jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

The Big Girl Crib


March 2014

My baby is still in a crib. I don’t mean like phat cribs on MTV with diamond bedazzles and an indoor treehouse. That would be Lindsey-Lo-tastic, but it’s not us. And I don’t mean that she’s necessarily sleeping in a crib this minute. Because it might be nap-time right now and that would mean she was actually napping… But I do mean that the sleeping platform with a mattress on it and bars all around the edges in her bedroom? That’s technically a crib.

Did I mention she’s three-and-a-half? That’s a little bit shameful to write, if I do say so myself. She weighs about ten pounds less than her big brother. And he’s six, a BIG six, if we’re being fully honest.


March 2014

There’s no doubt she’ll be moving to a bed soon, but I just can’t seem to do it right now. Because we’ll move her from the crib to the big girl bed with the big girl sheets and the big girl comforter and the big girl books.

And the big girl dreams.

And the big girl.

And I argue that we will get a big girl bed soon enough, that the logistics of fitting a bed into a room that is more of a small office than a bedroom is too overwhelming, and most of all, that the remaining pieces of the other half of her brother’s bunk bed, bought four years ago to eventually become her bed, is lost somewhere in what we affectionately call the “bad basement.” The dust! The spiders! Ack. Who knows where the parts of her bed are now?

But last night I realized what the problem is.

We’ve gotten her out of diapers and into big girl panties at night, but of late with only so-so success. So I’ve instituted the “late night pee call.”

I remember distinctly doing this with her older brothers.

Jasper was a dead weight. He would leave his long body stretched as I struggled to lift him out of bed. He’d flop like a big, dry fish in my arms. He’d nod and whimper and mumble in garbled tongues while I helped him on the potty. By the time we’d head back to bed he’d sort of wrap his legs around my body, throw his arms over my shoulders like sacks of oranges. I’d nuzzle my face right into the sweet spot between his ear and collarbone and just breathe in his warmth. Sometimes I’d even say, “I’ve got you. I will always carry you. Mama will always carry you.” Because I knew I did not.

Then I’d head down the hall to his younger brother and do the same. Mica would be flailed on his bed, contorted like he’d been electrocuted, all arched back and crazy angled arms. When I’d lift him he would immediately fold in on himself, and hang on to me, a rhesus monkey from the science text books, his seemingly hollow legs tightly wound around my middle, his slender arms snaked around my neck through my hair. I’d walk down the hall wearing him like a bamboo chest of armor, with no need to even use my arms to hold him, and he’d worm his face into the warm spot between my ear and collarbone and snuffle.

His twin sister never needed the late night potty call. By the time Reid stopped wearing diapers she’d been dry for ages, sleeping each night spread out belly up like a starfish in the middle of her bed, her tentacle toes escaping the blankets. When I’d stop by her bed after putting her brother back to bed, sometimes her eyes would pop open and she’d say, “Night, Mama,” as if she’d been playing possum for four hours, waiting to see if I would remember to tuck her in.

Now this is done for the oldest three. They all sleep through the night, sprawled or curled, still or agitated. I walk into their rooms, adjust the blankets, lay my hand on their foreheads, kiss a hand or cheek, or whatever lingers closest to me, catching the moonlight.


March 2014

But my baby…

This one is the last. And so when I picked her up to take her to the bathroom last night, I felt that surge inside me that I’m feeling more and more these days.

Something is ending. Something is beginning. Something is ending. Something is end-ing.

She wrapped her thick arms around my neck, her legs around my middle, a koala bear cub, solid and warm. “Mama,” she mumbled. “Mama is here. Mama is here,” I whispered back.

And so I brought her into the potty and then back again. Hefted her large girl’s body over the side of her ridiculous crib and watched as she stretched her legs out, still just shy of the bottom of the crib where dirty socks, a pile of books, stuffed animals and a naked baby doll lie tangled. Then she rolled to her side and curled into the shape of a snail shell, a curved ear, an ultrasound picture, the youngest of my children, my baby.

And she fell fast asleep in her big girl crib.


March 2014

9 comments on “The Big Girl Crib

  1. Margie S
    March 10, 2014

    It is difficult to say good bye to those things that remind us of our growing children, especially when you know it is the last. It is funny you are writing about this. When my son was three, he begged me for his new bed and it was such a happy occasion for him that we ended up with a photo montage of this momentous event.

    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      It’s crazy that she hasn’t asked for the big girl bed. Maybe she feels the pull, too? Or maybe, she can’t resist her own private box filled with soft, smelly things? It’s coming soon though… soon.

  2. giselacarmona
    March 10, 2014

    I love reading your posts, Jen… I can find my feelings towards motherhood, children and the growing pains so similar to yours that almost always – happens even with the funny posts – a tear makes its way out of the corner of an eye… Have an amazing week, amazing Mom!!

    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      Oh, thank you for such a lovely comment!
      This weekend, during an especially poignant moment in the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman my 3 year-old daughter said, “My eyes are making water!” But isn’t that just life? Cry until you laugh, laugh until you cry.

  3. Perfection Pending
    March 12, 2014

    I’m feeling that too right now with my youngest. I see milestones he hits, and get this nagging feeling that it’s the last time. My 5yo is a crazy deep sleeper too. I wonder if I should try the late night potty run with him. If we aren’t super vigilant about making him go right before bed, we frequently have accidents.

    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      I love the late night potty run. And at a certain point, we just stopped. And except for a very occasional accident from the gentlemen, there’s been no problem. And I have to say, something about having the excuse to pick up a sleeping child and carry them a little bit is just delicious.

  4. Heidi
    March 13, 2014


    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      Ah, you know my little sleeping girl. (And I know yours.)

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This entry was posted on March 7, 2014 by in Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .

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