Saturday, March 11, 2023

A Letter to Maren on her 3rd Birthday

 Dear Maren,

You’re three years old today. With each milestone we reach, all of the collective moments from the time you were born feel like they flash in front of me. What words could possibly be enough to describe you just as you are, right now? The most magical age. So full of personality and full of life. The kind of little girl that, when I was pregnant with you, I would have said, “I hope I have a daughter just like her one day”.

Your hair is long and blonde and something you’re fiercely attached to now with your new discovery and love of Disney princesses. Flashes of mischievousness or twinkles of happiness radiate from your blue eyes, and I can’t help but laugh along with you when you giggle at something you find funny. Your favorite things are playing tea-party, restaurant, building magna-tiles, reading books, and painting. You say you want to be a soccer player when you grow up, and the suggestion of a ballet class led you to calmly explain that it would make you “way too dizzy”. Your vocabulary blows anyone away, but it always has. Years ahead of your time, you’re asking me how things are spelled, point out the color "indigo", and demand to do your own homework alongside of your brothers at the end of each school day. You can count to 30, have known your alphabet for about 2 years solid, know all of your shapes and colors, and point out letters and numbers. Potty training was the easiest one day exercise of putting all the diapers away when we came home from a trip to Finland and you never had an accident and you never looked back. When you introduce yourself to anyone you spell your name out for them: “it’s  M-A-R-E-N” you say, which is impossibly adorable. You asked about the “earthquake in Ukraine”, mixing up your news stories, and jam along to Oskar’s favorite song “Renegade” by drumming out the base line. You’re braver than your brothers were and fearlessly talk to strangers, rattling off stories about school or toys or TV shows as soon as you meet them.

Your days start with the sun in a new big girl bed of which you’re incredibly proud. Still a 6am riser, but with your growing independence and your biggest brother’s exact same sleep schedule, the two of you have become two peas in a pod. Oskar and you creep your way downstairs in the mornings to wait for us to drag ourselves out of bed.  Most days you’re in school and complain about having to go but then always report that you had a good day. You play house and babies with your friends and somehow always make everyone else be the dad or the dog, demanding to be the mom in charge. You’re a strong personality with your peers, always wanting to be the boss and not always loving to share. You tell me “I’m a big strong girl”—something I hope you always feel, though it wouldn’t kill you to fork over the toys to your friends every now and then. We’re the luckiest to be in a neighborhood full of kids and being able to grow up with the little girls around you will make for the best childhood memories--running from yard to yard and playing imaginative games--the way every childhood should be. You’re still a good eater for a 3 year old and love oatmeal, mashed potatoes, salmon, carrots, and any kind of soup. You’re always willing to try something new and love to share whatever we’re eating. You love Peppa Pig and frequently tell me you’re “going on holiday” or that your pretend restaurant meals cost “6 pounds” or that you need to wear your “swimming costume” for the pool. You’re also able to rattle off Minecraft characters and know about every show your brothers watch, not to be left behind for even a second. August is on the precipice of outgrowing the things that unite you, but for now, your combined imagination and make-believe games are what I’ll look back on and remember most of all at this age. The both of you in costume or playing with your kitchen, emersed in a world far, far away, I’ll hold in my heart forever.

The last remaining trace of your baby years is the way you soothe yourself, by twirling and intertwining your fingers into my necklace while I hold you. Your two fingers on your left hand get popped into your mouth simultaneously and you’re instantly calmed—the magic my chain holds over you. You’ve demanded for your stuffed animal elephant to wear a gold necklace to bed too, an instant middle-of-the-night way to get yourself back to sleep.

This birthday is a traditionally tough one for me. Three whole years, a baby no more. It’s especially hard with our last and final; our miracle girl who completed our family. As sad as it is to have this time slip so quickly through my fingers, what an absolute joy it is to have the most brilliant and beautiful child. A healthy and vibrant girl who learns and plays and grows and is becoming a little person who continues to bring the most joy to our family. I always ask you before bed, “Do you know how much I love you?” and you tell me, “So much!”. To the moon and stars, kiddo. Happy 3rd birthday.



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