Bye Bye, Baby (Crib)
Sometimes I jump the gun on things. I get an idea in my head and I just want to execute– it’s in my nature to get things done when I feel they need doing. Because of this, every now and then, my emotions are not always caught up to my actions.
We successfully potty trained my two-year-old. That meant, I thought, removing the crib so that he could get out to go potty at night. I had a firm agenda of freeing up space in his room, which he shares with his brother. We have bunk beds and Conrad has been sleeping on top since we moved in while the bottom was floor level (without a mattress) and served as a little play area.
After we removed the crib!
Newly freed up space excites me, which means I’m in the right business. It’s what I do all day, every day with my clients. The bigger the mess, the bigger the gain. I’m the master of the post-decluttering Tetris game and I haven’t had a client that wasn’t surprised and delighted yet.
It’s what we KonMari consultants do.
We. Make. Space.
But I realized, as I tearfully watched my DeForest crawl into his big boy bed, that I too am susceptible to the emotional consequences of letting go. I realized that a chapter was ending. Babies sleep in cribs. Babies don’t sleep in big boy beds. Babies wear diapers. Babies don’t wear Elmo underwear.
I’m not saying I rushed his potty training. He tells us when he has to go potty in the night and of course stalls sleep by going 8 times before bed so he doesn’t even really go at night. He is king of the Elmo throne and couldn’t be prouder of his success. DeForest is, however, very afraid of his new big bed. This results in me or my husband being held hostage next to him every night until he falls asleep sometime after 9pm. Once he does fall asleep, he often wakes up in the middle of the night crying for Mama. The crib has already been taken apart and destined for a family in need so there is no going back. I didn’t rush potty training, but I might have been hasty with his new bed.
This is surely natural but makes me wonder if I pushed too fast. I was excited about the added floor space and their room to play, but am I paying an unexpected price as he pulls at my heartstrings every night? I also question my own psychology and wonder if I expedited the change because just the anticipation of it was going to be hard. So, I hit the fast forward button. My subconscious was probably shouting, “fine, grow up already if you are going to grow up and wound my heart and find some woman and leave your old mother behind!”
Okay, that was a little dramatic.
But in fairness to myself we are reminded of how fast they sprout when, for every phase of growth, toys and baby gear leave the house. My husband was thoughtful to point out that it’s a sign that we have a healthy growing boy. Sigh, he’s always right. My emotions are ones of conflict, though, I know I’m not alone here. I’m happy to see the “stuff” go but sad to see my child grow so fast. We don’t plan on more children, which is why it feels different this time.
Many of my clients who know they are not having more children also struggle with letting go of the baby stuff. It makes it feel more official that the child-rearing window is closing. My ovaries are saying, “noooo” and “are you sure?!” My intellectual, practical self (who also needs even numbers and we were not going for a fourth kid) says, “um, we done folks.”
Marie Kondo talks a lot about letting go with gratitude and it’s a cornerstone of her philosophy. I’m doing just that. As I’m delighted to have the new space that comes with baby gear going out the door, I remember to take pause. I appreciate that, while it all certainly crowded the house, the bouncer, the high chair, the swing, the changing table, and the crib sparked so much joy. Those things– things that sucked up and monopolized space– soothed and cuddled my children and gave me much needed breaks. They also provided us a way to exchange intimate moments.
My empathy for my clients and their many transitions runs deep. I have felt, or am feeling, what they’re working through. It’s not just stuff. It’s the memories triggered by the stuff.
Yet I’m reminded that the appreciation for those things makes parting with them a bit easier. Finding happy new homes for those items also helps. But most of all, I tell my clients that the happy marks those things imparted on their lives won’t ever fade and that the more we can live in the now (thanks, Eckhart Tolle) and imagine a beautiful future, the richer life will be.