Where to begin?
How is it possible to have two children and still not know all there is to know about being a mom?
She was unexpected. A secret I unwrapped on the morning of my 36th birthday. A third baby. And weeks later I would learn that she was a girl and it would terrify me.
Two years later it’s the thought of ever losing her that scares the breath out of me.
We started celebrating her on Sunday. Like everything this third time around I want to linger in the moments. The three kids crowded onto one kitchen chair so they can help mix up the German chocolate cake batter. More fingers than can possibly be good for this cake stuck into the bowl. Tiny tongues eager to taste everything. Zoe cracks an egg, pours in the oil, holds the blender, small hand folded tight around it in concentration.
Micah can’t keep any part of himself to himself. As much as we tell him to wait his turn, he’s rearranging strawberries, licking the icing off the knife, poking fingers into any part of the cooling cake he can reach to test it. It’s a clash of colors and tastes every bit as delicious.
When you walked toward me for the first time I was the only one who saw. Me and God, church on a regular afternoon between the building blocks of our playroom floor. In the evenings I pull your chubby legs out of the bath and plop you down on the white mat and you always stand on tippy toes with arms up and open and always you say, “huwwy mama, huwwy.” And then I wrap a towel around you until all that’s left poking out are your curls as I pretzel you up and into me and you bury your wet nose against my neck and we laugh. Every night.
How is such joy possible in so tiny a person?
You have bad dreams. You don’t seem old enough for them. But at night when you wake up from a dead sleep screaming, it’s always my name. Always you call out for your mama and always I come. Leaning over your crib I whisper peace into your ear and you calm and exhale and whisper back to me, “wuv you, mama.”
I don’t want it to be today.
I don’t want you to be older.
I’m surprised by the depth of my feelings on this. Zoe Grace, my sweetheart, I want to begin all over again. And at the same time I don’t want to miss out on what comes next. Because each part, each new corner, is the best. Glory Hallelujah, so much worship crammed into just two years – I’ve been your mother for an eternity and I’m just beginning.
Take my hand, slip all that fire and beauty into tomorrow with me and I promise to teach you how to dance. in the rain. Like so many summers ago on a front porch of an old Karoo farmhouse, I’ll teach you how to rush the grass and dance in the rain. Some days inside. Some days when it pours disaster I’ll teach you what it looks like to stand with face up at the sky and let it just soak you through, arms wide open.
Storms will come, sweetheart. And as much as it is up to me, I promise to always stand out in the rain with you.
But today, today I will feed you cake.
And re-count all your fingers and toes.
Happy birthday sweet girl :) sitting at work fighting tears of joy from one mama’s heart to another – these girls are blessings, and life lessons and glimpses of Jesus and make us more than we ever dreamed. Praying today is full of joyful, sweet, savored moments.
Oh how mighty and powerful and fierce is a Mama’s heart! Beautiful… and oh my stars how she is looking at her brother in that picture!? Melt… Swoon… how I miss bath time and wrapping in towels and … but I promise you, each season has it’s blessings and its’ wide open invitation to fall deeper, harder… on Sunday we celebrate another little Zoe Grace turning 2… oh the plans the Lord has for these… Zoe – Life, Substance, Property of… Grace – favor or blessing (a gift from God)… yes – Happy Birthday sweet Zoe Grace! (and Happy Birth Day, my friend!)
Happy Birthday sweet Zoe! Reading through tears today and remembering my little girl. I can just close my eyes and see the pink plus sign, relishing in the fact that for that brief moment only her and God and I knew the secret of her beginning in me. I can remember the day she came from me and her cries filled the room… so many memories each one of them sweet and filled with awe and even now when I think of her on her own yesterday feels like seconds ago… Blessings to you sweet mama Lisa-Jo praying for you and your girl right now in this moment for all the moments yet to come… Thank you!
Yes, yes, yes. Mama to a baby girl after 2 boys, and turns out there are whole new parts of me! Loving seeing your girl grow just a few months ahead of mine. I’ve started saying, “she’ll be 2 in July,” but I don’t really believe it even as I’m saying it, as she clutches to her baby doll and I clutch her in my arms. What a very good gift, these girls of ours! Blessings to you and your family from Chicago-love thinking back to your other kind of hard-work lawyering days and seeing where God has taken you!
So beautiful… my own daughter had her birthday on the 16th, she was 35. Yes time does move forward and you so miss that sweet little girl hugging and cuddling in your arms. Never tire of it the day will come when she is hugging and cuddling her own and you watch the seasons pass before you. So Beautiful your little precious girl. So beautiful are your memories.
Ah, this post literally made me cry. I so know how it is… Happy Birthday, Zoe! Blessings to you and to your sweet Mama.
Happy Birthday little Zoe girl. You’re precious and are bound to grow into an amazing little woman with the aide of your beautiful, kind, compassionate, sweet mother by your side.
Simply beautiful, Lisa-Jo. Reading it through tears, remembering my babies being born, 3 girls and two boys, each one filling my heart with joy each and every time one was born. Just when I thought my heart couldn’t be any more full, another baby came and filled my heart. They grow way to fast….it’s as if we blink and they’re gone. Hang on to your baby girl today and make lots of sweet memories! You’re an amazing mommy, and I love reading your blog.
