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My Wild Toddler Has Transformed into My Little Friend

My daughter, Adeline, is almost 4 and full of personality. Always an entertainer, she's the member of our family of five who's always the quickest to put on a song and dance anytime she has an audience. Life is Adeline's stage, a constant series of opportunities in which to insert her own brand of drama.

And that she does. The toddler years have not been easy. Her Terrible Twos were just a test run for what we experienced when she became a threenager, a rather lengthy stage in which her emotions have yo-yoed between pure joy and utter meltdown.

But as Adeline nears her fourth birthday, I see that thriving personality of hers blossoming. She's become more confident and has a true love for being at my side. She loves helping to fold the laundry. She delights in assisting me in the kitchen when I'm making dinner. I see signs of her investing her thrill for drama into a love of storytelling. Her creativity flourishes as she spends hours creating projects and coloring pictures every day.

Trips with Adeline to the grocery store or Target, which were once stress-inducing adventures, have become not only manageable but fun experiences that I look forward to. Suddenly, she's turned from a toddler into a pint-sized grown-up, who makes intelligent comments about the fruits and vegetables she prefers, and when browsing through an aisle of shoes, knows exactly which pair she likes the most and which pair she wouldn't be caught dead wearing.

I've started to plan my days not around how I can do something without Adeline in tow, but with her. This summer, the farmer's market has already become a weekly opportunity to spend time together. We pick fresh Georgia peaches, big cantaloupe and bright red tomatoes to enjoy for the weekend. On the drive home, we talk about what we will eat first and what each family member will like best.

I can't pinpoint when this transition actually happened—it seemed to occur overnight. Suddenly, the tiny toddler girl who needed me to help her with everything or make choices on her behalf has turned into a mini version of myself—a little woman with strong opinions about a variety of topics. Oh, Adeline is still a passionate soul who can move from putting on a rousing ballet routine to falling onto the floor in complete devastation at the blink of an eye, but those moments are becoming less frequent.

More importantly, in between those moments, I see small glimpses of what it might be like to have a grown daughter and best friend. And while the thought of that can get me emotional, it also reminds me of why each and every moment with Adeline is important, a constant series of opportunities to cherish and empower my little girl's story.

While Adeline likely won't recognize this until many years down the road, each moment that I get to share with her impacts my story, too. Mothering her is such a gift and even in the trying times, I know that her fingerprints on my life are molding me in unexpected ways. My hope as her mother is that both of our stories will constantly grow and become better through the time we've shared together as mother and daughter, as buddies, as friends.