“I want to be a big girl,” Avery said to me at bedtime one evening in late November. She was lying on her bed while I put on her overnight diaper.
“You are a big girl,” I told her.
“I don’t want diapers anymore.”
I should have been jumping with joy. After all, she’d been dry during the day for a long time, naps included. But it seemed I was the one who wasn’t quite ready to be finished with her overnight diaper.
In that moment we were at the tail end of a night waking phase. Anna was having nightmares and Avery was popping out of bed and trying to climb in with me (when I wasn’t in soothing Anna back to sleep). All I could think, when she said those wonderfully ambitious, independent words was, Oh Lord, I’ll never sleep again. In my defense, she had never, ever woken up dry, so I just didn’t think she was ready. And Christmas was coming. I didn’t want to add 3 a.m. sheet changes and frequent wake-ups to the festivities. (Anna did this at about the same time — just past three — announcing she was finished with diapers. I think I had much the same reaction.)
But she wanted to try and I wanted to encourage her, just…not yet. I offered up a compromise — after Christmas, we’d ditch diapers. She agreed. And she didn’t forget. On New Year’s Day, she reminded me that we were all finished with diapers, now that we were home from all of our travels.
It’s been 10 days and you know what? She is totally rocking it. There have been only two nights with accidents. She goes pee before bed, we put her on the toilet before we go to bed around 11, and she’s actually gotten up a few times in the wee hours and made it to the toilet on her own. Clearly, she was ready to be a big girl. (And of course, we’d just bought a big box of diapers before all this!)
Losing this one diaper feels like an enormous shift in my whole parenting life. It was only one diaper to put on, one to take off. One wipe per day (will I keep buying wipes for all their other wonderful uses?). But it means I am completely done with diapers after almost six years. It’s a day I couldn’t imagine. We are diaper-free, forever, until I need them myself. Wait — why am I crying?
It’s funny, I had a similar emotional earthquake when I got rid of our bibs. Not our actual baby clothes — I seemed to have no trouble boxing those onesies up and passing them on. I gave away loads of stuff without any tears — toys and blankets and bouncy chairs and mobiles. Adios! But I remember the bibs. They were in a drawer in our kitchen and one day I realized we didn’t use bibs anymore. They were just wasting space. But I didn’t get rid of them right away because maybe a bib would come in handy sometime. But of course, once a child decides she is done with bibs, she’s done with bibs. Eventually, I put them in a bag and gave them to a friend who has younger kids.
And the stroller. I had a really hard time saying goodbye to my stroller. My girlfriends gave it to me at my baby shower. I loved that stroller. We’d been through a lot together — everything, really. I imagined tallying up the kilometres I clocked in that stroller after two kids. The park. The zoo. The mall. Vacations. Snow. Rain. Beautiful sunshiney days. I pictured how my babies were so impossibly tiny strapped into that car seat when we brought them home from the hospital. I remembered the first time we pulled up the cushion and realized all the gunk that gets trapped underneath (eewww!). The hundreds of naps they enjoyed in there, the Cheerios they consumed. The time the wheel fell off with a basket full of groceries. Anna’s very first ice cream cone dripping all over the tray.
But last summer, a neighbour was telling me about a couple she knew — young, newly married college students, unprepared for a baby — and I knew it was time. Avery hadn’t used the stroller in many months by then — what was I hanging on to it for? So I wiped it down and gave it away and imagined a brand new baby filling that precious space.
So, while I’m feeling a bit verklempt tonight that my baby days are really, truly, over, I know it is also an opportunity to celebrate the start of a new, exciting phase of parenting. Big girls. Big adventures. It’s only up from here.