I know I've written quite a few times about how the latter part of babyhood is so much easier than the beginning part and I'm sure you're like, "Alright already! We get it!" I just want to say, one more time for the record, that it is SO MUCH EASIER.
I must admit, I've seen a few newborns recently - babies still in the swaddled-and-practically-sleeping-all-day phase and they are adorable. Cuddly and non-violent and willing to sleep on your chest while you read the paper. I totally get why people have more children, I mean, new babies have their perks.
Eight-and-a-half months, though? Wouldn't trade it for the world. There are some less than perfect moments, sure, like the fact that Nora sometimes beats on my face with a spoon, or pinches my cheeks and arms - hard - and when I say "Ouch!" a small smile spreads across her face without a touch of remorse. She is discovering the world!
It's all worth it. Nora is so much more of a little person than she used to be, funnier and more interactive. Her newest skill is clapping, which she began doing after getting pieces of food in her mouth on her own. She was, no doubt, copying me, as that's what I would do when she was successful.
She talks to us constantly, often babbling "da da da da da da" over and over again, not exactly referring to J but to, well, everything. The dogs, the carpet, Winnie the Pooh. Sometimes studying a cardboard book and muttering as though she is going over the latest results from that scientific experiment she did. You know, in the laboratory.
She is alternatively serious and gleeful about playing a wooden xylophone my parents bought her in Rome, her first musical instrument and a source of continual entertainment. Our trip to Italy not only gave my parents the chance to spend a lot of time with their granddaughter, us the chance to visit historic monuments and experience truly wonderful food and wine and for all of us to relax together, but also proved that traveling with our child is not only do-able, but enjoyable. I wouldn't hesitate a moment before going on another trip, although I know certain aspects of traveling will get more challenging as Nora gets older, while other things might get easier.
But perhaps the most notable change in each passing month is in me and in our family as a whole.
In those first few months, tired and desperate for the company of other mothers, for the company of anyone, I remember feeling a sense of urgency that I have now, happily, left behind.
It's no longer me and J and the baby. It's us. We are planting flowers in the backyard and going out for coffee and taking a walk. Life feels normal and easy, and I'm well rested and thinking about creative endeavors again. I sometimes miss working out of the house more than once a week and, instead of that making me feel lonely, I feel inspired. I have a baby and I also have a life besides the baby, and that is important to me.
One more thing: it's finally getting warm. We have broken free of our confines at home and are exploring the whole wide world. Or, at least, we are going for walks down by the Sound, with Nora in the Baby Bjorn and the two crazy dogs in tow. Breathing in the briny air and getting some exercise, too.
Yes, the long, cold New Haven winter is finally over. We have a well-worn stroller, there is a lot of exploring to do and we are ready to go.