Yes, Internet, I have a six month-old. Nobody ever tells you how quickly they grow up.
I'm kidding, of course. Everyone tells you how quickly they grow up. You just don't believe it right at first. "The days are long, but the years are short," they say. Right at first, I'd tell myself that the nights were long but the years were short because I needed to reassure myself that we wouldn't be up every two hours for the rest of my life. I wondered right at first how it was that anyone ever voluntarily had a second baby.
But the months are short.
From about three and a half months to four and a half, Jo slept through the night almost every night. She's only done it a handful of times since then, thanks mostly to the cold that would not end, though travel, learning to roll to her belly, and what the internet tells me are likely sleep regressions around four and six months played in as well. But still, I'm typically back to sleep in under an hour and sometimes much less, unlike in the newborn days. And thanks to a new pre-nap routine and a little gentle nap training (the Pick Up/Put Down method) she generally takes two good naps a day. Not today, mind you, but generally.
For a while there, I was spending a lot more of my day trying to get her to nap than she was spending actually napping. This led to some of my lowest parenthood moments thus far. The moments when I realized that I needed to put my baby down in her crib and walk away. She was crying, yes (as likely was I) but she was in a safe place. Safe from herself, but also from me. It was a thoroughly humbling moment when I admitted to myself: I have the capacity to hurt my child. I believe all parents have these moments, which is what keeps me from feeling like a monster. That and having always made the decision in the moment to keep her safe, take a breath, and do the next right thing. Mostly this looked like giving up on the nap and bringing her downstairs to play. Once it was waking Raj up in the middle of a work night to try to put her down because I was too frustrated to keep trying myself.
These are also the moments when I wonder whether I shouldn't go back to work. It's frustrating having the quality of my day rest entirely on the success of Jo's naps. Maybe Jo's naps could be someone else's responsibility (on bad days, I think "someone else's problem") and I could go back to using my professional brain. And back to having things to talk about that are unrelated to whether, when, and how much Josephine sleeps.
But there are so many other moments. She's heavy into her exersaucer these days and gets really intent on whichever part of it she's playing with. But then she'll look up and see me watching her and smile the hugest gummy grin at me.
In those moments, I remind myself that there's a very short window of time during which just seeing me looking at her will make her ecstatically happy. It won't be that long, the years being short and all, before she'll be a preteen whose response to me looking at her will be "WHAT?!?!" Probably with a bonus eye-roll. She'll be little for such a short amount of time that I often have a hard time understanding why I'd spend my day with other people's children to earn money to pay someone else to spend all day with my child. Of course, that's a vast oversimplification. There are arguments on all sides of this issue and I've heard them all and said many of them to myself. I feel certain that no matter which decision I make, I'll continue to feel conflicted and guilty. I don't imagine I'm alone in that.
Did I mention that Jo gives kisses now? She does. It's her wide open mouth pressed against my face, but still it's awfully sweet. She sits up now and will probably be pulling herself up to standing very soon and crawling well before I am ready. She sits in her high chair and eats food and is working very hard on talking. "Such a big girl," I am always telling her.
Half a year old already. They grow up so quickly.