So it happened.
You turned three.
And I watched you the night before in your doggy pajamas with your chest just softly moving up and down and your little snuffly snore. And all that life squished into that tiny bed and spilling out of my gut.
My mom died 22 years ago and I don’t know how she could bear the good-bye.
Zoe you hold my heart and the best view of myself as a daughter and a mother locked up in your eyes.
Knowing you is like learning what it’s like to have a mother again.
Because how I love you is how she must have loved me. And I’m free to cry all these happy tears every time you wrap your arms around me and yell, “Best fwends forever!” And I don’t know who taught you that stupid phrase, all I know is how it’s become the most powerful sentence this evening and it has legs and arms that wrap around my heart and make me whole in places I didn’t know were broken.
It’s a love story I never expected. Being your mama.
This lost and run down daughter didn’t think she was equipped to mother a girl.
But look – it’s us dancing around the kitchen and two-stepping past the couch and we’re so freakin’ good at it. This laughing and falling on the carpet after spinning in drunken circles.
We love hard and often it looks like a new pair of Hello Kitty pajamas or another episode of Dora or bath time and bubbles and you sitting so close to me on the sofa my arm gets a cramp. When I ask you to move up you always say, “but I wanna be by you mama.” And you do.
You be so close by me there’s not even a breath between us. There’s just all this space filled up with being filled up.
I’ve brought you a thousand midnight bottles and listened to you whisper a hundred secrets in my ear. I’ve watched your blonde lashes and warmed your cold feet and carried you back and forth to the car because of how much you hate wearing your shoes when you’re strapped into the car seat. I have no idea why. I just know that I will always carry you.
And I will always dance in the rain with you.
I will always laugh at your giggle and bring you one more cup of water.
I will sing your Zoe song off key and feel proud that you love to listen. That it’s still your favorite song even though Peter says I lifted the tune off “Santa Claus is coming to town.”
I will call you beautiful loudly and often – when you’re all dressed up and when you’re wearing your leggings inside out and backwards. I will cheer you as you build your towers of dreams and imagination and toilet paper.
I will wrap my fingers around your curls as you wrap your life around my DNA and I will wake up tomorrow changed yet again by being your mother. I believe that God makes all things new. I believe it because I live it every day with you.
All this sadness that used to spill out of my hands that now cup all this wonder.
You are the girl who’s been running around in my dreams.
These puffs of dreams that smell like so many wishes blown out on a birthday cake.
There’s a chapter in my book called And Then After 18 Years I Rediscovered My Mom – it’s my Zoe chapter. You can read it here.
Zoe’s LOVE necklace over here -half goes to our community project for moms in South Africa.