Saturday, October 5, 2013
Dear Sweet Zoey,
As you can tell, Mommy has let time slip away from her in writing in your book. This has absolutely nothing to do with you or a lack of you doing anything amazing or saying something funny.
On the contrary—you do incredible things every day. And I guarantee that I notice each and every single one. Like how you fill a room up with happiness simply by smiling. Or how the other day at Target, you sat down, took your shoes off, and ran down practically every aisle barefoot and laughing like it was the best thing ever. Or how lately you’ve been afraid of the dark, and you hold my hand for reassurance as you fall asleep.
No, I haven’t written in your book because of you—it’s because of me.
Zoey, I hope to teach you all sorts of important lessons in life. Here is one of them: As beautiful as life is, and as incredible as each day is, life is also tough. When you get older, you will learn this in different ways. Sometimes it is just hard to find time to do things no matter how badly you might want to do them—and that is okay.
While God’s time—the time that ticks away each day—goes quickly, and maybe makes it hard for me to find enough time to write in here on a regular basis, please know—and always keep close to your heart—that your momma always takes close note of the Kairos time in our lives each and every day, the time that stands still:
When you wrap your arms around our sweet dog Dexter and tell him he is your best friend…
When you come up to me with your pants still on but your diaper is off, and you tell me, “It’s wet and not good anymore….”
When your chatter fills the room so well that when you stop talking there seems to be such a void…
When your stubbornness shows me just how strong of a woman you will be…
When you tell me you love me so much and it stops me in my tracks and makes me take a minute to stop and love you as hard as I possibly can…
Zoey, I am in the business of creating things. It’s what I do every day when I go to work to provide for us, it’s what I do to show you that you can do anything, it’s what I do to make sure you will have every opportunity in life you possibly can have.
But know this: There is nothing I could ever create that could ever come close to what I created with you.
You are magnificent and incredible and astounding. Please don’t ever forget this. And while I might miss a day or a week or a month in here, I am never missing out on appreciating and recognizing the beauty and love and joy you bring to my life every day.
You are a gift, Zoey.
* * *
Even though it has been almost four years since those words graced the pages of one of the many journals I once kept for my daughter Zoey, I still remember writing them: I’d fallen asleep putting her to bed that night, and I had woken up in the darkness of her room, unsure of where I was or what time it was, panicking that I had overslept and that I’d be late for work. But then I remembered: it was Saturday, and there I was, folded into Zoey’s toddler bed, contorted in a way that an adult-sized body certainly should not be in. Life had been so busy, and I had been so tired that I’d regularly been falling asleep with her at night like this. And falling asleep like this meant that I’d gotten away from writing in Zoey’s journals—an activity I always did at night to document all the fun things she’d done or said that day. I had been writing in them regularly since she had been an infant, and it made me so happy to do it, but I was increasingly frustrated with myself that I hadn’t been better about it lately.
Next to me, Zoey sighed and rolled over. She was such a light sleeper that I decided to lay there for a few more minutes, hoping that it would give her enough time to settle back into her slumber. As I moved to get up, Zoey lifted her head. “Mommy?” she asked, her voice thick with sleep.
I laid back down and starting gently rubbing her back. “It’s still nighttime, peanut,” I said. “Go back to sleep.”
Zoey rolled over, grabbed my hand, and used it as leverage to pull herself closer to me. She placed her head on my chest and then filled the remaining space between us with soft whispered words, words I might have not have even heard had I not been paying attention: “I love you so much.”
Tears sprang to my eyes as I squeezed her fingers. “So much,” I said, hoping she would hear, but her deep, heavy breaths told me that if she heard them, they were swirling around in her dreams. As I lay there, thinking of Zoey’s words and listening to her sweet nighttime noises, I knew I needed to remember this moment.
I fumbled down the hall in the dark—salt water still heavy in my eyes—and I found my way into my office. I pulled down her journal from where it sat up high on a shelf—the journal with one with too many blank pages and too many lost days—and I began to write. I let the paper first capture my tears, and then—with every quick pen stroke I pressed into the pages—my words.
* * *
I’m at the grocery store with Zoey, and she is sitting in the front seat of our cart. Her tan legs dangle down the front of it, and she is tapping her sandals against the metal—back and forth, back and forth—and with each tap, little lights appear on their soles. They appear to be dancing in harmony with Zoey’s hysterical laughter.
She’s laughing because, as usual, we are being silly.
Zoey shakes a handful of coupons at my face. “They’re expired! They’re no good, Mommy!”
“What?!” I gasp. I snag the coupons out of her hands, tear them in half, and toss them back toward her in feigned exasperation. We’ve been doing this for 15 minutes, and Zoey can’t stop laughing. The non-expired set of coupons I have are sitting, forgotten, on our kitchen table at home. But I really could care less: I’d rip up expired coupons and listen to Zoey’s laughter over saving a few dollars any day.
We make our way to the cheese section as we continue our little game. An older woman is there, and she reaches for a bag of shredded mozzarella as I pick up a package of sliced cheddar.
“Here’s one for cheese!” Zoey exclaims. “And guess what, this one is still good!” She triumphantly waves a coupon side to side.
The lady looks over at Zoey and smiles. “Do you like helping your Mommy?”
Zoey smiles back. “Of course,” she answers. “It’s the best. I love it.” And then, as she switches her gaze to me and spreads her arms open wide: “I love you. So much.”
