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If I made a list of the perfect moments in my life, this would be one of them:

My husband and I had just brought our first baby home from the hospital, and I was on the phone with the pediatrician’s office to schedule a newborn checkup.

I told the receptionist, “I need to make an appointment for my daughter.”

My daughter.

I didn’t expect to be saying those words. Even all these years later, I can still remember how saying them thrilled a piece of my heart that I didn’t know was waiting for anything.

My husband and I didn’t find out ahead of time the gender of the child who would make us first-time parents, but I was sure I was having a boy. Which delighted me, because I’d watched my surrogate big sister experience the joys of having a baby who had her husband’s middle name and a fondness for Thomas the Tank Engine.

Having a boy was the dream I’d dreamed, and it’s still a dream I wish had come true.

But when my doctor announced, “It’s a girl,” a different kind of dream came true. It was a hope I hadn’t quite let myself wish for.

When you have a daughter, you have someone who reminds you of what you loved in the past and but shows you new things to love in the future.

When you have a daughter, you have someone you actually almost hope will blow out of her outfit three times a day because you have JUST SO MANY adorable clothes you want to put her in at least once before she moves up to the next size.

When you have a daughter, you have someone who might someday call you her best friend, and it’s the best kind of best friend because she’s seen you at your absolute worst and loves you anyway. (Also, her forgiveness, when you are unlovable, can usually be bought with warm chocolate chip cookies or a Starbucks’ venti-something.)

When you have a daughter, you have someone living in your house who understands your emotions the way none of the men who live there can even hope to, bless their hearts . . . even if they wanted to, bless their hearts.

When you have a daughter, you have someone who answers the question, “How was your day?” with a 10-minute monologue filled with implied exclamation marks, accompanying hand gestures, side stories, back stories . . . all to communicate, “It was fine.”

When you have a daughter, you have someone who replies to your “I’m going to the grocery store” text with the question, “What’s wrong?” Because she suspected from your lack of emotionally positive punctuation and accompanying emojis that something is, in fact, wrong. And she is, in fact, right.

When you have a daughter, you have someone you can watch dance . . . whether she does that dance on a stage in ballet shoes or on a field in soccer cleats.

When you have a daughter, you have someone who, when you are looking at a shirt on the clearance rack at Target and wondering if you like it, will come out of the dressing room and tell you, “No, Mom, you don’t like that.” Which is a little disappointing, because you were thinking maybe you did like it, but at least now you know.

When you have a daughter, you have someone you see across a room one day and think, “Who is that lovely, tall, grown-up girl?” And then you realize she is your lovely, tall, grown-up girl.

Someday, I might make a phone call and say, “I need to check on alterations for my daughter’s wedding dress.” Or I might tell my friends . . . and the cashier at the grocery store . . . and anyone else who will listen, “My daughter is having a baby.”

And if those things happen, my list of perfect life moments will get just a little bit longer.

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Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

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