Oh, Lisa-Jo – how in the world can this possibly be happening? You were JUST PREGNANT WITH HER. Sometimes it truly does terrify me how quickly the days fly by. I know when your children are little it never feels that way – except – I think maybe you’re getting a glimpse of it now, with your number 3 child. Funny thing when you get a different gender after two of the same. The same thing happened to me when I had a boy after 2 girls. I feel like I was so much more relaxed as a mom when he got here – and I’ve apologized to my oldest, in particular, for being so unbelievably naive and downright stupid when she was the leader of our pack. Oh give her a big, big bite of cake from me — and honey, have a couple for yourself!!
Oh happy day dear Lisa and your precious Zoe! What a wonderful celebration. HOw blessed you both are by and for each other. I completely breathe in and feel your words. Maybe it is that third child charm we’re blessed with, I don’t know- but I feel that same way about my dear third baby. She is sweetness itself- I was so afraid of her and how we would all be with her here and then I looked down and it was like I had known her all along. It’s the willingness to see that we don’t already know all there is that lets us keep seeing I think. Enjoy your day!
My baby girls are now 22 and 24. I want you to know that one day down the road you will look at your grown up girl and you will feel something like what you feel today. That magical thing that pricks at your heart and runs deep in your soul? Its there in a grown up daughter still. Happy Birthday to your lovely little one!
Thank you for sharing you life and your Zoe, I too have a young one, my Kara is turned 16 months old ysterday, I so love your blog and feel a kindred spirit and just relate to you. I have two older step-daughters, but Kara is mine, I don’t have to share her on weekends, she doesn’t call me by my name, I am mommy. I worry too about everything, whether or not to get rid of her “paci” (pacifier) yet, I see Zoe still has hers so it gives me hope that I have not ruined Kara for life because i don’t have the heart to take it away from her, Kara will be my one and only so I suppose I want to keep her my baby but yet I am also looking towards the future and excited for what comes next. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.
super precious <3 Happy Birthday Princess Zoe!!
Ok, now! I am now tearing up! I have 3 girls who are 9, 4 1/2, and 1, with a BOY on the way!! SO excited! And YES, time does fly by WAY too soon! I can’t believe I have a 9 yr old already! Seems like yesterday we were struggling to even being able to conceive! God is SO good ALL the time, isn’t He???? Happy Happy Happy B-Day sweet one! I know you will grow up in God’s ways with your mama!! Have a FUN, memorable day!! Don’t miss a moment…. :-)
Hold them tight for they gow so fast. Before you know it they will have children of their own. Then you will have even more love for them and theirs. What a wonderful age they are right now. Being a Mom is the best job in the world. I wish you and your little one all the blessing God can give, for life is worth living when He is included.
Blessing and love Marcia
As I write through tear filled eyes, I pray that you and your family will have a wonderful birthday celebration for your baby. My third baby was a girl and I was terrified. I lost my first little girl to miscarriage , gave away all my pink baby stuff and grieved. We then tried to adopt ( also a girl) and for the second time I grieved, as I had fallen pregnant before we got as far as getting our baby girl. My second pregnancy was a handsome baby boy and I treasured him because I was so sure there would be no more babies. And then came that second blue line.The world stopped. Unplanned,unexpected and it totally terrified me when we found out it was a girl.Three years later and cannot imagine my life without my wild little red head with her temper tantrums and her laughter and her sweetness. God is so good with gifts we can never deserve.Enjoy every moment with your little one.God bless
Absolutely precious! Birthday blessings to your precious little girl and loved the post and the photos!!
Oh snap how is it that when I read your words I cry? Oh mama I know your ache and and your love, I got three Zoe’s myself!! Happy Birthday sweet Zoe!!You are a beautiful gift form God!!
Happy birthday darling Zoe. I love the way you count and cherish the moments dear Lisa-Jo.
What a wonderful post, Lisa-Jo! Happy Zoe’s Birthday to you! I have one sunny son, for whom we waited six years and who gave my husband and me a lot of what we dreamt of and a lot of what we dreaded when becoming a parent, but whom we never ever want to miss! Thank you for your post again. I just joined today and I am glad I did. Warm regards, Victoria
So beautiful! Happy Birthday Zoe!
Oh, Lisa-Jo. This is beautiful – your mama heart and the strong legacy of fierce love all woven into your mothering. Just beautiful.
I can’t say anything more than…. Beautiful.
Anything more would be redundant.
I haven’t cried at my own kids’ birthdays, but you had me on the verge of tears! Thanks for spurring us fellow mommas on with your beautiful words.
Happy Birthday Zoe! She is adorable and you look fantastic Thank you once again for sharing your heart and life with us.
Such joy is possible because you are her mother.
Oh, that smile on her precious face says, “pure joy.” What a sweet post, made my heart smile as I read it. Blessings!
Oh, wow!!! (That and tears rolling down my cheeks).
P.S. sorry, I posted this first on Fridays post (must have been the tears, blocking my vision.)
I know this heart tug of war with these wee girls. The wanting her to grow and stay tiny all at the same time. I love how I’ve gotten to read your words from the beginning of Zoe until now and how much they’ve resonated with this heart of mine. Happy Zoe’s Birthday (a day late) Lisa-Jo.
She looks like you, and I love your outfit in the pics. You look great!
This is so beautiful, Lisa-Jo!
How absolutely beautiful. What a gift for Zoe. What a gift for you. Happy birthday and God bless Zoe.