Sophie is nearly one and a half (or “18 months,” as I guess all the cool parents say), and all of a sudden, she isn’t a little baby anymore.

I mean, sure, she probably looks like one to you. But to the two of us, watching her go tearing through the house on a daily basis, and listening to her speak in complete sentences (”All done taking a nap!” “Where is my pacifier?” “No more tuna. Put it back on the plate”) is surreal and sort of amazing.

It’s like she always tells us: “Not a baby anymore.” (Actually, since she can’t really pronounce her R’s yet, it comes out “anymoy”…but whatever.)

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my stubborn and unyielding wife that Sophie has very definite ideas about what she wants, what she wants to do, and — most importantly — what she wants you to do. She’s been fairly easy to distract until very recently, but that’s changing, and I can see a time coming when it might be necessary to send her to boarding school.

I’m just kidding. (Boarding schools are very expensive.)

We had a lot of problems getting her to sleep through the night — problems which really haven’t entirely gone away — but in pretty much every other respect, we’ve been extremely, extremely lucky with this little girl. She’s been nothing but healthy, she’s very vocal and affectionate, and she makes us laugh all the time. Not to mention the fact that we’re living in a house with more than enough room for the three of us, on a beautiful piece of land in the middle of a beautiful part of the country, and that Leah works 10 minutes from home, and I work wherever my laptop happens to be plugged in.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because Sophie’s been going through a very clingy/hell NO I won’t nap phase, which has made working from home more of a balancing act than it normally is, at a time when work has been particularly intense and/or challenging. Which is why I haven’t written anything longer than a few words here in, oh, forever. Not because of her, necessarily, but because even if you’re living in a beautiful house in the beautiful country with your beautiful daughter babbling up and down the hallway, it’s still very easy to get wrapped up in other stuff. There’s always something else to do. It’s easy to stop being a Parent, and become someone with a child. To get stressed out, to forget about what really matters, to get to the end of every week and wonder where the days went.

So during these trying last few days, I’ve been thinking about how this isn’t supposed to be easy. From a certain point of view, it’s sort of the job of your children to break you open, shake you around, and help you become a better person — less focused on nominal goals, quicker to honest emotions, and soooooooooo much more patient.

None of these things are particularly descriptive of me. But I’m working on it.

She helps me, too. This afternoon, she woke up from her nap way too early, and was all kinds of upset even after I went in and got her out of her crib. This may come as a surprise to you, but a little person screaming in your ear isn’t a lot of fun, and since I already wasn’t thrilled about her throwing an extra-large monkey wrench into my work schedule, I was having a hard time coping with the volume. I needed to calm down. I stopped, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Sophie, seeing that I was upset, touched my chin to turn my face toward her and said, softly, “…wonderful girl?”

I know when I’m beat.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things that need to be put off until tomorrow while I get down on the carpet and play with my little girl.

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