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My Arya is 3 today. I was buying ice cream for her party last night and almost started crying because I can’t believe that she’s already 3. My baby is growing up, and I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing little person she has become.

She was my most difficult pregnancy and hands down has been the most challenging personality. She fights me on everything every day and has done so since the day she was conceived. I very quickly learned that she was going to be running the show. We are all just players in Ary’s game.

But despite all the tantrums, all the crayon on everything except paper, all the tape that has been emptied, all the water messes, and the very real possibility that she will never be fully potty trained, she is so dear to my heart because she loves as fiercely as she fights. She has the remarkable ability to frustrate you to the point of pulling out your hair in one moment because she got chocolate on the couch after eating a brownie that she snuck before dinner to making you melt in her hands the next moment when she offers to share the coveted brownie with you, shining big blue eyes full of love into your angry scowl.

She is forever bringing laughter into our house with her shenanigans and hilarious whit. She may keep me on my toes, but I wouldn’t have her any other way. Although there is at least one point in every day (but usually much more than that) when she screams at me because I said ‘No’ to something, not a day goes by without her telling me, “You’re a good Mommy”, while cradling my face in her tiny, trusting palms.

Every year around her birthday, she always gets extra needy and clingy with me. The last couple years I dismissed it because the first year we were moving across the country around that time and the second year I was 9 months pregnant with her little sister. But this year it’s happening again and there is no big life change for me to blame it on. After thinking on it, I’ve concluded that she can sense that she’s growing up a little more. And in true Ary fashion, she fights it. She’s never been one to do anything unless it was her idea. So she stubbornly clings to me, refusing to grow up until she’s good and ready. A part of me wanted to get irritated by her intense clingy-ness; I have my hands full after all, with 3 kids 4 and under. But then I stopped and thought about it, and I realized that I am her safe haven. What an honor! So I will happily be her Neverland where she can escape from the demand to grow up. I will carry her down the stairs though she can walk down them on her own, hold her hand everywhere though she has long been steady on her feet, and let her bear hug me for 10 minutes straight though I have dishes to clean. And when she’s ready to turn 3, I’ll let go of her little hand and watch her continue to evolve into the earth-shattering, mold-breaking, utterly unique, beautiful, and explosive person that she is. But I will always be here for her to hide in when she needs to take refuge; and she knows it.

I love you, Arya Kinlie! You are the strongest there is.

Ary's Collage

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