I snagged my son’s crib off a listing on Craigslist.
It was an Ikea one, simple but sturdy, and came with the mattress. All for $40. I stood in the Craigslist stranger’s garage, surrounded by other outgrown baby gear and two kids who rode their bikes in and out without much regard for who was in the way. The original owner told me how to put it together, and as I handed her the money and put the pieces in my Jeep, I wondered if she was sad to be giving up this season of her motherhood. On the outside she didn’t seem to be. She seemed relieved that it was going, making space for the next one.
Like many naïve first time moms, I thought that crib would be used right away.
And why wouldn’t it? It was set up perfectly with matching sheets and a bumper (breathable of course), which coordinated with the mobile I made by hand.
My little boy didn’t appreciate any of that. He would not sleep lying flat. So, the crib and all its accessories were useless for some time.
He spent the next four months in a rock n play by the side of our bed.
Around the four month mark it became clear he couldn’t sleep in the rock n play forever. The top of his head was inching closer to the edge and his feet were close to hanging off the end. What was I going to do now? I considered calling Fisher Price and begging them to make a bigger version. He was a great sleeper in that thing, and I dreaded transitioning him to the crib.
We picked a day to start the transition into the crib, and I worried about it all week.
What if he never sleeps again? Will he know he’s not in our room anymore? Will he think I’ve left him all alone? The night arrived and all my anxiety about it resulted in no sleep — for me. He slept just fine.
This is how most of our transitions have gone.
I worry about it. I avoid it. When it finally happens, it turns out it’s never a big deal.
Fast forward to another big transition — moving him OUT of the crib.
My 2-year-old was racing towards 3, and growing at the same rate. He was still doing well in the crib and had yet to climb out, but I knew the time was coming. My husband kept suggesting we do it sooner than later. I always had an excuse about how he wasn’t really ready yet, or this weekend was too busy to make a big change –anything, really, to push it back.
The truth was I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready to give up a familiar and effective bedtime routine. I wasn’t ready to risk sleep to an uncontained toddler. I wasn’t ready to dismantle and pack away one of the last ties to his babyhood.
With a deep breath and a prayer I finally agreed to face whatever this transition would bring. My hesitation was overshadowed by my son’s excitement. He was giddy with the idea of a big boy bed and gathered his tools to help Dad take the crib down. As the screws loosened, my throat tightened and tears threatened.
The evolution of the crib came full circle.
I was suddenly transported, still in my son’s nursery, but reminiscing about watching my husband put the crib together for the first time. He had put one of the rails on backwards and had to take the whole thing apart to fix it.
I was back to the first time I carefully laid my baby down in the bed the day we got home from the hospital; he barely took up any space. I saw the morning when I was greeted by a triumphant, smiling face peeking over the rail as he had figured out how to pull himself up. Then there were the nights I sat on the floor, holding his hand or rubbing his foot. And that time when nothing I did was working, so I eventually climbed in with him, my limbs going numb from the unnatural position I was in while sleep finally found him.
All the screws were out and the bed pieces were stacked and ready to be stored. Crib season, the foundation of my motherhood, was over.
This transition, like the ones in the past, has been a breeze for my son.
None of the things I worried about have happened but our bedtimes do look different now. We no longer sit in the rocking chair to read and I don’t have to sit on the floor and stretch my hands through bars. He doesn’t always need me to lay with him as he goes to sleep, but sometimes I stay anyway. I put his blanket over his long legs, and he makes sure I’m covered up too. I rub his foot and we sing Wheels on the Bus and he tells me silly stories that only make sense to an almost 3-year-old.
Someday, much too soon, he won’t want me in his bed anymore, so I’m taking what crib season taught me and soaking up the joys of every fleeting phase.
Michelle is a thirty something working mama, wife, and Midwest girl that lives by the ocean in Southwest Florida. Full-time thinker, part-time writer. Lover of strong coffee and cheap red wine. Find her on the beach not relaxing with her toddler, in the kitchen trying to replicate her grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, or up to her neck in craft supplies attempting to become the next Pinterest prodigy. She writes at lifebetweenoceans.blogspot.com.