Dear Missy,

Wow, here we are, three years old. That went fast. I didn’t write to you on your second birthday. I started to, but never finished it. This probably typifies the last two years. It has been fast and difficult and joyous and wonderful and rewarding.

Related: A letter to my future daughter

You have grown into a funny, clever, kind person. A person who goes out of her way to make others laugh – the other day at ballet you kept pretending to slip over during an “ice skating” routine, just because you thought it was funny. You have grown into an opinionated person – already showing signs of being just as argumentative as your mother, which should make the teenage years fun. You are a risk-taker, a caring friend; you love babycinos and “going to the pub” (which I think is just because of pasta and ice cream, but your ongoing references to “going to the pub” – particularly when playing at childcare – make people laugh). You are obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. But six months ago it was Peppa Pig.

You love ice cream and spaghetti and toast with jam.

Every single day you surprise me. Your vocabulary is incredible. You can write the first letter of your name. You were toilet trained not long after turning two. If you’re left to your own devices at breakfast time, you will try to clear up and wash your own face and hands. You are incredible. You remember things that happened weeks prior – we can’t get a single thing past you. You will not be hoodwinked!

And, if it’s possible, I love you more than ever. Every single moment I’m away from you I miss you. I hate being robbed of time that should be shared with you because I’m all too aware how precious this time is. I know that the cuddles, the kisses, the requests to “play with me”, the puddle jumping, leaf collecting and the strolls down to the local cafe are not going to be around forever. I try to make the most of them.

And then sometimes we fight. Yes, there are tantrums. Sometimes because a sock doesn’t match. Other times because you didn’t get your own way. Getting dressed is always a struggle. Or you could just have a drop of water on you – you lose your shit at that. Some days it’s hard and you would prefer the company of your dad when I’m around. And that’s OK, we have days like that.

You love your dad to bits. Crying if you and I dare to get home before him on a childcare day. Waking him each morning to make you your breakfast. You definitely don’t play favourites. In the mornings you lie between us, put an arm around each one of us and pull us close to you, sometimes with an, “I love you guys”. And we love you.

You are a warm, funny, loving person. You do things your way, on your terms. You came into that world that way.

This year has been a tough one, but having you with us has made it easier. And though you’ve been a whirlwind, you’ve been challenging and confronting as you go through your toddler years and begin to assert your need for control and independence, I wouldn’t change a single day. Watching the person you are becoming is an absolute privilege, and every day I think about how much I love being a mum – your mum. And I still feel like such a new mum. Three years on and it still feels like such a new, raw, honest and wonderful experience. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring us. Travel, sunshine, ice cream, happiness, and you.

Happy birthday my love.