Growing up in Zoe’s room

Harley with busy board

When I was a very little girl, my mom was good friends with a woman named Diane Ponzio – they were childhood friends. I remember her teaching me singing when I was a kid, and she even wrote a song about me. It’s called Zoe’s Room, and it’s been in my head lately. When I drive around with Harley, I often sing to her, and it’s funny which songs come to mind. After a booking for our family to go to Greensleaves (a medieval restaurant experience), I kept singing the song Greensleaves in the car. Now, it’s Zoe’s Room that’s stuck on repeat in my head, and it’s making me smile and also think about my goals for Harley.

There doesn’t seem to be a video or anything of Diane singing the whole song, but I did find this extract so you can get the gist of it:

The lyrics are lovely, you can read them over here. It’s that whole idea that I had so much more freedom and experience than she did growing up. I had a room filled with books and toys, could speak my mind and be heard and acknowledged by my mom, that I was actually excited when I heard my father was coming home. I could talk about wanting to be president, or an astronaut, or an actress, and every dream was given the same amount of credence and attention.

Several years ago, I actually had a conversation with my mom about childhood. I don’t remember the context of the conversation, but she said something along the lines of “does anyone have a happy childhood?”, to which I responded that I did. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty damn close. I was safe and never doubted that I was loved. We had fun family traditions, and silly ways of interacting, and I have some incredibly amazing memories. It’s something that I hope to replicate as much as possible.

At the moment, Harley doesn’t really have a room. Her cot is in our open plan kitchen-dining-room-lounge area, and that’s fine. Part of our goal with moving is obviously to get a bigger house, a place where she can have her own room. Once that happens, of course I want to fill it with books and interesting toys. At least we have books and toys and a swing for her here, it just isn’t in a dedicated room just for her.

But it’s about more than the room, it’s about the freedom and attention and love. I want Harley to always know how much I love her. I want her to know that I will always take the time to listen to what she has to say, that her words have value and deserve to be heard. I want to encourage her to be a free thinker, a free spirit, to find her own way of doing things. I want to show her as much of the world as possible, expose her to all kinds of experiences, people and ways of life. And I want her to always feel safe and secure, to know that I will always be there for her, will always be her safety net.

I remember my mom and I would laugh when I was little. She would say or do things that would confuse me, and she would put on a funny accent and say “one day when you’re a mother, you’ll understand”. We used to joke about it, and I truly never understood. But now… now I am a mother, and it all makes so much more sense. I am so amazed at what she did for our family when I was little, that she created Zoe’s Room, that she created such an amazing, exciting, loving and safe place to grow up. I only hope that I can do as good a job with my family.

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  • Melissa Javan

    What toy is that in the first photo of this blog post? I found out about my cousin’s bad childhood with her parents- eisj – so I agree with you on the one of having a happy childhood. Happy and safe are important. I’m no longer underestimating it after I heard someone else who had an unhappy environment as a child. I wish Zoe the happiest and safe childhood.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      It’s actually a custom busy board that Harley’s godparents made for her for her first birthday – how cool is that?!
      And yeah, it’s when you realize the alternative that you understand the importance of giving your kid the best possible upbringing.