Avery is growing up.

It’s just that simple. She stopped drinking the milk I gave the sitter months ago. Eschewing the bottle and demanding graduation to a sippy cup. She says, “No mommy,” with jarring clarity. She also approaches and bestows energetic and deeply meaningful, open-mouth kisses as the spirit moves her. She is utterly captivating and in each moment she breaks my heart.

My heart, a muscle and, simply, my core. Sean has explained to me as we work out, that in order to build muscle you have to tear it. Lifting heavier weights, performing more reps, until you reach failure. You simply cannot lift anymore as your muscles collapse. Broken. Returning bigger and stronger. Avery is on pace to cultivate in me one massively strong and beautifully developed heart.

I celebrate this passage, but have had moments of mourning the baby she was. Serene, content and loving. And more than anything, so very present. I’m not sure how else to explain it. Perhaps it was her birth weight of nearly 10 pounds, but from those first moments of guiding her rosy lips to my breast, she has been irrefutably present. She has watched us and participated from her earliest days, learning very early on what she needed to do to engage Briar. She identified and accepted the skittishness Briar had in those threatening first months of having a new baby in the house. I would venture to say that her desire to bond with Briar superseded many of the traditional demands of babies, allowing her to slip into the wary heart of her older sister.

Today, more than a year since we brought our not so little baby home, she is a dancing, chattering, twinkly person. She thrills, confounds and challenges Briar every day. We never imagined that in growing our family we would so magnificently grow our hearts.

Oh Avery, we love you more each day.