Rest in Pieces

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I knew, I knew, I knew it was going to happen, and yet I did not see it coming.

It started with a Saturday morning errand to get a new comforter for our bed. Which took us to IKEA. Where it seemed like the right time to consider getting our 4 year old a twin-sized bed. Which meant buying him a bed. And linen. And a mattress. Which meant an afternoon spent assembling the bed. Which meant 3 kids horsing around as we worked, and one eager little boy climbing into his crib to get a better view, and jumping with glee. And then trying to climb out again, but falling instead and narrowly missing hitting his head against the edge of his brother’s shiny-new-bigger-bed…

Which made us wonder if maybe the bed we should be getting rid of was the crib, rather than the toddler bed. Which meant dismantling the crib and presenting the toddler bed to a wild-with-joy near-2-year-old.

And then, seeing the crib resting in pieces against the wall, resting in peace after 6 years of holding my babies as they slept – I began to sob.

The past months have seen a slow trickle of baby gear from our house: the high chair is gone, the baby toys given away. It’s been a while since we had a play mat for “tummy time”, and the nursing pillow which was never further than an arms’ reach away is now miles away cradling a new infant in a new home.

Three is our number. This body of mine will not be growing or nursing any more littles. I will not breastfeed again, I will not welcome another newborn into my home and my heart. The first solids have been eaten; the first steps have been taken; the first words have been spoken. My babies are growing up.

And although I knew it was coming, I sobbed… for there is an ache, a tender moment of silence in acknowledging that a season is finished. It was a precious, beautiful season: I learned to love in a way I never dreamed possible, and my own soulish developmental milestones tracked each of their physical ones. I learned the comfort of a new community of young parents: the fellowship of the sleep deprived and ever-ready. Last month I saw an online group of “New Parents in Whoville”, and I knew that that was a group I could not join: it is a group of which I am now an alumnus.

Been there, done that, got the spit-up-stained T-shirt.

I would not take it back. I love my little one’s new found freedom: his personality is unfolding and we are delighted with his delight at conquering his little world. I would not have him be a crawler or a nurser or waking up five times a night. I love that the older ones can read and help and tell jokes and understand puns. Their growth amazes and delights me.

And yet, it seemed fitting to rest my head on the crib frame and cry a while: grateful for years past, for sweetnesses remembered, for lessons learned. It is a joyful ache. My babies are growing up, and this is the neither the first or the last time we will salute the bittersweet change of seasons. Life goes on. It is a good thing: I welcome the growth and look forward to the future. But I don’t want to run too fast either: this past season was a sweet one despite the exhaustion.

God met me in the nursery on more occasions than I can number, and so just for a moment: I cry with gratitude for yesterday’s mercies, even as I welcome the mercies of tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Rest in Pieces

      • Our “baby” is 6’5″ and about 260 and “does not” like to be called “our baby”. 🙂 I kid my daughter (the one with the two giant sons) that in ten or so years, she can look forward to becoming a grandma! I don’t think she’s quite ready for that yet!

  1. So beautiful, Bronwyn. You will pass through other seasons like this one, each bittersweet with the memories of what was and the joy for what is. My youngest son’s move to a college dorm was our latest. You are so right — don’t rush it! Praise God there are blessings in every season.

  2. When my children were little, their every milestone had me in tears, whether it was “I can’t believe I already have a kid old enough to be in school” to “I’ll never have to carry a diaper bag again.” Every milestone elicited mama tears, because the milestones in their lives marked off pieces of my life as their mama. I often experienced their development as about me just as much as it was about them.

    My kids are now young adults. Last year I watched my twins graduate from high school. I cried again–yet more and more, I find that my tears are mingled with sheer joy for the adventures in their lives. My tears of sadness at the passing of time have been replaced by tears of happiness as my kids launch into their adult lives.

    I am grateful for every batch of tears I cried in recognition of the passage of time and life, and I am grateful that the bittersweet gets more sweet than bitter for me as time goes by.

    • Thank you for sharing this. I feel like being a Mom was an introduction to a whole new world of crying at the drop of a hat 🙂 Good to know it wasn’t just me!

  3. Beautiful! Made me cry reading it and remembering my own tears at just the same moment(s). There is such wisdom here Bron — this holding loosely, holding the tension between memory and what lies ahead, allowing our children to grow up, change and mature and bearing witness to it all, even through tears.

  4. “it is a group of which I am now an alumnus”

    Well said. I seem to be becoming an alum of more and more groups like that as the years go on, Bron.

    • And, as you and Liz ably demonstrate, being an alumnus of a group rather than a participant thereof also gives you a unique opportunity to be a cheerleader and encourager to people who are weary in that season and need hope for the next one 🙂 Just speaking from my experience, of course…

  5. I work as a Mentor with MOPS and sent this to the leadership team. I know they will appreciate it.

  6. This is why I have to have at least 3 kids. Because I can’t imagine my next being my last. Or maybe even the one after that. Although I’m sure that when kids outnumber my hands I may change my tune. 🙂

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  8. I was just telling hubby I was sad because my daughter is losing her “baby cute” and entering “pretty girl” phase. I pray for more children, but if it isn’t in God’s plan, I’m encouraged by this post to enjoy the now and look forward to the next milestones. I know there will be joy in every phase. Thank you.

    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Marisela. Yes, every stage has its wonderful moments… but none of them last. I take courage from the parents who have gone before who tell me “it gets better” 🙂

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