If children are a blessing, than Kwana Gallagher-Weeks is right to consider herself truly blessed. This single mom has been visited by the stork four times, and plans to spend today with her brood, enjoying each others company -- and that of her own parents.
"We'll probably go to brunch, and then have dinner with my parents at our house," Gallagher-Weeks said. "We like going out together, and usually have multiple birthday parties at the same time."
Gallagher-Weeks is a Conch, as are three of her children -- Michael Anthony Gallagher, 25, Mykelle Chanel Weeks, 8, and Mia Chanel Gallagher, 5.
Only Kayla Marie Gallagher, 12, was born outside of Key West in Georgia. The family still lives on the island, where support for Gallagher-Weeks is available in the form of her parents, Patricia Ann and William Eugene Gallagher.
"My parents have been together for 44 years," Gallagher-Weeks said. "Everything I know about parenting, I've learned from them."
Gallagher-Weeks has worked full-time at the Hard Rock Café for the past six years as a server and server-trainer. Her spare time, however, is -- happily -- consumed with taking care of her children. Her three daughters are all currently enrolled in area schools, where they maintain an A and B GPA. The girls also take part in the after-school program provided by the Boys & Girls Club of the Keys Area.
"I just love [Boys & Girls Club Executive Director] Dan [Dombroski] and [Assistant Executive Director] Sue [Kent]," Gallagher-Weeks said. "They're like family to me. And this is such a great program. The kids have fun, and it takes away a lot of the strain from my mind, knowing that they're safe here and having a good time."
Participating in the club's many activities has become a family tradition.
"Kayla started here when she was 5," Gallagher-Weeks said. "And Mia started coming when she was 4 ¬½."
Gallagher-Weeks' affection for the Boys & Girls Club managers is mutual, it turns out.
"She's a great mom," Dombroski said. "She's really involved with her kids, and just a very caring parent."
Religion is important to Gallagher-Weeks' family, and they regularly attend services at the Cornish Memorial AME Zion Church on Whitehead Street. Kayla Marie is currently running for the annual church district queen contest, which takes place in June. All three girls are also members of the Praise Dance Group at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Simonton Street.
When the family is together on Gallagher-Weeks' days off, with the homework and chores done, they go swimming at the MLK pool in Bahama Village, or to the beach.
"The girls really love swimming," Gallagher-Weeks said. "Last year, for our annual vacation, we went to Wet 'n Wild in Orlando. They're total water babies."
Naturally, Gallagher-Weeks' love for her kids is reciprocated in that strange way that only children seem to get away with.
"I love my mom because she's cute, pretty, and she always gives me stuff," Mia Gallagher said.
Kayla Gallagher added, "I love that she's there for me. ... I can relate to her about things. She makes me happy every day."
And Mykelle Weeks said, "I love that she makes me laugh and scream and dance."
"I love them so much," Gallagher-Weeks said of her children. "Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am."