“You can’t judge what you don’t know.”
These are wise words spoken by Gaby Melideo, a mom from the Washington, D.C. area who recently took a bold, yet controversial step to let her daughter know she was loved. Gaby shared this quote with Babble, as she did something non-conventional in the parenting realm, but she feels it was the right thing to do. And to those who judge her decision — well, you aren’t raising Gaby’s child. And she’s not raising yours.
As shared on Grown and Flown’s Facebook page recently, Gaby says her daughter Emma has been struggling.
“This year my daughter’s life got exceptionally challenging,” her post reads. “Between friends that seemed to leave her behind, academic struggles, sports injuries, and the most difficult … her dad. He turned his back on her during challenging times and just walked away …
“I had spent months worried about her every move. Being 15 can be so challenging all by itself even in a strong loving relationship with both parents. At that age it is easy to question your self worth. I know all too well. And I was terrified my daughter might end up in a hospital bed the way I did because I questioned my self worth.”
She knew she needed to do something. Having struggled herself as a teen (and attempting suicide at 15, she shared with Babble), the mother of two and step-mom to two more could see that Emma needed something to hold on to.
So, after contemplating it for a long time, Gaby finally agreed to letting Emma get a tattoo as a birthday present when she turned 16. But not just any tattoo — Gaby would get one as well. A matching one.
“What I wanted for her was anything that might make her feel extra loved, empowered, special, tough, strong, hopeful, and determined,” Gaby says in her post.
So what did they get?
“We recorded ourselves telling each other we loved them and tattooed the sound waves on the back of our necks,” she says. “If this one piece of removable ink on her skin might gave her any edge on life, I’m in.”
Yes, Emma is only 16. So some may judge Gaby’s decision. But how many kids out there have parents who ignore their needs? Who are absent and let their children fend for themselves? Here is a mom who is there — who is reaching out to her daughter and saying, I love you. I’m here. Forever.
You can’t judge what you don’t know.
How true is that? I can sit here, as a mom whose oldest child is 9, and I can judge. I can say, “I would never … ” and “How could she?” I can spew negativity. Or I can clap for that mom and say, “Thank you for doing what you needed to do to save your daughter.” I don’t know what it’s like to raise Emma, just like Gaby doesn’t know what I go through with my kids every day. And just as I don’t want anyone judging my choices, I am in no position to judge someone else’s.
So now, Gaby and her daughter are forever linked. And inked. Gaby says she initially had regrets, bought tattoo removal cream, and scheduled tattoo removal appointments, but has since made peace with her decision. The tattoos are staying.
If this choice means Gaby’s daughter feels supported and loved as she works through her pain and grief, what harm has been done here? Sounds like all that this mom achieved by making this parenting decision is solidifying her bond with her daughter, who very much needed it.