Six months old

Dear Anya,

This month you’ve been working really hard. You’ve gotten really good at staying in a sitting position without falling over. Of course, with your sister pushing you over on a regular basis, you’re not getting as much practice as one would hope. You’re on the verge of figuring out how to get into that position on your own and then it’ll be a free for all with you dragging yourself up to sitting and then Lily gleefully pushing you over. For some reason yelling, “STOP!” at your sister has no effect whatsoever, so I might actually have to get up to keep her from trouncing you. At least you’ll be buff by the time you can attack back… she’s making you work for every last step.

You’re also making amazing strides in crawling and before I know it, I’ll have two monsters to chase. Yesterday, Lily made it all the way out to the car (which was parked on the far end of the parking lot) before I realized she was missing. I can just see where this is going once you get seriously mobile. Lily will be making her hourly trip to the car and you’ll be cruising down the canyon to go find the coyotes. Wait, it’s more likely that Lily will be feeding you to the coyotes while I yell, “STOP!” ineffectually from the top of the hill.

It’s not that your big sis doesn’t love you… she just loves you so hard. The other day I mentioned that I needed to go get your jammies and get you ready for bed. Lily ran off to the bedroom and was back with a clean, warm pair of jammies before I knew what hit me. I praised her for helping and she pushed me out of the way, insisting that she could change your diaper and get you ready for bed on her own. I think she wants to be your mama and is having a hard time accepting that the role is already filled. At least she’s making sure I don’t leave you at the park or anything. “Where’s Anya!?” She’ll holler if she doesn’t happen to notice you ridding on my hip as we make our way out to the car. So you see, she does love you. Remember that when she’s trying to control your life and you want to push her over.

I am learning to sleep with your breath on my face. It used to be that I could put you in the open crib pushed up to our bed and you’d sleep silently there for a few hours, waking after midnight for num nums. The minute that I put you away from me at night now, you wake and brush your face back and forth on the sheets, searching for my skin, mouth open and needy. I can still get you to sleep in the cradle upstairs, but within the month you’ll have this sitting thing mastered and it won’t be safe to stick you in the cradle anymore. And while I long for those hours of sleep, free of skin to skin contact, I am in love with the look of your face as it turns to me in the middle of the night. Your round moon cheeks, perfect rose mouth, insanely long eyelashes and paper thin eyelids are a map I can trace perfectly, knowing every turn and every warm flush. Last night I stared at you for what felt like an hour, just watching your mouth work in num num dreams and your little hands flutter up next to your face, startled by some unknown worry. It is true poetry to watch your own child sleep. It makes your heart ache in ways you could never imagine. You and Lily, you made me a better person. You opened up my heart and made me care about what happens next. You both taught me how to savor a moment. You taught me how to fall in love a thousand times a day. You taught me that there is nothing more perfect than a curl of hair around a toddler’s ear or the curve of your hand as it reaches for my face.

Thank you for sticking around this long. I can’t wait to see what the second half of your first year will bring.

All my love,