Seven years ago today, I was feeling pretty miserable. I was a week overdue with a pregnancy that had been a long slog, and I’d developed a cold that kept me up in the wee hours. My midwife prescribed me antibiotics and Tylenol PM, and I went to bed that night hoping to get a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, Gwen entered our lives like a superhero, with one little fist raised in protest. She’s been our little fighter ever since.
Gwen is our wild child, our goofball, our daredevil. Her imagination knows no bounds, her stories are endless and filled with dramatic delights. Murderous villains, triumphant superheroes, bullies, and best friends. One day she’s a puppy or a kitten or a bunny rabbit, and we’re hard-pressed to convince her to break character to do mundane things like eat or do chores or homework.
She builds amazing things out of LEGOs and plays with them for hours. She eats ketchup on everything, and by everything, I mean one of the three foods that’s currently in her Acceptable Foods rotation, which changes on a daily basis. She’s her big sister’s best friend. She loves to be tickled until she can’t breathe, and then she’ll catch her breath and beg for more.
Gwen does everything with gusto. Sometimes her love is so fierce, it physically hurts. She throws herself into my lap like a canon ball, squeezes tight with her arms around my neck like a vise. She’s loud; we have yet to find her volume control switch. She’s told me she’s meant to be a monkey who lives in the trees, that she’s too wild to be contained in our house — then she says, “I’m not a nature girl” when I tell her to go outside and play.
Gwen is the kid who makes me laugh when I’m not supposed to laugh, who makes me question everything I’m doing as a parent, who brings me to the edge of patience and tips me over just to see how I’ll react. She learns the hard way, over and over and over.
She’s the reigning champion of the time-out corner.
Her hair still smells a little like it did when she was a baby. She still reaches for my hand when we cross a busy parking lot. She crawls into bed with us and tucks herself under Tim’s arm, and her face still shows faint traces of babyhood when she sleeps. She still has my whole dang heart.
Happy birthday, Guinevere. May we survive your tenacity so it can serve you well, as you do all the big, dramatic things you dream up.