The last year has had a lot of ups and downs. We went to Italy. I got fired from my job, which forced me to start working from home, fulfilling the goal I had for myself since before I even had Quinn, but which became even more important after she was born. We went to see close friends/family in Tennessee. I suffered a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding (which is still going strong). Quinn decided that sleep was her frenemy, and we thought we were going insane for a few months. We got a new puppy. I watched our neighbors get robbed without realizing it. My mother-in-law lost her damned mind and caused nothing but drama all year long (more about that later). I had another miscarriage (more about that later). My husband worked on an independent video game (which keeps getting pushed back).

While all that was happening, Quinn was transforming from a baby into a little girl. She went from babbling to ordering the dogs around (like a boss). She went from tentatively toddling around the house to climbing everything in sight. She went from a bald-headed beauty to my mohawked misfit.

baby mohawk

I’ve been waiting all year for her to turn two, somehow thinking that would be the magical moment that she would finally become this “child” instead of a baby. That she would become more independent. That she would be better able to communicate with us. That she would be able to explore the world more. That we would be able to do more things with her, take her more places, and share more experiences with her. All of those things are true, but the transition took all year, and it’s still not complete. While she is more independent, she also needs us just as much as she ever did — to be her guide as she explores and learns and grows. She doesn’t make it far before turning back to make sure that we’re watching her, encouraging her, and validating her.

While this last year has been hard in so many ways, it has also been a joy to see her grow and to show us more of who she is. Parenting can be tedious, hard work. There are many days that I have no patience, and I feel like I am going to explode from all the whining and screaming and flat-out refusal to cooperate in any way (even to do the things that she herself is asking to do — toddler logic). Yet there are equally as many days where I am pleasantly surprised by all that parenting has to offer — like how much happiness it can bring to hear your child’s belly laugh, or how contagious her awe can be, or how funny she is when she dances or makes her babies ride the dog or counts herself off as she runs around the kitchen in a circle. “ONE… TWO… THREEEEE!”

Here is how we measured the year: In family tickle fights. In chasing dogs around the yard. In swinging thousands of swings. In wagon rides. In helping in the yard. In family walks. Dance parties. Pocoyo. Stars. Holding hands. Ducks. Balls that light up when they bounce. Snuggles together every night. Learning “mine!” Learning “NO!” Helping with the dishwasher. Planting flowers together. Traveling the world. Phone calls with daddy. Giggles. Hugs. Kisses.

And this: