When the last baby grows up and out of the nursery, it's hard not to get a little teary while dismantling the crib.
Our first nursery was ready long before the tiny person who would fill it arrived. And in the weeks before I gave birth, I often settled in the rocking chair and let my thoughts wander to the baby who would change my life. My eyes always went to the crib. I felt connected to the way it was waiting to meet her, too.
For 10 years, I leaned over its railings, shushing, patting, and, yes, even breastfeeding my babies to sleep.
For 10 years, I lifted babies up and into the day, until one by one they outgrew its walls.
Letting go of baby items has never been easy for me. Saying goodbye to the one that welcomed and cradled each of our children would be the hardest.
It didn’t matter there were nights I wanted to run away from the screaming baby inside or all the hours I spent trying to convince non-napping toddlers to spend time there. Four beautiful times, its pieces leaned against a wall waiting to create a space for a new family member, when joyful butterflies filled the space beneath my heart.
Today, as we took it down for the last time, I thought of the weight of sleepy heads on my shoulder, koala bear legs wrapped around my hip, and chubby toes curled inside footed jammies. And oh that sweet moment that started each day with outstretched arms over railings.
My tears were caught somewhere between the memories that lay behind and the ones waiting ahead. Again my eyes went to the crib as it leaned against the wall. I know these years have changed me for the better; that quiet moments spent watching over children have helped me grow.
As its last graduate stood beside her new big girl bed and asked, “What happened my crib?” I searched for the right words. “It’s all done,” I whispered. My heart felt both heavy and light.
“Okay, Mommy,” she said with certainty. Then she climbed onto the bed to arrange her family of stuffed animals and dolls, just like her older brother and sisters had when it was their turn. She was ready to move on and say goodbye. It’s up to me to follow.