Tomorrow Zoe turns 13. Being 45, I’m entering the demographic that often says “age is just a number”. 13 is not just a number for me.
It’s a poignant reminder of how time flies. She’s 5 feet 7 inches, comparatively physically mature and emotionally complex.
I look in her eyes and I still see the baby with complete trust as I carried her from adventure to adventure, curled up in my warm arms. I can still feel the girl who jumped into my arms when something scared her knowing that I would protect her. I still reach for the girl who I tickled into giggle fits that had us both laughing to tears.
I am learning how to love who she is today. It’s a continuous game with ever changing rules that I’m not always able to keep up with either because I don’t know how or I don’t want to. Thankfully I’ve caught up most every time.
However, I’m in conflict. I have a deep knowing that I will always be the #1 man in her life in one regard. There are few if any women in my life who don’t want the love of her Dad more than anyone else.
My experience is the women who know they have it seem to love more freely and boldly. When I talk about my love for Zoe with them there’s a grateful recognition of something they have.
They aren’t “broken” if they don’t have it or even capable of free and bold love. However when I talk about my love for Zoe their aching desire for that love is unmistakable.
I know as a teenager I’m not her “go to” and I bet I’m her “return to” because she knows it’s always there. She’s going to do what teenagers do. And yes, I will probably be a hypocrite at times with her given my colorful teenage years or worse my later years. That scares me.
I have to trust that like God has my back in my life, God’s also got hers, and so do I. I have her back no matter what.
Sit down with me for 2 straight days to describe to you how deeply and fiercely I love her and it would fall short. It falls short because my love for her finds places that I can’t consciously touch.
And as she moves into the teenage years I know that I will keep finding new depths and ferocity. Today, however, I am grieving a bit for the passage into the teens and today 13 doesn’t feel like just a number.