Time flies by in the blink of an eye.
We know this. We are told this, from the instant we announce we are pregnant. We are told this even more frequently once our babies arrive, as the days slip into weeks, and the weeks into months, years. We are told this as if we didn’t notice, as if this first year of our babies’ lives didn’t already feel like it slips through our fingers like grains of sand.
You are six months old. Six months, half a year. I find myself wondering where the last six months have gone, where the entire month of January has gone. I was there for it, I know I was, I lived it – but now we’re coming to the end of January, we’ve hit that six month, half-year milestone, and I feel like I have no idea how we got here.
The words I picked as my guiding meditations for this new year, 2017, were stillness and cherish, and both of them were inspired by you, my darling. Parenthood – being working parents – slams you into hyper-drive. Every moment requires an action or a task from us, we are constantly preparing or anticipating or reacting or recovering. It’s easy to buckle down and really just barrel through the days, to just get our blinders on and do what we have to do without thinking about it.
And yet here we are, our baby is six months old, half a year old – it has been six months since the day you were pulled from my belly and placed on my chest, and I cannot believe it. I see you growing and becoming this sweet, funny little girl, and I don’t want to miss a moment. I want to snapshot every second with you and store it away forever, because you are six months today, and soon you will be a year, six years, sixteen years. I will always look at you and think of that little fairy baby laid fresh and screaming on my chest.
So I am focusing on stillness, I am focusing on cherishing each moment with you, each moment with your papa, of all of us together.
I find stillness in my moments alone with you, especially those moments that could be easy to dislike or resent. 5 AM is early, and it feels especially early day after day after day. I admit I can be reproachful when you first wake up and start fussing or talking to wake me up too – but that reproach never lasts long. You coo and you giggle and hum to yourself, and you are so darn precious, I can’t help but smile to myself as I lay in bed, urging myself to get up and get moving. I roll over to talk to you and assure you I’m getting up, and you just grin that gummy smile at me, so pleased that I’m awake and talking to you. It reminds me that these days may feel early, but they are fleeting.
I love taking you from your bed and seeing your eyes crinkle up in a smile as you realize, this is it, it’s time to get up! You burrow into my chest, still sleepy, and your little hand clutches at my shoulder, you settle into your mama’s chest and arms. I whisper sweet things to you, good morning, baby, did you sleep well? Did you have good dreams?
You mumble and buzz and chatter as we make our when to the den, as I fumble for music or TV, a lamp, a glass of water. We settle in to nurse for the first time, and you are so content and grateful. It is the best nursing session of the day, you don’t wiggle or fuss or pull away or kick, you gaze up at me with those big, dark eyes, your long lashes. Outside the big den windows, the sky slowly lightens from darkness to greyness to a shallow blue that lightens and deepens as we nurse. Even if I am tired, even if I am already cataloguing what all I need to do before I can rush out the door to work – I make myself stop. I remind myself to cherish this moment of stillness, to appreciate your papa snoring on the couch, Kitty curled up on his feet, you my daughter needing me and only me in this moment, your little first bunched in my shirt or on my breast, your luscious little lips, your pert nose.
Your papa and I have begun cataloguing all your little tricks and traits and habits, these little things that make you you, that make you our Ariadne Grey, and not just some generic baby.
I love it when she does that grin-pause-wiggle-wiggle-grin-grin, I tell him, that bobble-head grin, you know what I mean?
I love it when she’s already smiling at something else, he tells me, and then she swivels her head to smile at me, she’s smiling the whole time.
We love it when you kick-kick-kick your legs in excitement, we love how you press your little feet together when you sit idly watching, your toes grasping on to your other foot. We love your giggles that grow in frequency, we love how often you laugh. We love your big round belly and your cute little bottom, your birthmark above your booty and your stork’s bite on your neck. We love how much you love music and someone singing to you, we love all your nicknames – Ari, Ari Fairy Girl, pumpkin pie, angel babe, monkey girl. We love how you’ve started to buzz your lips and blow raspberries when you’re starting to get mad and are irritated with how long it’s taking us to fix you.
