This house has had a crib in it for nine years. Nine years. Now, I realize that is nothing in comparison to the Duggars, but I don't care to compare myself to complete maniacs.
I remember all those years ago, I gratefully accepted a hand-me-down crib, the crib that was my sister's stepson's. It was old fashioned, but sweet. I remember, honestly as if it was yesterday, standing in Babies R Us with my mother picking out the bedding, the area rug, the lamp, everything coordinated with a jungle theme. (As a side note, why do we assume babies like jungle animals? I mean really, aren't tigers and lions a little scary?)
I was so proud of that nursery. It was ready weeks before my baby was to arrive. It was to be his home, his safe haven, the crib there to protect him, the baby animals to comfort him. My eldest climbed out of that crib just before his second birthday, so it was retired, but only briefly until our middle child, Evan would arrive in the spring of 2008. That crib moved with us to Berkeley California when Evan was one.
Evan loved his crib. Loved it. Unlike his older brother he never made a move to escape. I thought he might stay in that crib until he was twelve, but frankly, it was falling apart, and when we found out we had another baby on the way we decided one crib per family was enough. Evan was promptly transitioned to his "toddler bed."
In 2011, my girlfriend Hannah gave me her beautiful never-used crib. It looked expensive. I'm sure it was. Her kids never cared for the crib, opting instead to bunk with mom and dad. So Julian was the lucky recipient of a brand new crib. That was three years ago. That crib moved with us from Oakland back to Denver and up until two days ago my littlest child, my baby Julian, was as happy as can be in his "cribey." Like his brother Evan, he never made any effort to escape, in fact whenever he grew tired he would ask for it. When he was scared he would run for it. His crib was his safe place.
Two days ago the drop side of the crib became loose. Rather than fix it, we simply removed it, so that the crib is now open on one side, almost like a regular bed. My baby loves it. He loves the freedom to come and go as he pleases. He no longer has to cry for me each morning to help him out of a crib. Three or four times a day he asks if he can go take a "nap" just so that he may have the experience of getting in and out of his bed by himself. It doesn't take a genius to know what this represents. He is growing up.
So after nine years, this family will no longer have a crib. We never will again, not until my babies have babies of their very own. My children have outgrown the need to be contained, they have reached a level of independence, and the bittersweet truth is, it has only just begun. Every day my nine year old, the baby who once gobbled up jars of pureed peas with gusto, surprises me with his maturity. He has transformed what was once his nursery into a boys room scattered with Harry Potter novels, baseball cards, and dirty socks. He rattles of multiplication tables and baseball statistics and want's to go on "real" roller coasters. My younger boys are catching up everyday.
This house no longer has a crib. I can't protect my boys the way I once did, watching their every move, catching them when they fall, being there all the time. No. My children no longer have the protection of a four sided bed, those days are gone forever. Instead we now must create a home, four walls within which they know they are safe and loved. Where we will hold them, support them and try to comfort them just as much as we did back in the days when a lullaby could sooth them to slumber.
This house no longer has a crib. I won't lie. It hurts a bit. Letting go. Saying goodbye to those baby years. The years when nobody in the world compared to mommy or daddy. When their faces would light up at the very sight of us. I have always been infatuated with the passage of time, and nothing makes the passing of each year more noticeable than one's children growing up. Time is all we have, and we can't rewind, we can't go back. I will never have a baby in a crib again. We will be buying another big boy bed, dismantling the crib and hopefully handing it down to another young family. One that is just beginning. I will blink back my tears as we see it go, and then I'll turn back to my big boys and move on...