And what a lovely six months it has been

Nora turned six months old Friday. We marked the occasion by telling her, several times, "You are six months old today!" and she seemed to like that very much. A few weeks back I mentioned that I wanted to write about how much better life with the baby had become since she turned about four months old and, you know what? It's gotten even better since then.

It's totally natural, I realize, for a human being to get more reasonable as they age, even if the human being in question is only a little baby. Still, Nora's personality changes in recent months have been so surprising to me. So fun to watch. The change in me and J, as parents, is notable, too. I remember distinctly, just a few short months ago, holding my fussy two-month old in the evening, right about the time I wanted very much to simultaneously eat dinner and go to bed, and thinking "What is wrong with this child?" I laugh at the memory. "Nothing! Nothing's wrong, you fool! Two-month-old babies cry for no reason sometimes!" Ah, the innocence of my youth!

Our six-month-old barely ever cries for no reason. When she's hungry, needs a nap or is in pain, sure she cries then, but those are all perfectly normal reasons to cry, let me tell you, I've cried about all of those things.

Her existence is a more pragmatic, but also more joyful one. Nora laughs when we are funny or when we tickle her under her chin. She squeals when we lift her up over our heads, she sleeps when she is tired. She makes it clear when she is hungry, but she does not go into an uncontrollable rage, telling the world within earshot that "My parents HAVE NOT FED ME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. I have been hungry for WELL OVER TWO MINUTES and my mother has not given me her breast where is HER BREAST???"

Her reminder now is much more polite, more of an "Ahem, I think it's time to eat" than a bold overstatement.

Nora's independence has grown in leaps and bounds, as well. She plays on her activity mat in the morning as J and I drink our coffee and chat. She puts her toy caterpillar in her mouth. She puts her toy parrot in her mouth. She puts her foot in her mouth. So her skills are not that diverse, so what? She loves to learn new things and her enthusiasm sometimes inspires me not to be so complacent in my own life. She's dying to crawl, lying on her tummy and wriggling her arms and legs furiously, as though she's swimming. Not quite, I think, but she's getting there, or she's getting somewhere at least.

I could go on and on, but the basic point is that I can't believe how much better things have gotten. And I don't mean the kind of "better" where things were bad before and now they're not bad. I mean the kind of better where I finally understand that watching my daughter grow up is - get your barf bags ready - one of the great joys of being a parent, and it's only going to get more rewarding.

I wrote an email to my father recently, explaining that Nora was really enjoying the rice cereal we'd started feeding her. He relayed the message to my mother, telling her that we'd been giving Nora Rice Krispies. Not exactly, Dad. But one day, yes, and we're looking forward to that, and to everything that happens along the way.