Ten. Double digits. It hardly feels possible that today Zoe Margaret is ten years old. I always read back over what I’ve written the girls for their last few birthdays, and today was no different. Two years ago, Zoe was a mess of anxious nerves. It occurs to me now that some of that was tied up in the upheaval of our home life at the time. Last year, I was working on giving up some of my control and being ok with sharing parenting time with Steve. Zoe was learning to do the same. It’s been a weird few years, and I feel like we are just now getting to the point where things are back to normal. It’s a new normal, but things are evening out for all of us nonetheless.
Zoe remains feisty and strong willed. She isn’t afraid to stand up for what she thinks is right – or more often, what she thinks is wrong. She doesn’t mince words, and sometimes for me, that means listening to Zoe, walking out of the room to gather my thoughts, and then returning to respond. I’m learning so much through Zoe about communication and about the power of being able to sit in silence with strong feelings. Those are some of our hardest times, and I am certain they will only get harder as she gets older. It’s very important for me to value Zoe’s emotions, and to give her space to get frustrated, or angry, or sometimes even overly excited and happy. This morning when I tried to wake her, I said, “Zoe! Get up so you can open a present before school!” and her reply was, “Mom! I am ADUSTING MY MIND!” Zoe feels things deeply, and I never want her to feel like that’s not ok. I know that suborn streak in her will eventually be what keeps her going on the hard days.
Zoe has always been a funny kid, but this is the year that she started watching old SNL episodes. Perhaps not my finest parenting moment, but she has started doing stand-up routines in the living room, and she really gets humor. She’s wickedly funny and isn’t afraid to crack a joke to lighten the mood. Zoe loves Moana and Beauty and the Beast as much as she loves Alice Cooper and Hamilton. She’s a complex kid, and I love that she never makes excuses – she loves what she loves and that is that. Zoe is creative, always looking for ways to repurpose and reuse materials to make art. If ever there is extra cardboard in the recycling? Zoe snags it for a project. Last week, she turned an old skull mask into a “Beast” mask – hot glued yarn for hair, and all. And it was awesome.
Two years ago, Zoe’s anxiety about vomit and sick people was out of control. Anytime someone was sick at school, I would get a call from the nurse that Zoe was also “sick”. If someone got sick when we were out in public? Forget it. The fun ended there. I only mention that because this year for her birthday, she wanted nothing more than Owl Pellets. OWL PELLETS ARE VOMIT. She talks about nothing more than dissecting these little pellets of puke. I should probably be more surprised by this, but I’m not. In fact, nothing surprises me about Zoe. She is as soft and snuggly as she is sharp and witty. She is curious. She is kind. She is a dog whisperer. She makes our home a better place to be, just by being there – even on the days when she drives us all crazy. I’ve said it a million times before, and I will say it a million times again. Being a mom has changed me in so many different ways. My children came in and made the dark places in my heart brighter. They continue every single day to teach me things, about myself and about the world around me. I mean, who even knew owls vomited up cool stuff you can dig through? Happy Birthday, Zoe, thank you for being my little fish.