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