Thursday, March 10, 2022

A Letter to Maren on her 2nd Birthday

 Dear Maren,

The last time I wrote you a birthday letter, we were still home, quarantining, and staying safe from COVID. We were starting to get ready to turn a page, and it finally, finally feels like we have. We’ve slowly and cautiously made our way back into the world, and it feels like such a weight lifted to be able to not worry so darn much anymore. To live an almost normal life with you as my little sidekick—never, ever far away from my leg or my hip, a mama’s girl, through and through.

Words can’t express how much happiness you bring us all. As sad as I am about you getting older, this is such an incredible age. Your speech is at an absolutely astounding level, with you rattling off paragraphs on end. Hearing you narrate your life through your words is just so fun, and we laugh 100 times a day about the things you say. Some of my favorites:

Waking up at 5am, whispering directly in my eardrum: “What do you want to do downstairs?”

“Dada is going to work to take care of sick people with bananas and crackers.”

“Mama, come here and snuggle buggle!”

“A quarter? What the heck is a quarter?”

Me: Are you a beautiful little girl? You: No! I’m Maren Josefine!

Pointing at the dead fish at the seafood counter, wide eyed: “It’s baby shark.”

My heart explodes when I see you giggle, or chatter, or take your brothers by the hand to boss them around in whatever game you’d like to play with them. They’re both so patient with you and love to make you happy even when you demand everything that’s theirs, from toys to food to mama’s attention. You’re the perfect endcap to our family. Everybody’s favorite.

Your sleep is still terrible, but it’s funny how perspective changes with the last baby, and the fleeting moment that this feels like in the grand scheme of things. You’re up through the night, crying to come into our bed, and somewhere along the way we cave in and grab you and tuck you in between us where you snuggle up and eventually fall asleep. You’re off to school on most mornings and always tell me you don’t want to go and that you “cry all day”, but your teachers assure me that you’re happy and play right along with all the other boys and girls. The dramatics.  At drop off you always remind me, and your teachers, that “Mama will ALWAYS come back”—such an emphasis on the ALWAYS, and that this most certainly is a temporary situation, just so everybody knows it. You know your ABCs, your colors, and can count to about 15, and then randomly jump around to 20. You’re so interested in homework and tests and pretend to do yours along side of your brothers after school.  When I pick you up you gallop to me (literally), and jump into my arms, ready to go home.

Our biggest challenge this year has been all of the daycare germs. The constant runny noses, ear infections, quarantines, and stomach flus. We’ve been through the ringer, and none of it was even COVID. Hoping that we get a little bit of a reprieve from the worst of it as we turn the corner to spring.

You traveled to Finland over Christmas which was, by far, your biggest adventure. Aside from the jet-lag that never relented, you did so well, even with bumps in the road (like a 4hr 15 min delay on the tarmac that nearly did me in). We’re getting ready to do it all over again + a stop in Norway in just a few short months this summer, so fingers crossed that you’ll repeat your overall A+ performance.

A whole new world of play has opened up to me after two boys. You love baby dolls and to rock them, push them in strollers, or pat them to sleep. You love coloring and painting and spend so much of your time laying on your belly on the floor with a big piece of paper and a handful of markers, doodling and drawing with the pencil grip of a kindergartner. It’s truly amazing. You love climbing into my lap to read books with your favorites on repeat. Going on a Bear Hunt, The Gruffalo, and any fairy tale get gold, silver, and bronze. Above all, you love to play downstairs with your brothers, running between the trampoline and some foam climbing blocks, yelling at them to do just what you want.

You nursed until 16 months, but stopped on your own, and became disinterested enough to never ask to nurse again. You’re still such a good eater and love nothing more than salmon and mashed potatoes. We’ve slowly taken you out to restaurants, and you’re so fun to go out to eat with because you like everything. Relishing these days until the picky toddler phase inevitably begins.

Your hair is so long now and gets comments from everybody. Still so blonde and a little bit wavy, up in a ponytail every day to keep it out of your big blue eyes. You ask for a “piggy tail” when it’s down, my favorite thing. Another surprise of having a girl is your absolute tyranny over what you wear, which absolutely must be pink and must be hand selected, if we can even manage to get you dressed at all. “Pajamies” are your favorite, and you call them “comfy cozy”, flat out refusing to put clothes on most days without some serious round-table talks. 

You’re most often found on my hip with your two fingers in your mouth, holding my necklace with your other hand. My necklace is your biggest security blanket, something you reach for all throughout the day and demand for me to put back on if I ever dare take it off. Sweet and endearing unless it’s at 2am.

You’re napping for 2 hours at school but put up a heck of a fight to do the same at home, with me having to lay with you in my bed to get you to fall asleep at all. I’m toast already. You’re in your crib to sleep at 8pm after a half an hour of reading and 25 rounds of "Wheels on the Bus" and protest for 10 minutes or so by yelling at me to open the door before laying down and falling asleep on your own.

I feel so incredibly lucky that we had this chance to have you, our last baby, our daughter. Life feels so full and so complete, and watching you grow is one of the greatest gifts of my life. You’re such a vibrant, happy, smart little girl, and your ponytails and chubby cheeks will be etched in my brain and heart forever. Happy 2nd birthday, sweetheart (even though I know you’ll tell me, “I’m not sweetheart! I’m Maren Josefine!”). We all just truly love to love you.      

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