Today, you are thirty-six months old. Three whole years. You are so big and incredible and WHOLE. You are a universe unto yourself. You are a child of utter joy and abject despair. You astound me every day.
You make everyone around you laugh with your incredibly expressive face, your indomitable spirit and your unique way of looking at the world. You are starting to understand the concept of a past tense, but aren't yet expert at conjugating certain verbs, so we are likely to hear about how something is "broked" or you "falled" or that you "catched" the ball and then "goed" to bed. These tiny errors are made all the more precious by their juxtaposition with what I think is an astoundingly large vocabulary and confident sentence structure. Your language continues to be one of your strongest suits, and you sound so much like me sometimes that it takes my breath away. "That's so COOL!" you shout, or when I say, "No way," you respond with "YES way!"
Your fine motor skills have taken a big leap recently, and you are getting very interested in drawing and painting and other related pursuits. You are also a whiz at jigsaw puzzles. I gave you a new batch of wooden puzzles a couple of days ago, ones that used to be mine when I was a kid. After putting them together just once, you understood exactly where each piece went and precisely how they fit together. You blow my mind with how fast you pick those things up. When you are calm - and we work a lot on calming your turbulent emotions - you can learn just about anything, incredibly fast. You've always loved to help me in the kitchen, but now you are actually helpful, as you have the attention span and the cognitive and motor skills to do the required tasks.
You seem to have bid farewell to the Shy Phase and are now a very friendly little girl. You love to interact with other children (and adults) at the playground and elsewhere. All it takes to win your affection is for another child to agree to your excited invitation, "Wanna go play on the teeter-totter?" (Or swing, or dinosaur, or slide, or whatever else your heart fancies.) In addition to teaching you about emotional stability and the importance of calm, we also talk to you about being bossy, and how most people don't like it. Usually, all it takes is for one of us to say, "Gwen, you're being bossy," and you remember your manners. For a while, anyway.
You are still having some trouble sleeping, and seem bothered by bad dreams. Last night, you woke in tears and told me that "Dada wouldn't play the game with me." I assured you that he would play with you in the morning, and soothed you back to sleep. It makes me wonder what goes on in your mind, that these are the dreams that disturb you. I'm relieved it's not something more intangible and difficult to dispel, like monsters! For the most part, once we actually get you to sleep - which can take several tucking-in attempts - you have a good sleep and wake up happy.
This past weekend was your birthday, and Easter. I had grand plans for how much hoopla I could produce based on those two events being combined. My grand plans screeched to a halt late Friday morning, when I realized that the 'off' feeling I'd been waiting out wasn't going anywhere, and was in fact a particularly nasty bout of stomach flu. Here's how you rock: I was completely unable to move off the couch, and your dad was working at his part-time job, but you just dealt with it. Sure, the living room floor was covered with a foot-high pile of toys and books and general detritus, and sure, the only parenting I did that day was to put "Yo Gabba Gabba" on repeat and make you a peanut-butter sandwich, but you were so patient and sweet and cuddly with me when I told you I was sick and couldn't play with you. And here's what else: we never made birthday cookies, or coloured Easter eggs, or had an egg hunt, or did any of the other super-mom-type stuff I considered doing for your Easter birthday. And you didn't care one bit. You loved every minute of your birthday weekend: playing at the playground with friends, spending time with all your grandparents, opening a truly phenomenal amount of gifts. While my expectations for the weekend went sadly awry, you had the time of your life. And that is what matters.
There's a lot of uncertainty in life right now, Gwen, and in a weird way you've become my rock. It's supposed to be my job to teach you what life is all about, but I think these days I'm learning a lot more from you than you are from me. Like how to appreciate the small wonders of the world, and not get too bothered by the rest of it. Like how to remember what really matters.
Gwen, you are the most amazing daughter a mom could ask for, and I'm so glad you're my daughter. I love you a million billion fajillion ... and THREE.