I hadn't set out to write about this, but when it happened, the weight of it took me by surprise. Motherhood, if nothing else, is a series of ups (major ups) and downs. I've learned that I can never anticipate what's coming, just hold on for dear life and get ready for the ride. When I started this blog, I thought about having it be simply a place to share surface advice, recipes and experiences. However, as someone who feels deeply and tends to ponder, sometimes an experience is too strong to just hold in my head. Even if I'm the only one who reads the thoughts I express here, it's something that is important for me to share.
Our youngest (the "baby") started consistently jumping (climbing is too mild a word) out of his crib earlier than expected this past summer, at about 2.5 years old. I wasn't ready, but after finding him downstairs one morning waiting for his breakfast at 3AM, I knew that it was time to get him into a real bed. As a stop-gap measure, we took out his crib mattress and put it on the floor next to his crib, with lots of buttressing around it to feel nice and snug. Our plan was to get a new bed shortly afterwards, along with new bedding, etc and get him all set up. This was in July.
One thing led to another and BOOM it was December. I mean....it was a bit ridiculous. An empty crib next to a mattress on the floor. Not exactly ideal. We had everything picked out for his room, including the bed, but I still was dragging my feet. At a certain point, I didn't even realize that I was doing it.
However, I WAS doing it! As long as that crib was there (the crib we proudly bought after PAINSTAKING research 7 years ago), I didn't have to acknowledge the fact that this was it. The crib with the little bite marks from my babies needed to be dismantled. Not moved to another room, not fitted with a new set of sheets for the next baby. Dismantled...because there will be no more babies. Yup, I said it. There will be no more babies.
I'll spare you details of what happened next, but my darling husband (who knows me perhaps better than I know myself) decided that he'd had enough of my dithering, and started dismantling the crib with my son on a Saturday night at 8PM. I quickly realized what was happening, but didn't really think about it until...I thought about it. The symbolism of my son dismantling the crib we bought for him. The fact that I will never again put a sweet little baby into that crib. The fact that the little mattress that saw 3 newborns, many tears and many sweet, sweet moments was going to be put away.
I often feel as mothers, we don't talk enough about some of the more painful milestones and rights of passage that happen along the way. How having a baby may not in fact be easy or just "happen". It may be the hardest thing we've ever tried to do. How pregnancies are miraculous, and in that miracle can come heartbreak, risk and moments of terror. How much it hurts after childbirth, and how horribly lonely it can be after being cherished and pampered for 9+ months. How freaking HARD it is to admit to ourselves, and others that we are DONE. Even in the hospital after my third son, ALL the nurses asked me when we'd be going for our girl! A major function of our body will no longer be used. My answer to those nurses? I will never have a baby girl. The baby chapter is over for me.
True story....before my last c-section, I had opted to get my tubes tied while under the knife to make everything easier. When I was in the hospital, it came time to give the nurse my final decision and I just...couldn't. It felt so final. I KNEW this would be my last pregnancy, but I couldn't bear in that moment to acknowledge that yes, that chapter of my life had ended. Now, I must do so and perhaps that's why I've chosen to document it here.
So, what's next? Therein lies the beauty. Just as with everything in life, we have choices. We can become mired in the past. We can mourn what is no longer. We can complain about how things have changed. I'm not going to do that. I love being a mama. I look back on my journey of bringing my babies into the world, and I love every single joyful, painful, unbearable, miraculous, magical and life-changing minute of it. That's not the end of my story though. The truth is, I'm READY for this. I feel in my heart that our family is complete, and I know also that I cannot give my boys what they need with another child in the mix. Let's be honest, even a dog feels hugely overwhelming at the moment. There is a real sense of peace in this knowledge. This is a a knowledge that I did NOT have after my second son by the way. To me, just being able to make that choice was a huge gift.
I'm a mom to three boys, I'm a wife to an amazing husband who I've been lucky enough to grow up with. That's NOT my whole story. There are more chapters to be written, I have more life to live. I also know that there are MANY more memories and amazing moments to come as I help my sons grow, develop and eventually learn who they are meant to be. My job is to prepare them for that day when they can fly all on their own (as long as they call me once a week of course!).
So that's it. As is my way, I choose to reflect on the past, and take lessons from it but not mourn for days that have passed. Instead, I will focus on being the best mother and wife I can be, and write my own next chapter. It's up to ME to make it the best one yet.