I have been the mother of two children for six months now.
This feels like a milestone. I recall reading once that parents' happiness peaks when their baby is six months - the nadir is three years old, apparently.
It turns out this applies with a second baby too. We have certainly all arrived at an extremely happy place, bang on schedule. Not just me and Violet, but Noel and Cherry too. We are a happy family.
(As Cherry is just 26 months old, clearly I can't speak for the nadir but I have no reason to think either of my daughters at three years old will be anything other than a continued source of joy)
There has been a great deal of bliss - the first 12 weeks in particular were nothing short of heavenly. But there has been a degree of turbulence. All of us have felt it. You don't just chuck another child into the equation without having to turn a few things over. Well, we haven't anyway.
I had something of a free pass from Violet's birth until Christmas, with minimal work and Violet still young enough to remain in that blissfully contented, happy, easygoing state whereby all she really needed was a full stomach, a clean nappy and cuddles on tap. Cherry provided all the entertainment Violet needed and her first smile, first laugh and first interaction were all aimed at her sister.
At four months she, just like her sister before her, shook things up. Four months brought the classic sleep regression, her first tooth, and the emergence of a strong and forceful personality that already knows exactly what she wants.
Five months saw her grow before my very eyes, blazing effortlessly through clothing for children aged 3-6m and 6-9m in about two weeks. It also saw her choose to begin baby-led weaning. Like her sister, Violet displays no sense of humour when it comes to food. She treats it as a serious business.
And at six months she is a force of nature, a strong and very physical being already desperate to be mobile and involved in absolutely everything. No longer will she sit contentedly and watch the world go by. She wants a part and a place in the world. She is beginning to understand distance, crying noisily if Cherry or I stray too far from her side. Today she played, fascinated, with a page in a big card book, flipping it back and forth, mesmerised by the motion she had created.
Happy, tactile, loving, into everything, bursting with curiosity, she's faintly reminiscent of her sister in some ways whilst remaining resolutely and entirely herself. I can already tell I will have to baby-proof, a stage I completely skipped with Cherry.
(At the time I credited my parenting of course, when in fact it's due to Cherry having always been motivated by social stimulus. She wasn't interested in her physical environment and therefore I never had to control it. Violet is geared far more towards the physical and I am counting down the days until she is flying up and down our hazardous stairs, poking fingers in plug sockets, eating wildlife from the garden and unearthing knives from the dishwasher.)
All of us have changed dramatically in this six months. The differences in Violet are immense, in Cherry very noticeable, in Noel and I subtler, but they are undeniably there.
I could freeze time now, I truly could. When I'm old and looking back to my glory days, these will be the beginning of them.