You growing up so quickly is bittersweet, it pains me because you are such a precious, happy babe; such a snuggly, rosy-cheeked angel and we would keep you this way forever. And yet we love watching you develop, it’s so cool to see you start to reach for books and toys and understand they’re yours. You’re working on sitting up, and we play games with you in the evening, sitting you between our legs, or with one hand light on your back, seeing how long you can sit up by yourself before you start to slump. You continue to love bathtime, and now that sitting up is easier, you love to lounge in your sunflower bath cushion in the sunk, kicking your legs to make splashes, grabbing your toys, watching as Papa and I pour little streams of water on your arms or your belly.
You’re starting to enjoy things that you disliked for a brief spell, and that’s making life a bit easier. The car seat isn’t a torture device anymore – you might still fuss if you’re over-tired or hungry, but for the most part, car rides are pleasant again. You’re a very sensitive girl, this we have known all along, but you’re starting to tolerate crowds and being in public better. We have an easier time taking you to the store with us, your papa and I have both managed a couple solo trips with you now, and although it can be frustrating to be slowed down, we love it when people come up and tell us how precious you are – we firmly agree. You’ve been to an art gallery reception, you’ve been down to an art studio downtown – you continue to be so observant and alert, and places like that give you so much to look at, so much to see.
You’re beginning to tolerate being worn again, which makes me so happy. The month or two that you refused to be worn in the Moby wrap or the Tula carrier were frustrating to me – I’d so looked forward to being a babywearing mama that I was disappointed when you hated it for a while. But you love being worn facing forward in the Moby for longer periods of time, 30 minutes to even an hour. You can reach and touch and kick-kick-kick your legs, and that’s your favourite. You’ve even let me wear you in the Tula for shorter bits, which I love – I love having you snuggled up against my chest, the Tula is easier to put on and more comfortable, and so pretty. Even your papa has admitted now that he’s starting to feel more comfortable taking you places by himself, he may even start learning how to wear you himself.
You are undoubtedly a daddy’s girl these days. Your papa barely has to sneeze or blink and you’re giggling at him. Where’s that baby gone, he’ll whisper, looking right past you, anywhere and everywhere but at you, where’s that baby? Do you see that baby? You cackle and giggle like it’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. Your ideal situation, I’ve noticed, is being held safe and sound and snuggled up in my arms or lap, with Papa right nearby to entertain you. You need your mama for safety and security and creature comforts, and you need your papa for silly noises and songs and entertainment. Time together with all three of us is such a rarity, so often your papa or I have you alone. We cherish the few evenings that we get to be all together, your papa cooking in the kitchen, David Bowie or Raffi (what a combination) stations on Pandora, you in my lap or in the carrier as we play and sing and dance, messing with Kitty and helping Papa where we can.
I feel so content with my family life, these days. There were days, years ago, that I craved action and adventure and excitement. I wanted to go out, I wanted to have a big time. I wanted to be in the public eye, I wanted to be noticed, I wanted to be known. I worked for the weekend so I’d have freedom to see people and do things and act a fool, let my wildness out. I know those days aren’t completely gone from my life – but what a little luxury it is to come home at the end of the day. That’s all that I want, and all that I crave – I am completely fulfilled in being home with you and your papa. How sweet it is to soak up your smiles and cuddles, how sweet it is to just sit in stillness holding you as you sleep. How sweet it is to work together with your papa to cook dinner and feed you and get you to bed and switch over the laundry and pack up your diaper bag for the next day and listen for your stirring on the baby monitor – and then, at the end of the night, lie snuggled up on the couch with your papa, to feel like we survived another day, and managed to keep you warm and safe and healthy and happy and loved, just as absolute much as we could. At a time when the world is scary and getting scarier, we are grateful that for now, at least — we are all warm and safe and happy and healthy.
Your papa and I whisper together, almost guiltily, as if we don’t want to be overheard – maybe we’ll change our minds in 2 or 3 years, maybe we’ll feel differently, but right now, we can’t imagine ever wanting another child. It’s true – we are assured by many people that we will change our minds, and we’re reminded about all the negative connotations of being an only child – and sure, we’ll probably change our minds, eventually. But right now, we are so enraptured by you. We are so delighted in being your parents. There is no room in our hearts for anything more. You are such a charming, easy-going, joyful little baby, and we are utterly contented to have you in our lives.
All my love,