An Ode to a Crib
This past weekend I dis-assembled our crib. The crib that we picked out at the beautiful baby furniture store when we were expecting our daughter. The crib that we used for our son for almost two years after that. And now, our first-born is in school and our youngest is so definitely not a baby, with his parrot-like repetition of everything we say and his mouth-full-of-teeth grin. And so, the crib had been sitting vacant for over a month, like the baby clothes and infant-seats that went before it, no longer needed for it’s intended purpose. Without need of it, and with it taking up so much valuable-real estate in our home, you would think that I, a purge-happy minimalist, would have been thrilled to part with it.
The thing is, I wasn’t.
I wasn’t even eager to take it apart.
I saw that it symbolized so much more than just a safe place for a sleeping baby. It represented our children’s fleeting infancy, the security of a place they wouldn’t be able to get in to trouble (or sneak out of my view to eat gummy bears under the comforter, but I digress) and a stage that I would never again see them in.
Even more than the stages we are leaving behind, the fate of the crib represents the future of our family, too. It’s ironic that after the birth of our daughter I was confident that our family was complete. I even sold off many valuable baby items, touting that we were going to be the proud parents of an only child (by choice), only to have to re-purchase them when I got pregnant with our son. I had read books about parenting only children, and had confidently fielded the typical questions that only-children parents face (“but aren’t only children destined to be selfish?” No, I don’t believe that one bit). Once I told my husband that I was happy with one child he told me he wasn’t. And ten months later our son was born (true story).
Now, two years later, we’re moving on from the baby stage and this time it is my husband who is more confident about our family and I am the one waffling. It’s not even that I yearn to be pregnant again (I don’t) or deliver a child once more (definitely a means to an end in my mind), I can’t even put my finger on an exact reason. All I know is that even though we don’t want more children right now, I can’t quite part with our crib.
This whole thing has gotten me thinking more about the power of “things” and the sentiment they represent. It’s not as though our decision to have more children relies even a fraction on our having a crib, those are more than easily attainable if needed. To me, it is just a little bit like mourning. Mourning a stage that, despite all of its challenges, is also so full of joy, promise, and simplicity. A baby only really needs food, shelter, and love. Sure, their cries can be hard to decipher at times, but given the limited options of what they need, the choices a parent needs to make are more limited than when the child begins to grow and become more independent.
Watching our children grow, and outgrow, is part of being a parent. When they leave behind a stage, a new one is right around the corner. Now we get to hear our children’s laughter, feel their hugs and cuddles, and listen to their funny logic of the world. Packing up the crib isn’t just about saying goodbye, it’s about welcoming a new stage of life, and all of the uncertainty and expectation that comes with it. I think I’ll hold onto the crib a little bit more, just until I’m ready to say goodbye for good. Until then I know that even though the babies it held aren’t in it any longer, they’ll always be in my heart.