Motherhood & Words

Happy birthday to my sweet Zoë, who turned six yesterday. (SIX!) We celebrated with a dinner out last night and cupcakes, and this weekend she will have two parties (one for kids and one for family), so I’m getting into crafting/piñata/cleaning mode.

My little Z is a dancer. As soon as our house fills with a thumping beat, she’s off, twirling, leaping, sashaying across the floor. She could spend hours (and sometimes does) choreographing a daughter daddy dance with flips and spins, ordering Donny around and running back to the computer to start the song over “just one more time.”

She’s fearless in the water, diving to the bottom of the pool pretending to be a mermaid or running full speed down the dock at the cabin and flopping into the lake (regardless of how cold it is).

She can get under her sister’s skin, pestering for attention. But if Stella agrees to play (and Zoë follows Stella’s rules), they can spend hours in their room, setting up their doll school rooms, teaching math and art and science to those attentive American Girls.

She’s fiercely loyal. If Donny or I have scolded Stella, she’ll glare at us and go straight to her sister. “I love you, Stella.” And if we’ve scolded Zoë, she’ll turn again to her sister: “I only want Stella.” (I’m glad they have each other since we are clearly such ogres.)

She’s a ham and loves to make people laugh. I can imagine her on the stage—she’s able to mimic anyone’s facial expression and loves accents, which she slips on as she flounces across the room.

She’s a cuddler and will climb up onto my lap as soon as I sit down in the comfy blue chair or on the couch, sometimes falling asleep in my arms if it’s bedtime and we’re watching a movie. She still comes into our bed a couple nights a week, snuggling between Donny and me, then throwing off all our covers because she’s burning up, my little hot pocket.

I love this girl, who is funny and sweet and smart. Happy birthday, Zoë!

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Andria on March 6, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I love the line: “I’m glad they have each other since we are clearly such ogres.” HA!

    Happy birthday, little Z!

    • Kate on March 6, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Thank you, my dear! And yes, I should have included an ogreish photo of Donny and me in the post.

  2. Sue LeBreton on March 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    You do a great job of letting us see Zoe and her joie de vivre. Makes me want to flounce across the room again 🙂

    • Kate on March 6, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Oh Sue, I know you can flounce. We’ll practice together! Madeline Island????

  3. Sue LeBreton on March 6, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    I am a maybe for MI. I adored it last year.

    • Kate on March 7, 2014 at 9:31 am

      I would love to have you there again!!

  4. Andrea on March 7, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Lovely! What a sweet tradition to memorialize this moment in your daughters’ lives each birthday. I hope you bind them all up in a book to give them when they turn 18!

    • Kate on March 7, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Oh Andrea, I love that idea!

  5. Marta on March 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

    Oh Happy Belated Birthday Zoe! I started the tradition of writing a birthday letter to my kids a few years ago when I saw someone else do it and I absolutely love it. Capturing who they are in that moment and what we love about them!

    • Kate on March 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you, Marta! And I just read yours, as well, which is so lovely! Happy birthday to our sweet peas!

  6. Nina on March 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Happy birthday to sweet Zoe! I loved this snapshot of her.

    • Kate on March 10, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Thank you, Nina!!

  7. Kristen @ Motherese on March 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    What a lovely portrait of your daughter at this moment when she’s poised on the edge between little girl and big girl. I suspect you’ll both be very grateful to have this written record of the girl she was at six.

    Happy birthday, Zöe!

    • Kate on March 24, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Thank you, Kristen! Yes, I love that we’ll be able to look back on this and glimpse that little girl again!