When I give Carina a bath, her wet baby hair streams down the back of her neck and I think, “My baby is growing up.” She may still have a round little belly and short, chubby legs, but those legs know how to climb the ladder to the top of the bunk bed.
Just last week, instead of screaming for help down from the couch, she flattened down on her belly, swung her legs around and lowered them until her feet hit the ground. Just like that, with all the confidence in the world, the first time she tried. What? I’m like, 14 months old now, Mom. Get over it.
Sure, this age is hard. But it is also completely magical. We are all suckers for her flirtations. She will slide up to Chad on the couch, give him a huge smile and then sprawl her whole body out on top of him, head thrown back. If Ollie is on the ground, she plops her diaper butt right on his back, giggling and shaking her shaggy head. When we pick Colin and Gabe up from school she calls, “CAH CAH CAH” , like a crow, over and over again, until Colin talks to her. If Gabe spreads a blanket on the ground, she immediately struts over and has a seat, so that he can drag her around the floor for one of her princess parades.
And me? I am smitten over and over again, everyday. When I lift her from bed each morning, warm and clammy, and her tears immediately end as she drapes her little arms around my neck. When I am folding the laundry and she grabs each piece of clothing that is hers, trying to drape it over her head. When she points to a bird outside the window and flaps her arms with a huge smile. When I stroke her soft, gorgeous face, over and over again as her eyes droop towards sleep every night.
It is not an original thought, but over and over I think it: I just want to bottle this preciousness up and remember and cherish it forever. I want to soak in her smell and cuddle her sweet soft body and make time stand still.