I lived quite a… well… full life during my 20s (one that was completely different during the second half than it was during the first). There was house-buying, work traveling, serious-relationship navigating, baby nephew-spoiling…and then marriage and stepkids and college completion and… all that stuff that sounds like the stuff of grown-ups. Before it actually happens.

I don’t feel like I really became a grown-up until my first baby was born. With no offense to the bonus kids or my dear sweet husband or that piece of paper that said I can teach high school, carrying Miranda, giving birth by emergency C-section, nursing, driving her BY MYSELF to places like THE STORE made me feel like a grown-up.

That child, she is destined to be the definer of many things for me. I don’t know if that’s appropriate or healthy, but I know it’s true. She marked the end of my barrenness. She made my last big uncontrollable dream reality (the others are all up to me). She was the first to call me Mommy, to need me in a primal way. I often think she loves me more than anyone else, and scarily so, at her age of 3, I sometimes think she knows me better than anyone else.

I know this will evolve, just as she does. Last week was her third trip to Nashville to “help” Daddy make a CD. We stayed in the same hotel we did her first time there, when we captured these:

and were at the same studio, where we took this:

I remember so many details of that trip in April 2007…certain clothes I packed for her (the black shirt above read, “My Daddy is a Rock Star”), the way she tried to scoot across the floor on her back, how darn happy and comfortable she was listening to music for 6 hours a day.

In some ways, she is not different. She still knows what she likes. She still finds ways to get where she wants to go:

She still brings magic, chaos, and all-out indescribable goodness to my life.