On this, the last day of the year, B. took apart the crib Ace has been sleeping in for 3 years. Suddenly I wasn’t ready for Ace to be three. My heart was still stuck at the baby stage.
We had borrowed the crib. I hated the thing at first. It looked old and rickety…unstable. I had a 4 lb. preemie that resembled a baby squirrel. I often burst into tears at the sight of his tony body. And I was the post-partum poster woman of instability. The last thing I wanted was an wobbly crib for my child. My peace of mind couldn’t handle it.
We had tried co-sleeping with Ace the first few days home from the hospital. But he made goat noises all night long. And his presence in the pack and play next to my bed was so entirely strong upon my senses that it was like having Jesus in the room. Sleep wasn’t happening. We needed the crib. And a friend of mine was practically throwing this one on us. We had to take it. Our budget demanded that we accept her generosity.
The day B. assembled the crib might have been the day of my worst hormonal nose dive. I sat in the rocking chair holding 6 day old Ace, watching B. through a film of sleep deprivation. I felt bonded to nothing. I felt loose and disconnected. Christmas was just weeks away, but holiday mode was as far away as Bethlehem to me. All I felt was a wordless desperation to get off the roller coaster ride of new parenting. I felt on the brink of collapse, as I watched B. fumble and curse the screws and bolts that would hold up our child as he slept.
And so we lay him a manger. Well, not quite. We laid him in that old crib, right in the center of it, like a tiny potato.
And with time and sunshine and some stiff drinks with friends, my post-partum depression fizzled away and my love for our son expanded.
For 3 years my heart slept in that crib… my hundreds of nights, my countless sun-ups, laying him down in peace on the soft sheet, picking him up and out of it with joy… a million thank you, thank you, thank you’s when he stopped crying and went to sleep in it. And now he is three, and yesterday, when I awoke him from his nap at 4 pm, he stretched his big self out and could almost touch the two ends of the crib. His last nap in the baby bed.
People say, it goes by so fast, doesn’t it? The baby years? But “fast” isn’t quite it. It’s more like when you wake up on new year’s day, and you first step outside, you see in the trees the colored streamers that party goers have strewn with drunken joy into various tree branches. The streamers cling to where they were tossed.
So does my heart. Years later, I find that my heart still clings, like colored streamers, to the baby days— where first it was tossed in drunken joy.