There are times in my parenting journey that I can feel it all slipping by too quickly. I just want to stand still and make time stand still with me.
Will turns three years old on Saturday.
Wait. [Cue screeching, scratching record sound.] What?
Will. Turns. Three. Saturday.
I can type it with as much punctuation as I want and I will still be in a bit of shock and a tiny bit of depression about it. My mom always says, "Well, you don't want the alternative!" No, I don't. I am so desperately glad to have healthy, growing, aging children. That doesn't mean that I still don't get a tug on the ol' heart strings watching them get bigger, more independent, and just a tiny bit further away from those little babies they once were (Emma throws tantrums now. TANTRUMS. Albeit mini-tantrums that are almost laughable when compared to the tantrums of a three year old, but tantrums all the same and certainly a harbinger of things to come.).
Given my "If I Could Save Time In A Bottle Mentality" I did something completely out of character two days ago. I was futzing around on craigslist, looking when I should have been listing (story of my life), when I found IT.
By IT, I mean the bed Will has been coveting since he first saw it at his friend's house in November. The last time we came home from this particular friend's house where they played in it most of the time we were there, he walked into his own bedroom, looked sorrowfully at his own crib-turned-toddler-bed and said, "I need a big boy bed, Mommy."
Well, see, here's the thing. M and I purchased one of those fancy schmancy convertible cribs. It was quite a bit of money and I sold M on the practicality of it. "It's the only bed he'll ever need!" I proclaimed in all of my seven month pregnant glory (even if more than we had planned on spending, the crib was still an excellent deal and the very last one - my hormones were telling me someone else would buy it if we didn't RIGHT NOW). Of course, I meant it then, but I hadn't counted on all of his friends having these super cool beds and him having this plain old bed that isn't really a bed. It was just a crib with the side off. So, my mind got to thinking (always dangerous). . . what about getting him a true big boy bed for his third birthday?
The bed is $199 (plus tax) at Ikea. The bed canopy is $40 (plus tax). The mattress that they bought is $99 (plus tax). Altogether, we are looking at over $350 for all of it with taxes. That was way out of our budget for a birthday present. And besides, as M loved to remind me, we bought that specific crib so we would never have to buy a bed for him again. So, no big boy bed.
And then, I found IT. On Craigslist. For $100. All of it. The bed, the canopy, the mattress. I figured it was already sold, so I e-mailed "just to see". It wasn't sold. It was still available.
I asked my girlfriend if she could possibly go with me to disassemble it and haul it in her much larger SUV. I figured she would have other plans. She didn't. She was excited and eager to help.
So, now all that remained was asking M, which I chickened out and did over text. I figured he would say a resounding NO. He actually did say NO, but it wasn't resounding and I was very persistent and convincing (also rather out of character for me) and he relented.
Saturday morning, my girlfriend and I went to retrieve the bed. We brought it home and put the pieces in our garage.
Suddenly, I realized what I had done (am I the only one who realizes the true impact of their actions after they have already done something?). I had bought a BIG! BOY! BED! which meant that I had to take down the crib. Allen wrench in hand, piece by piece, screw by screw; I felt as if I was undoing my heart. As I pulled the slats and rails apart, I cried. I remembered his crib going up, I remembered bringing Will home to it, I remembered sleep training, I remember crawling into it when he wouldn't sleep alone (oh, I didn't mention that before now. . . oops) I remembered not so long ago when I cried when the front rail came off. . . Can you just hear the faint strains of "Memories"?
I realized that this buying of a big boy bed was actually very symbolic. You see, I do want to keep him little, but I don't want to hold him back. I want to encourage his growth and development. When he is ready, I want him to step forward, whether it be from my arms, a crib, our family home, our neighborhood, and someday, far beyond. My job is to get him ready for those steps and then to encourage him to take those steps, cheering him along all the way and catching him if he stumbles a bit. So I dried my tears and looked forward to all of the fun times to come in this new bed.
When the bed was up and ready, the Big Reveal was pretty priceless. He was SO excited! (I have shared the video on Facebook, but I am not sure how to share video from my phone here. If we aren't Facebook friends and you want to be, let me know through a comment or e-mail how to find you and I will.)
Then nighttime fell and it was actually time for him to sleep in the Big Boy Bed.
He didn't want his new big boy bed any more. It might have been fun to play with but it was time to sleep and he wanted his crib.
At this point, all of the crib pieces had been hauled down to the garage. Since it was a Craigslist purchase, M had assembled the new bed without benefit of instructions (although, honestly, Ikea instructions are rather worthless), and we had spent the better part of a day on this project. But I still got down on Will's level and asked him if he really wanted his old bed back (and I really didn't know what he would say). He thought about it for a minute and then slowly shook his head. "No, I keep my new bed."
We took bedtime a bit more slowly and I crawled in with him for a few minutes to get him settled. I rubbed his back, sang him a song (or ten), and we talked about how big and grown up he is getting in his new big boy bed. He was getting sleepy and I kissed his little head, smelling his freshly washed hair. I loved on my baby for a minute before crawling out of the bed. I paused at the door, half expecting (and a tiny bit hoping) he would call out to me, but he didn't. He was ready. And so was I.
We both grew a little bit.