The exact source of the phrase,“I wish I could quit you,” is fuzzy in my memory, but the sentiment frequently streams through my mind as a parent.

This has never felt easy to me, but four is hard, and feels hard-est in fact, at least compared to whatever else my brain has held onto from whatever preceded this, the seemingly impossible present.

My daughter’s feelings are so big, so strong. I want to be able to hold them for her and find routinely that I can’t. My feelings in response to hers are so big, so strong, that the field in which they meet becomes a battlefield, one in which, under these circumstances, no one is winning.

At the end of a day of single-parenting this spirited, sweet, imaginative, stubborn, creative, loving, sassy, and often incredibly rude and angry child, I want to simultaneously curl up in a ball, scream, throw things, thrash violently, cry, and submerge myself in a pool of warm water (in which I might perhaps scream some more).  I love my daughter more than life itself, which, if I explore the meaning of, really means that now that she exists in my life, there is no life without her. And a world in which she might no longer exist is not a world I want to live in, despite the fact that mothering her is quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done and, thanks to this experience, I will be quite satisfied if I have just this one go at it and leave it at that.

It’s so intense. All of it. The love, the struggle, the exhaustion, the wanting to do better, the anguish of not, the joy, the gut wrenching everything. It’s more than I have words for. Clearly.

I recently participated in a breath work group, during which I laid on the floor, in essence, breathing and sobbing among a roomful of others doing the same. It was wonderful and comical. It was uncomfortable and awkward. I had done it before and will do it again, because, for me, there’s nothing like grieving with a room comprised mostly of strangers to feel wholly connected to myself and humanity.

But I digress.

While lying in that space, resting in all of the beauty and discomfort of the moment, my mind, seemingly out of my control (one goal of this particular practice) went to the day I labored, preparing to give birth to my child. In that memory, I watched in my mind, as my daughter moved out of my body and into my arms – and in that moment, one that is etched into being, I recognized her. I looked upon the face of my child and immediately forgot about the struggle and intense pain of moving her through my body. I saw her and felt this strange, wondrous sense that I had always known her – this little piece of my being, entering the world tied with a string to all of my hopes and dreams and bits of myself begging to be a part of something greater.

And so she is. She is like me but not. She is a part of me and living absolutely of her own accord. She is four going on sixteen. She is a magical unicorn and she’s awful to be around. Sometimes the absolute worst. But she is also unapologetically herself, a force to be reckoned with. And I am glad to have been reminded that I knew–as soon as I saw her face, as soon as I held her in my arms–that she would be.