I feel like we’re standing on the edge of a cliff. Mary Virginia is five months old. Next month we’ll start solids, she’ll sit up, soon enough she’ll be crawling and then she’ll move out and start screening my calls.
Last month I thought we’d reached the cute, cuddly, roly-poly baby stage, but this month Mary Virginia proved me wrong. Now she’s even cuter, cuddly-ier, roly-poly-er. She’s grabbing her feet, cooing nonstop and has started to laugh. She can roll both ways now, and Tom has developed a rigorous sit up regimen for her to improve her core strength.
She’s getting stronger, and starting to prepare for mobility. She can lift her entire torso off the floor, and can use her arms to pivot her whole body 360 degrees. It’s similar to what equestrians call a “turn on the haunches“: hind-end remains stationary, front-end pivots.
The newest skill she’s mastering is grabbing things. She now understands that she can reach and hold things, and bring them to her mouth, and she couldn’t be more content with that achievement. She loves grabbing, studying, and playing with toys or even a blanket if that’s all that’s around; Mary Virginia is happiest when she has something in her hand. She’s in a sweet spot with grabbing because she even though wants to hold everything within reach, but she’s not destructive yet.
When we change her diaper she grabs our arms and won’t let go. It’s similar to what I imagine it feels like to get entangled in octopus tentacles, and I dare you to try to break her grip.
We’re also very, very tired. We’re so tired that I’m having trouble writing this. In the first draft of this post, I used the word “grip” four times and the word “like” three times in the sentence about the octopus. I read the sentence and knew it wasn’t good, but I was so tired that I couldn’t think of how to improve it and still say what I wanted to say.
That’s because the one milestone she isn’t moving toward is the “sleeping through the night” milestone. She’s successfully lowered my sleep standards so much that anytime she sleeps longer than a three hour stretch I give her my credit card and car keys and tell her to treat herself, she deserves it.
Every time I think she’s starting to settle into a schedule, she changes everything. A perfect day would be: up at 7:30, nap at 9:30, play, nap at 1, snooze at 5, down at 8. Sometimes she nails it. Other times she naps for 10 minutes. And usually when she does nap, she and David alternate their sleep schedules like choreographed dance. The timing is so uncanny that I feel like I’m on candid camera. I put David down and the moment I close his door I hear her wake up. Then when she’s ready to nap again, as I’m tiptoeing out of her room I hear David, “Na-ee? David git down! All done night night!”
It happens enough that there’s no way it’s random. These kids, they’re plotting against me.
Recently Mary Virginia unveiled a new “up at 5 a.m.” routine. Twice she’s woken up at 5 a.m., and some how hasn’t napped until 11. And when she does that I look at her and think, “Is this real? How are you doing this? Are you just going to collapse? Because all the books say you need 18 hours of sleep. That means you should go to sleep NOW and not wake up again until tomorrow morning.”
She did it on Sunday, so we decided it was a wonderful morning to put her in nursery at church for the first time. I told the childcare workers that she’d been up since 5 and hadn’t napped. The kind worker asked me, “Do you want to put her down here?”
Um, no, thanks. I think I’m done trying to put her down this morning. Would YOU like to try?
She fell asleep in a stranger’s arms at 11 a.m., making a bold-faced liar out of me.
As bad as she is at sleeping, she still has the a great temperament. She tends to save her fussy moments for times when we’re out, doing things like visiting friends, trick or treating, or at a restaurant. But most of the time she’s happy and sweet.
She’s got a great smile and here’s the best way to make her smile: look at her. She’s not picky or hard to please, she’s just happy to be here and glad you’re here, too.
Dear Mary Virginia,
Your world is getting bigger and bigger; you’re playing with toys, and you’re on the verge mobility. You’re also noticing more of your surroundings, and the one thing you just can’t get enough of is your brother. You’re completely fascinated and amazed by him.
I’m a little sister, just like you, so I know what it’s like to look up to an older sibling. I also know that your relationship with David will go through several iterations. Your fascination and awe will give way to annoyance, obsession, disgust, camaraderie, embarrassment; sometimes you’ll even feel all those things in the same day.
You give him your biggest smiles, spontaneous laughs, and when you’re both in the same room, you watch his every move. David is a great big brother, and I love that you can learn from him. He’ll teach you about balls and trains and how to get on Mommy’s ever-loving nerves.
Watching you watch him reminds me that you’re figuring out this big world by watching. It reminds me to pray that you’ll be surrounded by awesome friends who will tell you that the one to watch, the one to imitate is Jesus.
We want so many things for you. We want you to grow and be strong and healthy and my goodness we want you to start sleeping more. We want you to love books, and enjoy school and grow a full head of hair (which might happen in that order), and see the world and grow into a wonderful young lady.
But what we really want is for you to know and believe that Jesus loves you and died for you and become an imitator of Christ. If you know, really know and believe that Jesus loves you, things won’t be perfect (for example, 5 a.m. will still be a very painful hour for Mommy and Daddy), but everything else sort of pales in comparison.
We love you,
(The other baby in our house wanted to hold the 5, roll around on the floor and take a 5-month photo, too.)