It was time.
Time for the baby to move out of our room into a crib in the boys’ room.
Time for the almost three year old to give his crib to the baby.
Time for the four year old to give up the toddler bed and move into a twin sized bed.
Time for the five boys to squeeze into one room.
It was time for bunk beds. Round two.
But I wasn’t ready.
As a matter of fact, the baby learned to sleep through the night over a month ago (Haaaaalelujah!) So it was time. He needed to get out of our room. We calculated that for Christmas we would invest in bunk beds. The grim-faced delivery men dropped off several imposing boxes a few days after the holiday. It was New Year’s Day when Daddy and his helpers got around to the fun of assembly.
It was an all-day project (as projects with so much “help” tend to be). I was mostly uninvolved, catching up on laundry, cleaning, and rudimentary cooking to keep us alive. (Found out the dining room smoke alarm was dead when I tried to cook a pizza for lunch, all in a day’s work…) The two littlest were out of sorts after days with schedules all askew. But I was impressed when two boys walked by carrying the vacuum in tandem. They guy-cleaned the rug before setting up the bed frames, and I was not in a position to complain. They fought for the right to wield the drill (with help), and jockeyed for position with the tape measure. They glowed with importance when asked to recharge a battery or be chosen to hold screws (your own might be loose if you trust a four year old with that job!) Their excitement was infectious. And yet, I managed not to catch it.
I had dragged my heels when my husband had offered to attempt the project on his day off. I just wasn’t in a hurry. True, we needed our bedroom back. No more holding our breath so as not to wake the baby when we went to bed late or got up early. No more sleeping on the pull-out in the living room while he learned to self-soothe. No more waiting for a bigger house to materialize. It was simply time.
But the thought of my still-just-two year old in a big twin-size bed grated against my cuddly, coddly mother hen-li-ness. It seemed normal for a baby sleeping in the crib to be incapable of getting himself in or out. It seemed odd for a child sleeping in a big bed to need the same level of help. Bunk bed ladders seemed tauntingly impossible for the child who couldn’t even climb a stair alone.
Late that night, as I checked in on the troop of five in solemn repose in their new beds, the sadness washed over me again. The baby looked so small in his corner of the new big crib he’d just inherited from the two year old. The toddler seemed dwarfed by the bunk bed mattress extending for a mile past his little legs. The two bigger boys in the older bunks were tucked around the corner, hard to reach. The room seemed ever so much smaller, now completely devoid of floor space and full of night breath. So full.
The next night, as soon as Daddy got home from work, I topped off the baby and handed over the reigns of bedtime duty. Grocery shopping is just so much more efficient without five helpers… I raced through the store in record time and turned back onto our street before the car was even warmed up. It wasn’t that late; cars were in most of the driveways, the residents still awake within the homes. Thin blue light of televisions reflected through many windows, others were dimly lit. I smiled as I pulled up to our humble abode at the end of the street. Lights blazed from nearly every window, spilling across the white snow banks, rays escaping around curtains. The overflowing recycling bin on the porch was guarded by two plastic dinosaurs. My house, so full. So full of life. It looked so deliciously inviting, warm, enticing. Alive.
Our electric bill is probably higher than our neighbors’ (and we don’t even have a t.v.). Our dishwasher and laundry machines work overtime comparatively. It comes with the territory. But our house is the one spilling over with laughter, conversation, stories, the hum of the vacuum, the smell of woodsmoke and always something cooking, always, something moving. Always life.
And it’s mine. I’m so blessed.
And my children, tucked snugly together in their little room, slept through the cozy night, as oblivious to our lack as I had been to my overflowing blessing.
Maybe it’s time I realized that.