One recent day, I returned home from errands with my girls to find my husband and little boys standing in the driveway, grinning. They were hanging Christmas lights on the front of our house. Clearly, they were relishing the opportunity to help daddy with such a fun and important task. I admired their difficult and very creative work. It’s good to learn the art and science of domestic holiday illumination from an early age. Even two-year-old Ollie felt like he was part of the team, evidenced by his breathless chattering and pointing at the “Chris-chris wights.”
Then, I noticed something.
Propped against our former washing machine were the spindled remnants of a disassembled crib. Two ends, two sides, one metal mattress grate, reclined. “You took apart the crib?” I stammered.
My husband said yes, and he put together the toddler bed. It was upstairs in Ollie’s room, ready for the night. He was pleased.
I cried. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t sure Ollie was ready.
The Sears Jenny Lind crib was purchased by my parents as a gift to us when I was pregnant with Aidan 18 years ago. It’s been in use for nearly 17 1/2 years, constantly. It’s held all 9 of our children as they slept, thrashed, barfed, fevered, dreamed, sang, jumped, played, pooped, gnawed, cried, sang, laughed, teethed, discovered feet, babbled.
Every one of our kids co-slept, too, for varying lengths of time. But each was an owner and occupant of the crib. Sometimes, certain kids were shuttled between our bed, the crib, back to our bed, and back to the crib numerous times a night. Some slept there well for years. Aidan only used it for 18 months, when Ryley was born. She graduated into the toddler bed my husband set up while I was away.
It has a reversible headboard. On one side, teddybears. On the other, the word “BED” in case you find yourself trying to shove a tray of raw cookie dough under the mattress. “Oh, BED! I was thinkin’ oven!”
My husband apologized profusely when I started to cry. Poor guy. We had talked about how Ollie would be moving on from the crib soon. I didn’t want that soon decided for me. I wanted a bit of a build up. I wanted to help. I watched it get put together the first time, in our little apartment, for our firstborn. Of course, it was taken apart and put back together several times. When we moved from town to town or from one bedroom to another, taking it apart made it easier.
This time, though, there isn’t a reason to put it back together.
Our Jenny Lind crib outlasted several sofas, couches, rocking chairs. It’s outlasted beds, tables, kitchen chairs. We had it longer than our piano, longer than several vehicles, longer than my entire wardrobe. We went through several strollers, baby swings, car seats, carriers, and high chairs. The crib was in our house longer than both dogs, the hamster, and the parade of fish we hosted once upon a time.
The only constant all our babies shared was that crib.
I type that. I snort. Nope. It’s not true. They shared us—the wacky lady who gets emotional, the patient gent with the wrench, and the love that bursts both our hearts. I can speak for him in this case. I happen to know it wasn’t easy for him, either.
Ollie, smaller, behind bars.
Now, we have a crib in pieces leaning against a busted washing machine in an otherwise tidy garage. Now, we have a big boy named Ollie.
At night, he sleeps in a BED. I am proud.