When I was a young mother, I remember a specific afternoon sitting in our house in Deerfield on the couch...just Jill and me. She was about four months old, and had finally gotten over the colic (a real buzzkill to motherhood if there ever was one). The house was quiet, and David was not home yet...so it was just the two of us. What I remember most is that we sat there that afternoon...is how she watched me with those beautiful blue eyes and just smiled and laughed. I have burned that memory into my heart and mind's eye...and can still recall how her little face looked at that point in time. While I loved her from the first moment I held her, I can honestly say that it was at that moment that she truly stole my heart.
As time went on, she grew into a strong-willed toddler and on to a preschooler with long blond hair and enough energy to light up a room...or destroy it. She would twirl in circles to make herself dizzy and would then sit in the floor and laugh hysterically. She had a cute little raspy laugh that was hypnotic, and eyes that watched intently to make sure that I was watching her. It was in my best interest to be watching...so most of the time I was.
Years later, groups of girls ran through the house and out to the pool squealing and laughing. My girl was usually right in the middle of them. Sometimes, I'd end up driving them around somewhere so that they could safely play "Chinese fire drill" as we listened to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" or AC/DC at high volume. In my rearview mirror I'd see the braces flashing as they'd sing along. It was either my music, Nelly, or something equally heinous like the Backstreet Boys...so I introduced the girls to "real music."
When she was in 9th grade, I saw her face light up when she was given special treatment by her 11th grade Powder Puff coach. He ended up being a part of her life - and ours - for the next couple of years. I have dozens of pictures of them smiling and just enjoying being young. She and her best friends would laugh and dress up and do crazy things like head to Blockbuster with their hair in a gazillion ponytails...or something equally tacky. I just remember catching a glimpse of her beautiful smile as often as I could (compliments of Dr. Chapman and some large amount of money that I've tried to block from my consciousness).
During Rush (now called "Recruitment" but whatever) she walked out under the Phi Mu letters with her beautiful pledge sisters and I was smiling so much my face hurt. She looked at me from across the crowd and I had another moment of connection. I know that all daughters need to be free to choose their sorority...and that there are so many legacies that it is even difficult to have that as a benefit...but when they choose yours...it really is a moment that is uniquely special.
Now that she no longer lives under my roof, I've found that what I really miss the most is hearing her laugh...and seeing her smile. I know that she has excellent friends, sorority sisters, and has met some incredible people in Tuscaloosa. But I miss my girl. Text messaging is fine for mundane things like reminders or information exchanges...but I really love is when I get a call and I can see her smile in her voice. Times like that are magical.
I know that in time, some young man is going to come along that makes her laugh and sees her beautiful blue eyes and finds that she has captured his heart...just like she captured her Mama's heart twenty years ago. I know that he will be special because we've been praying for him for many years. And I have a feeling...call it "Mother's Intuition" that one day when I ask him when she is most beautiful he'll say..."when she laughs."