It’s 2:31 p.m. and I know any minute, I’ll see her gray SUV in my peripheral vision, the slowing vehicle catching my eye in the window to the right of my home office desk. I’ll turn my head, and see her signal blinking. She always signals (and always yells at me for not signaling when driving).

And, I’ll get excited because this girl always brings energy and light and life into my life. She’ll have stories. She always does.

Sometimes I’ll hear her music thumping, but more often the first thing I’ll hear is the door open and her enthusiastically greeting the dog in a high falsetto voice. “Hey, Sammie. Hey, there’s my best boy. How’s my Sammy? You brought me a shoe?! Thank you! You’re the best dog.”

Then, she’ll yell, “MOM! HELLO? ANYBODY HOME?”

I’ve been home since March of 2020, but she still always seem surprised to find me here.  I’ll yell down, “Hey…how was school?”

She’ll drop all of her stuff — all of it – shoes, coat, books, purse, keys — on the kitchen counter where I have told her for a dozen years to stop dropping all her stuff, and she’ll already be talking a stream as she walks up the stairs to tell me, in great detail, about nearly everything that happened during the day.

Sometimes I get annoyed because I don’t really want to hear a 13-minute story about some random kid from school when I’m just trying to finish a brief for Science News, but she’s hard to ignore. And, soon I’m drawn in; the girl is pretty engaging. I know more about her classmates’ lives than they could ever imagine.

If I give her the floor, she’ll talk for hours, bracketing each story with….”What else happened today? Oh, yeah….”

She’s a lot. Noise. Energy. Emotions. She’s not always in a good mood or nice. And, whoooboy, when she’s mad, she’s mad.

There was a little girl

There was a little girl,
            Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
            When she was good,
            She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

It’s like Longfellow knew Lauren.

But after awhile, you learn to love her despite the (thankfully, rare) storms, maybe even in part because of them. Who doesn’t love a good summer thunderstorm, after all?

She’s a lot, that girl. She’s been a lot from the beginning, when she nearly demanded to be born at Waldameer Park, walked at 8 months, potty trained herself before her 2nd birthday, and insisted I take the training wheels off the bike when she was barely old enough to touch the ground.

lauren with tongue out

Cut to last night — Senior Night at the first home meet of her final swim season and I’m standing in a hallway holding  maroon and gold balloons and roses, waiting to present them to my girl, who will walk through two rows of clapping teammates and meet me with both tears in her eyes and a giant smile on her face, evident even behind the mask covering it.

It’s been a weird-ass year.

At first, I start to tear up, too, but then I see her — I mean, I see her. I know this girl….this joyous, amazing, incredible girl that I helped get here…to this point…to this finish line (one of many). And, magically, the tears and the lump dissolve because there’s nothing really to be sad about.

Lucky.  Lucky is how I feel to be her mom. To live in her light.

She’s a lot, that girl.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.