- Bringing her home from the hospital. She had scratches all over her face from whatever it was she was doing in utero, and she was swimming in that 3 - 6 month outfit...and I was aghast that they let us take her home when we clearly had no idea what we were doing.
- Middle school. Because the middle school is around the corner from the elementary school where I was teaching at the time, I promised her that I'd drive her to school instead of putting her on the bus. My husband predicted that it would never work, since I'm a non-morning person. Three years, no tardies and some of the best car conversations ever.
- Swimming lessons. The first set -- the ones that seemed to work for all my friends' kids -- didn't take (that's a whole other post). My husband wisely suggested private lessons and I foolishly argued that would make her more nervous. You can tell from the adverbs who was right. The kid now swims like a fish.
- Sleepovers, NYC weekends and beach trips. My daughter has excellent taste in friends, and the girls who stayed over at our house were, almost without exception, positive temporary additions to our family. When my daughter got older and wanted to take a friend to the beach, or to celebrate her birthday with a trip to New York with a friend, we knew more really would be merrier.
- Basketball games. From our perch in the stands, these were sometimes more stressful than fun (also a whole other post) but one thing held true. We always loved watching her play.
- Playing on the floor. Whether it was Barbies or Polly Pockets, these playtimes seemed interminable some days as my to-do list scrolled through my head. Fortunately, I was smart enough to know that these times mattered and would be gone all too quickly, so there I sat, taking orders from a three-year-old about which dolls could wear which outfits. In hindsight, I have no regrets over laundry that went unfolded or tasks that lingered. I can still look at my twenty-year-old's bedroom floor and imagine her preschool self and I taking Polly Pockets on their adventures.
- Her three weeks in England. I still remember this as the longest three weeks of my life, bookended by a terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and the attack on the bridge/market in London a few weeks later. Putting her on that plane days after a bombing at a concert tested my calm Mom aplomb more than almost anything else in her life, but she was determined. "Mom, if I let everything scare me, I'll never do anything." While that attitude was impressive, it was only when she landed safely in London that I relaxed -- a little. But the phone call right before she came home -- the one where she was running around London trying to get change to do her laundry, while sounding as though she was right next door -- was the thing that finally made me smile.
- You nebber know, Mom, you nebber know. I don't remember how old she was when this gem emerged, but these words of wisdom from a preschooler at the end of a long day still crack me up more than fifteen years later.
- Leah and her car. Last spring, we finally had to replace my daughter's first car -- a hand-me-down from her dad that she loved fiercely. Amid the expensive imports and sports cars some of her peers drove, her red SUV looked more like a fairy tale stepsister, but that car will always be her Cinderella.
- Back to school shopping. An annual tradition, one that got a little short-changed this year because her time at home this summer was fragmented, this remains one of my favorite ways to spend the day, and I remain immensely grateful that she wants to spend the day with me.
As I write this, these memories intermix with the ones that make it clear she's undeniably not that little girl playing Polly Pockets anymore. Instead, she's a poised young woman giving a PowerPoint presentation about her internship....a confident coed leaving us behind at Penn Station, heading across town to catch her train at Grand Central....a daughter demonstrating role reversal as she picks up up at the train station instead of vice versa....
....and the confident twenty-year-old -- definitely not a toddler -- driving herself back to Connecticut.
Maybe we knew a little bit more than we thought we did way back when we brought her home from the hospital. But I'm also certain that she taught us a thing or two along the way.