I’ve spent seven years and 184 episodes waiting for the moment “How I Met Your Mother” has been building to.

Every year, there are episodes that end with a montage of heart-swelling, goose-bump-inducing music and a glimpse of the woman Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) will one day meet: raindrops, a train station, boots, a yellow umbrella. Despite how frustrating the hinting and teasing got, I’ve stuck around.

So, I’ll admit I was caught off guard when, on Monday’s Season 8 finale, we finally saw her face. We even heard her speak. (She’s played by relative unknown Cristin Milioti, above.) The real kicker is that the audience has now met the mother before Ted has.

I always imagined the series ending when Ted meets her. Maybe we saw her face, maybe not. (It still could end that way, as the show’s creators say Season 9 “will tell the epic story of the longest wedding weekend ever,” after which, Ted is to meet her.)

Maybe, now that the weight of the big reveal is lifted, the mother will rejuvenate “Mother,” which has struggled to reach the comedic heights of early seasons. We already know this story is going to end in happily ever after — now we get to see if it was worth the wait.