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.