I wish I was more like my husband.
I watched him calmly, methodically taking apart his half of the crib as I struggled to operate my Allen wrench through the ridiculous fountain of tears streaming down my face, and I just kept thinking, “Why can’t I be as solid as this man? Nothing rattles him. I’m dismantling an old, bitten, scratched up crib and I may cry so hard I need to sit down.”
(Spoiler Alert: I did cry so hard, and I did need to sit down.)
“Can you believe we’ve had this crib for 6 years? And just like that, we’re taking it apart.”
Pat replied with his signature smirk, “And this is the LAST time we’ll ever take it apart.”
He was referring to our 3 moves in 5 years, not our years-long debate about having a third baby (well, I had done most of the debating…he sat and listened and adamantly shook his head). But as he glanced up to smile at me he saw the blotchy mess that was my face and heard my feeble attempt at a chuckle, and it clicked.
“It’s just…so final, you know? For six years this crib has been a constant in every one of our apartments…it’s kept two babies safe and secure, and now it’s just…going on the curb, you know? It’s just so…it’s the end of an entire era in our lives, you know?”
“You want to hear something funny?” He was attempting funny. “This is the most expensive piece of furniture we owned for all those years. Isn’t that funny? We sat on that cheap Ikea couch, but the crib…and it really held up! All those moves, taking it apart, putting it back together. And it stayed in great shape every time. A crib was our most expensive….pretty funny, right?”
I laughed- partly because he was right, but mostly because after all of our years together he knows exactly what I need. He knew he had to redirect before I crumbled like a stale cookie (much like the ones that are in various states of mummification underneath the car seats in my truck).
He knew I was going to run my fingers over every little dent and baby-tooth bite mark on its smooth surface, and remember tickling their chins and saying, “If you’re hungry you need to tell Mommy; don’t go eating the good furniture!”
He knew that as I turned the Allen wrench I’d reminisce about the day we excitedly took it out of the box and started putting it together, even though I was only 5 months into a high-risk pregnancy that had already almost ended twice…“Remember? It was in our little one-bedroom apartment in Garfield. And Jacqi and Alex walked in and I was sitting on the floor working on my half, and Jacqi said ‘Wow! You finally popped! Look at that belly, you finally look pregnant!’ Remember that?”
He knew I’d stare furtively at it through the window after we had placed it on the curb, and that I’d wonder how it was suddenly over. An entire chapter of our lives- a chapter I wasn’t ready to see being taken away by a garbage truck.
He knew that no matter how diligently my common sense (and our bank accounts) tried to convince me that we couldn’t expand our family, my heart twisted and turned with yearning for one more little face that would stare up at me from that crib, reaching out for a bottle or a blanket or a 2 a.m. cuddle session.
So as we walked back into the house after leaving 6 years of our lives up against the sidewalk, he turned around, placed his hands gently on my shoulders, looked at me with that steady, calm gaze of his, and said, “I do remember putting that crib together in our little one-bedroom apartment. And now look at where we are. Look where these six years have taken us. How far we’ve come. It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?”
I hate when he’s right.
I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t anymore.
I had to smile as Gracie bounced around excitedly while we re-arranged her furniture. I had to laugh when she ran into her bedroom and exclaimed, “It’s my new magical big-girl room! It’s so cute! I just LOVE it!!” I had to smirk a little bit while she perused the area rugs at Target an hour later and declared, “Yes, that one. Fuzzy pink. I would like that one please. For my magical big-girl room.”
It was an ending, yes. It was an ending I knew was coming. It was an ending that I knew was going to wrench my emotions into a knot that landed somewhere in the pit of my stomach.
But it was also a beginning.
We had survived painful, high-risk, frightening pregnancies. We had survived sleepless nights and mystery infant illnesses and first boo-boos and pureed sweet potato crusted all over the walls (and the dog). We had survived 2 a.m. feedings and the horrors of teething and the torture of breast pumps and the wincing of my credit card every time I ordered another case of formula.
And as much as I wasn’t ready to leave all of that behind me (because believe it or not, you do miss it ALL when it’s over), I started to realize that I have so much more in front of me.
There will (barring divine intervention or a failed vasectomy) never be another crib in my house. But there is a full-size bed with Spider-Man sheets that’s perfect for cuddling with Vince while reading Harry Potter and exploring the ever-confusing world of Pokemon.
There will never be another newborn cry summoning me into a bedroom at 2 a.m…but almost daily I hear a 5:30 a.m. giggle as Gracie, enjoying her new crib-less freedom, pops into my bedroom, hops into my bed, and snuggles against me.
There will never be another bout of morning sickness or a frantic run to Shop-Rite at 11:30 at night because all I can hold down are lemons dipped in chocolate pudding…well, actually, I’m okay with not revisiting that.
So I’m not exactly the poster-child for “Don’t cry because it’s over- smile because it happened!”
I’m more of an, “It’s over and I’m going to hide in the bathroom for five minutes and sob my damn head off until I can’t breathe, and you can’t stop me!” kinda girl.
But I guess it’s time to wipe my eyes, blow my nose and move forward.
One might say it’s the beginning of an era. And from where I’m standing, it’s looking pretty good.