweet and strong boy too Beth. I know we don’t have the answers, but knowing we are not alone makes things just a tad brighter.ReplyCancel

  • Courtenay - First, Michael read your post. “She really is so talented.She has a gift for words.”
    Tell her, I said. She’d appreciate your insight.
    Today, I experienced your words, and I looked for his comments. None! So here they are. But I need to add my thoughts, too.
    Your words move me into your mind and I feel your pain, your love, your indignation. We love you and your family, and learn the lessons with you. Thank you for sharing all of your emotions and wisdom – not just the good and easy ones. ❤ReplyCancel

    • Stephanie - Courtenay and Michael – You are both such a treasure to us! Thank YOU for always sharing love — and loving on my little ones. It means more than you could ever know – and there really is no way to repay you for that. Much love – SReplyCancel

  • Tim - Beautifully written Stephanie!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - Thank you, my friend. Such beautiful words and a beautiful reminder. What a precious son you have! Love you.ReplyCancel

    • Stephanie - Thank you Emily + Tim. We miss you and your mazing boys (and sweet girl!) so much.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger Ingley Unzueta on Facebook - my eyes filled with big tears Stephanie. i so can relate to this.I love the way you shared this. you are a beautiful writer.ReplyCancel

  • Lifeography: Modern Family Photography on Facebook - Ginger Ingley Unzueta Thank you sweet friend. You always have the kindest words. oxo.ReplyCancel

  • Jackie Kirsten - Stephanie,

    I can really relate to this, I am a homeschool mom of two kids, seven & three year old. My seven year old daughter also really longs for friends. It is more challenging where we live in the Netherlands. We don’t have programs like this in schools here. Really sweet of your son. I’ll go to his website and ask for a letter for my daughter. She really like receiving a card. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Stephanie - Jackie – Thank you so much for your note. It is tough sometimes isn’t it? Liam was so excited to get your request. It will be on it’s way this week. I hope it gives her a smile.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - I don’t know what to say. What a beautiful, touching truth. I’m just amazed by the candor and compassion in your pictures and your writing. What amazing gifts you have. Thank you so much for sharing them.ReplyCancel

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