Have You Seen My Daughter?

Have you seen my daughter? She has blond hair, hazel eyes, and sports a mischievous smile. She runs, plays, and laughs with the pure glee that childhood is made of. She is the apple of her mom’s eye and faithful playmate to her sister. One night, we sat down to celebrate her third birthday. The next, she was gone.

I expected it to come. Riley took a hiatus from herself around the age of two. Her body remained. Physically, she was present, but what remained was not my daughter. Similarly, this blond-headed child who sits in place of Maddie is not her. It screams. It yells. It makes unreasonable demands and then quickly changes them to even more unreasonable demands. She screams when I drop her off at school and refuses to leave when I pick her up. No activity is fun and no food satisfactory. This isn’t a three-nager. This is a two-year-old.

But how can that be? She just turned three. It seems she forgot that the twos were to be terrible and employed them just now. Telling her that, however, meets deaf ears. Hands on her hips, she is righteous in her unreasonableness. Hands on my head, I breathe and remind myself that this is a phase and wherever the real Maddie is, she is safe and hasn’t changed.

I do see glimmers of my girl from time to time. An “I love you” here and snuggle there. She’ll come back. I know that she will. But, if you see her, tell her to hurry. Her family misses her.