Today I took down the crib that cradled my two children through nights and naps from infancy into their toddler years.
And today I cried.
It’s not that I want another baby. It’s not that I’m attached to the 3rd-hand crib or the space it was taking up in the kids’ room. It isn’t even because I jammed my finger while trying to wrestle the thing apart (which I didn’t, but surely would have if I hadn’t enlisted my husband to pry its bolts and screws from their nooks and crannies). No, I cried because… well, I don’t know exactly.
Twice I have endured the morphing of my body into an unwieldy monstrosity. Twice I have labored and summoned strength and stamina I could never have imagined for myself. I have brought into this world two babies, two beautiful, smart babies.
I have been splattered and spit up on. Puked on and peed on. I have been sucked on and slept on. I have picked up, mopped up, and been fed up. I have cried, I have laughed, I have felt pride, and I have felt guilt. I have yelled and I have hugged. I have felt alone and I have craved to be alone. I have wanted my life back yet never want to go back to life before I met my children.
I love my children but I know I don’t want any more. I am ready to get myself back, to begin the life I have wanted for myself but have had to put on hold. With one child in kindergarten and one ready to take on the world in his new 2-year-old shoes, I am beginning to get a glimpse of that life.
So why the tears?
Maybe I was crying for the babies I will never hold to my breast again. For the times I gently placed them, limp with sleep, into that crib, their soft breath whispering through milky lips. For the first time I found them standing, holding the crib bar for support, triumph beaming on their face.
Or maybe I was crying for the future toward which they are headed now that they sleep snug and secure in their big girl and boy beds? For the patter of feet down the hallway or the thumps down the stairs. For the curly-topped head that seems each day to have grown a little closer to my waist. Or the slammed doors and stands of defiance that mark another step toward independence.
I can’t answer the question with one definitive answer because I don’t think there is one. Taking apart and stacking in the hallway the biggest physical aspect of my children’s babyhood is an obvious metaphor. What is not so obvious is the part of me I was dismantling along side it.