This was the picture that was posted on Instagram:
The caption said something like, “three year olds are so so so so so so so hard. But there are moments that are magical”. Because not three minutes before I snapped this shot, while we were in the car heading to the airport, I had my eyes tightly closed as tears welled and my fingers jammed into my ears while Lucy shrieked bloody murder and Molly screamed – screamed – over and over again, “I don’t want Mommy’s water bottle on the floor! I want Mommy to have it! I want Mama! I want Maaammmmaaaaaaaa!!!” And then we parked the car, got into the shuttle, and not three minutes later here she was, still hiccuping away the hysterics but more than happy to snap a happy selfie with me.
Bygones, I guess.
These were the vacation pictures that went up on Instagram:
I wrote about vacation, but I didn’t write about how it ended. I didn’t mention the bit where Molly was running through US customs and immigration screaming “I want Mama!” over and over again and when I would try to stop her, try to talk to her, God forbid try to pick her up, her whole body would go rigid and she would slip out of my grip, screaming all the while. The part when, sitting on the shuttle bus on the way to pick up the car, I leaned over and said, Molly, I’m sorry I couldn’t help you back there at the airport, to which she shoved her hand in my face and said, “No, Mom! I don’t want you in my space! Get out of my space NOW”! and even when I started to cry, even when I told her she was hurting Mama’s feelings, there was no counting the amount of fucks she gave because there were none to be given.
This is the ice-cream date picture that went up on Instagram:
I didn’t mention that I had taken her for ice cream as an excuse to get her out of the house after a day so full of whining; so full of on and off tantrums; so full of screaming at me, hitting me, stomping her foot while tears rolled down her face while I tried with my whole heart to figure out what the hell was happening, what the hell I had done wrong, that eventually I just put her in the car because I had run out of ideas.
Three year olds are really hard, is what I’m saying.
But they are also magical.
We were at the zoo this weekend and I watched Molly stand up in front of an entire amphitheater and confidently ask, “Why do birds live in trees?” after patiently waiting her turn for the zookeeper to pick her out of the crowd. This is the girl who will tell me, “I’m feeling shy about meeting new people” before tucking herself behind my leg – standing up in front of a crowd, hand in the air, shouting, “I have a question!” until she was called on.
We can hang out now – like actually just kick it and chat and have lunch or run errands or go to the park without me worrying about whether or not she needs to be entertained or is going to have a meltdown or if I need to bring anything with me. She makes up games to play and songs to sing and stories to tell and she has a couple of imaginary friends and I lay in bed with her every night after stories and we talk about our day. She is loving and sweet and so so funny and honest and kind and still so beautiful she makes my breath catch in my throat when she looks at me.
She will say things like “I’m not being a good listener right now” or”I’m not using my words like a big girl” or”I’m feeling anxious about going potty on the airplane” or “Yeah, I’m okay with that” or “Ok-aaaayyyyyyy, Mom, jeez” and I think, who have you become?
Someone told me recently that kids never change, they just grow older. By that logic, Molly will always be a perfectly enigmatic combination of challenge and magic, drama and humor, curls and toothpaste, monkey and unicorn. And even though she may break a piece of my soul once in awhile, she will always be my sweet, brilliant, funny, amazing girl, and there will always be more joy than pain, and she will always have my whole entire heart in the palm of her hand.