Last night, Jaycee Dugard sat down with Diane Sawyer for an exclusive interview about her kidnapping and the 18 years she was held captive by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. They used a stun gun to zap her and she lost her bladder in the shock and confusion. Nancy held her down with her legs in the back seat and Phillip joked, “I can’t believe we got away with it!” She was brought to a deranged backyard of sheds where she was forced to shower with Philip. She had never seen a naked man and in fact, had never met her own father. Next she was handcuffed. In the days that followed she was raped and played with like a toy—Philip did drugs and dressed Jaycee up for his own pleasure. Jaycee gave birth to two babies in the backyard and received no medical care. This is all so shocking and disturbing, but today, with JD at school, I am remembering something Jaycee’s mom said…
Terry Probyn apologized to Jaycee for not giving her a kiss goodbye on the day she was kidnapped. She had been late to work 3 Mondays in-a-row and was rushing to leave. Something I do without fail every, single morning when JD and I venture into the living room after a night’s rest is give him a hug, kiss, say, “good morning” and “I love you.” On the days he goes to school, I get down on the floor at his classroom, hug and kiss him and say “I love you, I’ll see you later, have fun and be a good boy.” In the evenings when we are done reading books and JD is warm and in bed, I say, “I love you, Jack” (JD says, “I love you, Mommy”), “Goodnight, Jack” (“Goodnight, Mommy”), “Best friends!” (“Best friends, too, Mommy”).
My heart ached for Terry last night and all of those years she agonized that she didn’t kiss her daughter goodbye. I have so much respect for her that she actually admitted this to the world and I’m thankful for the lesson she taught every, single parent who tuned in last night.
This was a single mom raising two kids alone and I know what it feels like to be rushing to work, trying to find your cell phone and a missing size 11 sneaker while your pre-schooler puts his socks on backwards. Mornings can get crazy when you are doing everything, everything alone and it’s easy to forget to say, “I love you.” Being a parent comes with a list of duties that adds up every, single day, I swear. When you’re a single parent, you have no understudy—there is no one helping you look for that sneaker, giving an extra kiss, or saying “I love you,” on the morning it slips your mind—you are everything to your child. Do you kiss your child on the lips? (I do, sometimes!)
I make it a priority to be affectionate towards JD and say I love you every, single day. I always make sure I get down on the ground and play blocks or cars, that we hold hands on our evening walks and if JD wants to sit on my lap or be held, I do it with pleasure. He won’t always want to be this close. I know this all seems like such obvious stuff. Saying I love you and playing with your kid—but we forget. We get busy looking for a job we can’t find. We have to walk the dog. We have laundry to fold. There’s dinner to cook. Emails need checking. Mail needs opening. All of us parents work so hard to keep everything going, that sometimes we lose sight of who we're doing it for…
Like sometimes, despite the fact that I say I love you, I get admittedly annoyed or tired in scenarios and I have to remind myself to chill out. I realize...the sand IS hot. My forehead IS sweating. JD IS eating an ice pop with sand on it, asking me if I want a lick, and I can't find my brother to help me gather these beach toys up, but then it occurs to me -- this is the good life -- why am I annoyed? Am I, really? Nah. Take a deep breath. Sitting on a hot beach eating a sandy ice pop with my kid -- this is true love. I know if there's a day I do forget to say I love you, my actions speak louder than words, anyway.
Give your child a giant hug, then kiss and say I love you, today, tomorrow…every, single day. Eat a sandy ice pop.
Do you hug, kiss and say I love you to your child every, single day?
Order a copy of A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard here.
In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.
For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.
On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.
A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.