Monday, June 20, 2011

No More Babies.

My baby turned two last week. He celebrated his big day by climbing out of his crib -- twice. One time for each year of his little life, I suppose. I wanted to cry. The practical side of me was ready to weep because I feared the logistical transition to a Big Boy Bed. I'd just gotten everyone sleeping well and through the night (mostly) and have been relishing my newfound sleep. His escapes also made me want to cry because it was a toddler's way of grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me and taunting me, "You don't have a baby, anymore! You don't have a baby, anymore!"

A long time ago, someone told me that when your youngest turns two, you'll start to want another baby. While I wouldn't go that far (can you hear my husband sighing in relief right now?), something about his second birthday is bittersweet for me. Our family's complete -- it feels right and it feels finished. I'm happy with where we're at and am enjoying the increased freedoms and communication that having two slightly older toddlers brings. However, this birthday is filling me with nostalgia and wistfulness.

My husband got out the crib conversion kit and before you knew it, our son, our baby, was proudly climbing up into his "big boy bed." I was so happy for him as he clearly relished his new status and as always, was proud of any milestone my child had achieved, but there was part of me that wanted to say, "Oh honey, are you sure you don't want to stay in your nice, comfy crib a while longer? Look how cute this admittedly unsafe crib bumper is! Don't you think it really ties your room together, aesthetically speaking? Don't you love Mommy coming to get your cute little self in the mornings when she hears you kicking the back of the crib and talking?" No, he doesn't care one lick for the themed decor of his room and he was thrilled not to have to wait for someone to come collect him upon waking. He could wake up, open that door and go searching for whomever or whatever his little heart desired. Freedom! The toddler equivalent of a driver's license and he couldn't wait to hit the open road.

Remarkably, he's done amazingly well with his transition. I was fearing a prolonged adjustment period, filled with tears on all sides but so far, that has not been the case. Aside from one nap time, he's happily toddled over to his big boy bed every time, climbed right in and gone to sleep.
A few days after he moved to the big boy bed, I was reading my daughter a book that happened to have a baby in a crib in it. It made me sad, thinking that never again would I have a baby in a crib, waiting for me to come and get them in the morning. It wasn't just the crib, we've been getting rid of all of our baby gear - no more exersaucers, swings, or bouncy seats. No more onesies or Robeez. After his party, I even had to ditch many of the baby toys to make room for the new, big boy toys. Lightning McQueens and Buzz Lightyears now abound, while shape sorters soft, squishy toys have been boxed up, ready to be passed on to the next baby in our extended family. I think it's a bit much to ask an already sentimental mom to celebrate her baby's second birthday, move him to a big boy bed, and clear out extraneous baby toys all in the same week but I guess that's what life is -- always on to the next phase.

School got out here last week and I was talking to one of my neighbors whose youngest child will be moving to middle school in the fall. It's taking everything I have not to ask her, "How can you stand it?! It's only three years till high school, then four until graduation and before you know it, you'll just be free laundry service on the weekends!" I suppose that she's feeling the same sense of pride at her child's accomplishments as I do about the big boy bed, and likely also the same wistfulness at one more era gone by. Maybe each of our children's achievements are the source of a simultaneous pain and joy for all mothers.

Since we're done having kids, this little guy will always be my baby. Like the book, Love You Forever, no matter how old I get and how grown up my little guy becomes, he'll always be my baby. And for me, I'm accepting that I'll be a little nostalgic and sad along the way. As long as I refrain from breaking into his house when he's an adult with a family of his own, to rock him while he sleeps, I'll know I've stayed just this side of smothering, crazy mama. And sometimes, when it comes to dealing with our kids growing up, just shy of insanity is the most we can hope for.
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