A letter to Gwen on her first birthday

Birthday girl
Dear Gwenyth, 

Tucking a very content and tired little girl into bed tonight marked the end of your birthday weekend, and I think we can say that you have been well and truly celebrated! You decided to sleep in an hour later than usual on your birthday (smart girl!) and we woke you up by all sneaking into your room and singing "Happy Birthday" to you. You loved it! It made my heart sing to see you smile and clap your hands and squeal with delight at the sight of your whole family singing to you. You continued to be delighted by everything we offered to you to celebrate your day: from the pancakes for breakfast, opening your presents, riding a carousel with Daddy to your little birthday party the next day - you took it all in your tiny stride and found joy at every turn. I think that just highlights a few of the things that I love so very much about you: you always find so much joy in life, and you are happiest when you are surrounded by the people you love. 

Grandma kisses
In turn, we all love you so very much. We've been telling people for months now that your birth marked the start of the craziest, busiest, hardest year we have faced as a family, and that much is true. Your came a week before your scheduled (scheduled!) arrival, and we have been in a state of chaos ever since. But what I have come to understand is that having you join our family at such a tumultuous time in our lives was exactly what we needed. You, my beautiful little girl, were exactly what we needed. You have set so many wheels in motion. From our decision to buy a bigger house, to knowing we needed to bring you to Norway to meet your Grandad and making it there just in time before he passed away. With only hours left of his life, you took his big hand in your tiny one and gave him exactly the thing he was holding on for. And in the difficult months that followed, you and your brother were the sunshine and joy your mama needed. You could not have been a more perfect person for our family, and you could not have come at a more perfect time. 

Presents and pajamas
Ever since you were born, you have had a sweetness about you that is your very own. You are happy and loving and interested and attentive and so delighted to be part of whatever is going on. What I think makes you truly unique is the equal measure of feistiness you pair that with. If you do not want to do something, you have no qualms about letting us know. If there is somewhere you want to go, or something you want to do, you do not give up until you get it. And more than one person has been surprised to hear how our sweet little angel baby can roar like a lion when the mood strikes! 

It's hard to say who you love the most: me, your constant source of care, comfort and silly songs, your Daddy who gets the brightest smiles and squeals whenever he's around, or your big brother Espen who you cannot spend enough time around. It has taken a while, but I think you're both starting to see the potential in each other. Espen tells me that you are his friend, and with the belly laughs he gets out of you, I know you feel the same way about him. Sometimes the two of you will hole up inside the tent in the playroom, busy with some secret game or other, and I know it's just a little taste of what is to come. In cahoots, is what you two will be!

Gwenyth Josephine North, thank you for being my baby girl. As you hurtle towards toddlerhood at the entirely alarming pace you seem to have chosen, I thrill at the little signs of the girl and woman you are one day going to become. Thank you for letting me come along on your adventures through life. Thank you for being part of our family. Thank you for making me your mama. 

I love you, little girl. 

From your Mama. 

Gwen and her mama


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