I love you so much… I close my eyes for a second and all of a sudden there I am, sitting at my desk, furiously inking those same words on the pages of Zoey’s journal on a cold autumn Saturday; there I am, hearing those words as she curls up next to me and breathes them into my skin; there I am, thinking those words as she takes her first steps toward me and again when says ‘mama’ for the first time and again when she has so many other of her ‘firsts’; and then there I am, whispering those words to her after she’s been gently placed into my hands for the very first time.
A gentle squeeze on the back of my arm brings me back to the present, and then here I am, standing in the grocery store next to a stranger, staring at my almost 6-year-old as she sits there in our cart, grinning from ear to ear.
“I remember when my daughters were that age—so young, so happy, so full of life,” the woman says. “But then, in the blink of an eye, they grew up.”
I switch my gaze from Zoey to the woman as she keeps talking.
“It goes by so fast,” she says knowingly. The woman gives my arm one last quick squeeze. “I’d tell you to soak it up, but from the looks of it, I think you already do.”
“Yes,” I nod, still talking even as the woman starts walking away. “I do. Because it’s the best. I love it. And I love her. So much.”
Again, I think back to those journals I kept for Zoey, the ones that hold thousands of words—words of a life, stories of her journey, letters of my love—ones that I haven’t written in in years. But then I think of my blog, the one that has become a way for me to document our days, a way for me to help remember moments like these. Just like Zoey’s journals, it has become a gentle reminder to not blink and let all of this beauty pass me by.
* * *
“Okay, Zoey, where to next?” I ask, starting to push the cart again.
“The baking aisle! For stuff to make cupcakes! For my birthday next week!” She’s so excited she’s practically glowing.
“Well, wait are we waiting for?” I say as I begin pushing the cart faster.
“Close your eyes with me, Mommy!” Zoey squeals, squeezing her eyes shut as we pick up speed.
I lean over and cup my hand underneath her chin. Her eyes flicker open as smiles at me. “And not be able to see this face? No way, José,” I say. “I’m keeping my eyes open.”
“Suit yourself!” Zoey closes her own eyes again and tilts her head back, laughing and soaking up this unexpected delight.
Here we are, in an ordinary grocery store on an ordinary day buying ordinary things (except of for the makings of cupcakes for a certain someone’s 6th birthday, of course). But it’s moments like that are the ones I will—and want—to remember. So these are the moments that I will keep writing about, and because of that, when our memories fail us, we will both be able to look back and see that amidst the ordinary, our lives became extraordinary, all because we kept our eyes open and paid close attention to the everyday beauty, wonder, and joy—all the good stuff—that surrounded us.
* * *
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Dear Sweet Zoey,
As you may know, Mommy stopped writing in your books years ago, but this has absolutely nothing to do with you or a lack of you doing amazing things.
On the contrary—you’ve been doing incredible things since the day you were born, and I keep doing my best to notice each and every single one. Like how you still fill a room up with happiness simply by smiling. Or how the other day at Target, you started dancing down an aisle as you sang “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” and after you convinced me to join in and we bumped our hips together so hard I nearly fell over, the laughter that followed was the best thing ever. Or how the other evening, during a late night thunderstorm, you traversed the dark to come find my hand for reassurance that everything would be okay.
No, I haven’t written in your book because of you—it’s because of this little thing called life.
Zoey, since the day you were born, I’ve been trying to teach you all sorts of important lessons, so here is another one of them: It all goes by so fast. In the blink of an eye, everything changes.
It seems like it was just yesterday that you were being placed in my scared, shaking hands. It seems like it was just yesterday that you took your first steps and said your first word. It seems like it was just yesterday that your two-year-old voice cut through the darkness of your room to tell me how much you loved me.
But it wasn’t.
Because tomorrow, after I wrap you up in my grateful, open arms, after I smother you with a hundred kisses, after I stand back and hold you at arms length to take stock of all of your breathtaking beauty, I will smile and say, “Happy 6th Birthday, sweet girl.”
I told you once that life is tough. And it is. But life is so much more than the hard times that we sometimes have to withstand. Life is beautiful and incredible and such a precious gift. So let’s make the most of this time we have together, okay?
While God’s time is moving quickly—faster than ever before—please know—and always keep close to your heart—that your momma continues to take close note of the Kairos time in our lives each and every day, the time that stands still:
When you give yourself a high five and say “Good job, girl!”…
When you make me stand outside your dressing room while you try something on, and you tell me, “Oh yeah, mom, you’re totally going to have to get me this one….”
When your chatter fills our home so well that when you leave there is a Zoey-sized void, one that waits patiently for you to come back…
When your tenderness shows me just how gentle and compassionate of a woman you will be, and already are…
When you tell me you love me so much, and it still stops me in my tracks and makes me take a minute to stop and love you as hard as I possibly can…
Zoey, I am still in the business of creating things. It’s what I do every day when I write these words, hoping that one day it may provide for us in ways I’ve only begun to dream about, it’s what I do to show you that you can do anything, it’s what I do to try to provide you with every opportunity in life possible.
But although these words have become something quite incredible, there is still nothing I could ever create that would ever come close to what I created in you.
You are magical and lovely and so full of grace. Please don’t ever forget this. And behind every word and every story I write, I am here, appreciating and recognizing the beauty and love and joy you bring to my life every single day.
You are my most precious gift, Zoey.
Think of something wonderful that happened this week that you don’t want to forget. What is it? What can you do to make sure you remember it? And can you think of something that feels like it happened just yesterday, but that actually happened years ago? Share it with us, and tell us why it’s something you remember so well.
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.