Seven years and a few months ago, I was given a mission. Intern year was about to end and I was going to have a week off from residency. Hannah was due in about 2 months and it was time to get a nursery together.
Colors were all picked out for the walls, a very ambitious plan of pink on the top two-thirds of the wall and green and white vertical stripes on the bottom third, separated by a white chair rail. On top of that, the nursery furniture was about to come in and needed to be set up. After miraculously getting the chair rail right and getting some beautiful, sharp stripes on the wall, I set about setting up the crib.
Since that time, the crib has been up in some shape or form housing one of my children. We moved Hannah from the old house to this house in the crib, took the front off and turned it into a toddler bed. Right before Amelia was set to be born, Hannah got her own big girl bed and the crib was set back up, waiting to provide restful comfort to another McKenna.
For the most part, Amelia has been happy to occupy the crib. Certainly, there have been occasional adventures outside of the crib. To my surprise, since that fateful day in June there had been no more attempts to escape from the crib. In fact, most mornings when I go in there and she is awake, Amelia seems perfectly content to play and read in her crib. However, the time has come to take the next steps. She is already sleeping in a cot at daycare and not in a pack and play. It was time to move Amelia to a big girl bed.
Amelia can be a bit particular and set in her ways, so when we brought this idea up to her after church yesterday we weren’t sure how it would go. But quickly Amelia was excited to get a “big girl bed” and say “bye-bye kib”. So upon our return home, we set about transitioning her into a whole new room. First step, dismantling the crib.
I was initially excited for this to occur. It was the right time and Amelia seemed ready. But I was surprised at what this meant to me from the moment I put wrench to bolt. Seven years is a long time for one piece of furniture. But for some reason, I thought it would be so much longer. When you are in a place for so long with small children, you get focused on the day to day activities and think that that is where you will always be. They will always be small, wearing diapers and sleeping in cribs. But all of a sudden, they are riding school buses, sleeping in regular beds and talking in full sentences.
I used to think that parenting was going to get easier once the early stages were passed. I would have more experience to deal with whatever those wily kids would throw at me and anything has to be easier than getting up every few hours to feed a newborn or constantly be changing diapers and having to carry an ever heavier bundle around. But as I have begun to realize, that first step was just the warm-up for the real challenges ahead.
For at least before, I had more control over the situations. I knew where each child was going and was watching over them very closely. But with more abilities comes more independence. And with more independence comes more wild cards.
Hannah is in first grade now and I am more nervous than ever. Now the grades count. I can help her study and answer any questions that she may have, but from here on out, she has to do it. I have zero control over her performance. When we ask her if she has any homework and she says “No”, we more or less need to trust that she is telling the truth. Are things really going okay with her friends? Is she really happy? So many variables and so much less control.
With the dismantling of the crib and tucking the pieces into a far corner of the crawl space, it would seem we are officially on to the next stage of parenting. Much like becoming a parent, I am not sure if I am exactly read and I am sure that I don’t truly traps exactly what is in store for me. But the future is hurtling at me like a runaway train. Its time to grab on to something and get ready for the ride to the next stop. But I may need to take a break in a cozy pink tent in the corner for some respite on occasion, just to gather my thoughts.