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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Over the past couple of weeks, we've accumulated all the necessary accoutrements for Alexandra's graduation from crib to big girl bed. First the mattress was delivered; then Alex and I picked out her bedding; finally, yesterday afternoon, the frame itself was delivered. We had decided it was time for several reasons.
She could, and did, climb in and out of her crib, and indeed that had turned into a now favorite morning ritual of her getting up, turning on her own lights and coming to crawl in our beds, announcing "I'm awake! I'm ready to start the day. I turned on my lights by myself!"
She has been too big for her pack n play for quite some time, and the last time we took her camping, and before that, to California, she had to sleep diagonally in it. This year we'd like to go back to California, and we knew it would be way, way too small. It was time to get her acclimated.
Further, lugging a goddamn pack n play places sucks. It takes up valuable car space that the dog could be using in order to sprawl out more comfortably. Plus just stuff. I hate stuff, man. But I love spending money on it? Whatever, that's another post.
Anyways, there were a couple of reasons to maybe not do it already. She LOVES her crib, loves hunkering down within its safe and snug barriers. Each time I'd check her out in there, all snuggled up, like this...
... I would always say to Todd, "Man, I wish I had a crib."
And then there's the other, obvious reason: changing to a big girl bed means she's growing up, growing older. No more snuggles, no more Word World or Elmo, no more fruit pouches and kissing boo-boos. No more shared tub times, no more Dee or Ha-Ha. It means one day she'll recoil in horror if I try to hug her, and will curse me to hell if I try to hug her in public. One day she'll move out. She'll get married, have her own kids and our relationship, while always strong and always there, will take a back burner as she very rightfully puts her own little family above her old one.
Ooh, does that sound over dramatic? Does that sound like I'm jumping the gun? Well, I'm not. Every little step leaves me so painfully aware of how fleeting a childhood is, but how, in painful contrast, everlasting and ever-changing parenthood is. I never realized that, of course, why would I, until I became a mother. Oh, how it hit me. Death itself seemed to loom on the horizon. Tick tock, it goes so fast.
I said last night after the bed was put together, "This is kind of breaking my heart." I was smiling as I said it, gazing down at her lolling about on that little twin bed, so dwarfed by our own king, but that looked as wide and empty as an ocean with her little body bobbing on it. But it was kind of true. It broke in good ways and in bad ways, broke out of joy for something that pleased Alex so much, broke out of sorrow for knowing that the first three years of her life have already been experienced, that there is no going back.
What's funny is I didn't realize how affected I was until I started writing this. I was going to talk more about the bed, but here I am, forced to confront mortality and the fragility of human connection, all thanks to a little twin bed.
Before Todd and I got married, my father stopped by my place of work with an old photo of me. I was about 10 or 12, with an old vintage hat on my head. My dad had these hats and some cool feather masks as decoration in his cool boho San Diego apartment, and I was horsing around with them. It was my first visit to see him after the divorce. We were giddy, and I think that came through in the photo, from me and from him, the photographer. Anyway, he came in and held it up to me and said "Where did she go? I miss that kid, and she's gone forever."
It hurt my feelings. I said "daddy, she's here, I'm right here" and didn't understand. But now I do. It was a month maybe before he'd be walking me down the aisle, symbolically and perhaps a bit literally giving his girl away to the new man in her life. The beginning of the end. Too vividly do I understand what he meant now.
When you do not have children, and I'm not being self-righteous or sanctimonious here, for there are slews of markers in one's life to show the passing of time (I'm looking at you, laugh lines, there is nothing funny about YOU), but when you do not have these little juggernauts running around you, the honesty of life's passing can seem a lot more vague. But when a child who came out of your body gets her big girl bed, and amazingly enough, adjusts 100% without trauma or difficulty, you feel dizzy a little bit, woozy maybe from the lightning snap passage of time.
Where did those three years go? Soon, it will be 10, 20, 30. It will be gone. Life will have happened, man, but you're standing there, missing your babies, thinking about the first big girl bed, wondering what color the bedspread was. Will I remember how easily she adapted to it? How I sneaked into her room that night, on my knees beside her bed, and rested my palm on her chest, felt the unconcerned, confident rising and falling of her breathing, gazed in awe at her dusk-soaked profile, mouth slightly open, black lashes like open fans resting on her cheeks, beauty and perfection radiating from her? How I wanted to cry, out of pride at her sleeping there like she'd been sleeping in a big bed her whole life, out of sorrow that she was no longer my little baby in her little crib? How writing these words made those unshed tears come down the next morning?
I don't want to forget. I don't want to move forward. I want to live here forever.