Natalie is at her best age. She is really coming into her own and the kind of girl she is, is an all-singing, all-dancing, cake-obsessed two-and-a-half-year-old. Honestly, I love her a lot more now than when she was a baby. Like most fathers, I was able to connect with her on a deeper level once we started to have real, human conversations.
Our daughter is growing up in so many ways. It was not so very long ago that I sat by Natalie's crib and held her hand until she fell asleep, a process that sometimes took over an hour. We finally admitted this wasn't doing her any favors and started to wean her off the constant contact.
Now she might still scream and cry a bit, but eventually--much sooner than she used to--she will miraculously fall asleep on her own. My evenings have improved tremendously. In fact this is certainly another reason why I can love her more easily now than before, when I'd frequently drift off to exhausted slumber on her bedroom floor while still clutching her tiny hand. Baby steps toward independence.