The first time I felt you move.
The first time I saw you.
Sleeping with you and nursing you as a baby.
Taking you to Ft. Rucker ER in the middle of the night with croup.
What a beautiful baby girl you were – literally. Everyone knew it – all they had to do was look at you. And then you would smile and cackle and they really loved you.
That your first word was “light.”
Singing “Five Sleepyheads” every single night for 4 years straight. Reading One Fish, Two Fish every night for at least 2 years. And I still am able to recite The Cat and the Hat for Ezra now because of you.
Moving into our first apartment together at Fieldcrest in Dothan. For the first time you had a yard to play in and we spent hours at the pool playing. For the first time I was a single mother. For the first time I had my own apartment – with you.
The night you fell into that pool upside down with a swim ring on (because you didn’t listen to me and stay off the deep end ladder) and had to be pulled out by your ankle. And I put you right back into the shallow end before you had a chance to be scared.
Your wide, scared eyes from your car seat the time I hydroplaned and wrecked on the way to take you to daycare. You never made a peep while the car was spinning, when we hit the tree (a very small one with the back bumper, thank goodness) or even after I got you out. You didn’t know what to think, so you just took it in stride and trusted me. You were 1.
The first time you ever flew. You were 2.
The first wedding you were in. You were 2.
The time you cut your hair while I napped on the couch. You were 4. I still have the hair – dated.
The second wedding you were in. You were 4.
When you broke your tooth at Aunt Maug’s and how cute you looked when you smiled with that chipped front tooth.
Being the tooth fairy.
You dressing up in Monna’s clothes for a tea-party at First Presbyterian preschool – complete with hat and pearls. I have pictures.
When you broke your ankle in kindergarten. Twice. I still have both casts.
Taking you to Disney World, Epcot and Universal Studios for you 5th birthday.
Field day, relay races and “We Are The Champions” in Miss Stevens’ class.
The third wedding you were in. You were 8.
Reading Harry Potter to you… and then you reading them to me.
Your sprinkler birthday party in our front yard.
Your first prize winning photograph.
The poem about America you had published.
Taking you and Anesia to tour the USS Alabama – and watching a live news broadcast.
Going to Dauphin Island just the two of us on Saturdays. Stopping at the farmer’s market stand on the way home.
Going to Orange Beach just the two of us. We walked along the beach and you caught hermit crabs with the other kids at night.
Mardi Gras in Mobile. I still have a jar full of our coolest beads.
That you used to ride your bike everywhere, and I let you – as long as you had the walkie talkie and stayed within its range.
All the hermit crabs you had. Well, most of them. And the other pets – Miles, Snidge… the good ones.
The second time you flew. You were 12.
Your 13th birthday party in our back yard… with the unbreakable piñata and shaving cream fight.
I know how smart you are.
I know how strong willed and defiant you are.
I know how talented you are.
I know how much potential you have.
I know how good you are.
I know because I made you and raised you. For good or bad. For both of us.
But I need you to know these things as well.
I need you to know that, at 20, your life is really just beginning. It may not seem like it, but it is. I know this because I have lived your lifetime with you. I remember it all. And I know exactly how long it takes for 20 years to pass.
As your mother, I need to know you are making the most of it. It will go by so fast and I don’t want you to take it for granted. You still have plenty of time. If you take advantage of it.