As I sat here this morning, searching my heart for Mother’s Day fodder, I realized something.
Twelve years of motherhood has yielded some wonderful photos. So I am going to share some of my favorites with you:
November 2002. This photo was taken when Zoë was about 3 weeks old. I laugh every time I see this photo, because I just wanted a cutesy photo of her in that adorable hat…but she wasn’t having it. She screamed and cried for what seemed like an hour, but in reality it was probably only about 34 seconds. So I just told her dad to snap the photo….and I’m acting like nothing is wrong. Hey, I might be able to master this mom thing after all. Boom.
December 2002. This was my first night out with friends after having Zoë. She was 2 months old. It took me 2 hours to do my hair, and then I stayed out with my friends for about 47 minutes. In my mind, Zoe was crying endlessly because the milk was gone and her dad had fallen into a deep sleep, all while the house was burning to the ground. In reality, when I got home they were both sleeping. But thank God my hair still looked good.
July 2003. Zoë is on the tail-end of her middle-aged man comb-over, and my tay-tahs are still where they belong. Le sigh.
July 2004. My bestie Kristin, Zoë, Zion and I. Zion is just days old here. I love this photo because I am blissfully happy. And also blissfully unaware of the challenges that lie ahead.
December 2004. This was my favorite Christmas ever, I think. I loved this stage of the kid’s lives, my grandparents were still living, and I truly loved being a mama. This was the last Christmas we shared together before the immigration fiasco.
Late 2006. This photo was taken around the time that Zion was diagnosed with autism. Zoë is 3 here, and Zion is 2. Even back then Zoë was so sweet and loving to Zion, caring for him like a little mama.
Spring 2007. Zoë dressed herself like Punky Brewster. Of course, she has no idea who Punky Brewster is. And then Auntie Boo and I realize how old we really are. Meh.
September 2007. One of my favorite photos of all time.
October 2007. This is the first time Zion ever looked directly at the camera for a photo. He was 3 years old.
November 2007. Zoë is clearly less than thrilled in this photo. I missed her 5th birthday because I was at an immigration interview with her dad in Mexico. This photo was taken 3 days after her 5th birthday, at a last minute birthday bash thrown at That Fun Place. She was not impressed. I however, think this photo is a friggin hoot. (Hey, life happens.)
October 2008. Zoë’s 6th birthday. This is where I redeemed myself for the 5th birthday. We had a wonderful evening at her favorite restaurant with family and friends. To this day, this is one of our favorite memories. And this photo of Zoë, my sister and I is one of my favorite photos of all time.
October 2008. Same birthday. Exhibit A of why we couldn’t get any photos of Zion for about 4 years. This is also one of the only photos I have of my mom and my grandma together.
January 2009. The Z’s with their cousins. I l-o-v-e this photo. I was so proud of Zion for looking at the camera. (Framer!)
June 2009. Zion’s 5th birthday. There are certainly better photos of this party, but this is after most everyone had left, and he took off with Mike’s sunglasses. He thought he was hot stuff. This is also a wonderful memory of Zion realizing how to make people laugh, and enjoying it.
Late 2009 sometime. Love this photo of Zoë and my seester. (Auntie Boo)
May 2010. Zion had been in ABA therapy about 6 months. Not sure what is going on with the gang sign hands.
Summer 2010. This is a side by side photo comparison of my dad and Zion, both at age 6. Note how Zion looks like the cat from Shrek in this photo.
October 2010. Halloween. We bought a Spiderman costume for Zion, but he wasn’t having it. At the last minute, Zoë’s friend Amaya saved the day and took her trick-or-treating with her family. Zion had been in ABA therapy for about a year, but was still not ready for this holiday. And that’s okay.
October 2011. Halloween. Zoë as Michael Jackson, (blurred) and Zion as Mario. Zion did not participate in the trick-or-treating, but he kept the costume on for almost 30 minutes. (Score!)
October 2012. Halloween. Zoë as Pocahontas, and Zion as Mario, the sequel. This year we actually got him to wear a fake mustache, so Zoë is posing a mustache of her own with her finger. This was the first year Zion went trick-or-treating door to door, although he did bust into a neighbors home when he found out she didn’t have any suckers. Also a wonderful memory. Thank God that neighbor had a sense of humor.
July 2013. Indiana State Fair. Zoë and I preparing for the Tilt-a-Whirl. This is her scared face. And yes my hair always looks like that.
Summer 2013. Our second trip to the beach in Grand Haven, Michigan.
Summer 2013. Zion’s last day at his former ABA therapy center, with my favorite therapist of all time, Brett.
Summer 2013. OMG how I love this photo. We had just finished a family photo shoot downtown, where Zion was a complete poop and wouldn’t smile or cooperate much at all. We had to cut the photo shoot short, and decided to stop at a Mexican place for dinner. I held up my camera and said “smile!”, which Zion did immediately. Zoë’s face is priceless.
December 2013. Having dinner at the Locker Room before our first Pacers game. Zion chose to make this face for some reason, and I am so glad he did. I adore this photo.
October 2014. Zoë and I at the Rock on for Zion fundraising event.
If you were reading this on paper, it would be tear-stained.
Life has been amazing, and beautiful, and heart-breaking these past 12 years.
If you had told me 12 years ago all the poop I would be cleaning up, both literal and figurative, I wouldn’t have believed you.
But then again, if we knew ahead of time how the story would end, we probably wouldn’t read it.
This may not have been the path I would have chosen for myself, but it is the path I was given. And I wouldn’t change a thing about the way the details of my life have made me into the kick-butt, mama bear fighter that I am today.
It has been a fantastic voyage so far.
And I sure do love my tour guides.
Happy Mother’s Day.