When Seth was a baby, we lived in an older house in Birmingham with beautiful hardwood floors. There was a time when the only way I could get him to bed was to rock him until he was completely and totally asleep and then tip-toe to his crib to lay him gingerly down. We would rock, I would sing, and finally when his eyelids closed, I would count to 25. Then, I would hold my breath and begin the short journey from the rocker to the crib. It seemed more often than not I would step on one of those old floorboards and "creak..." His eyes would spring open, and I would return to the rocker to begin the process all over again.
Once we moved to Knoxville, he moved into a "big boy" bed. And bedtime meant lengthy snuggles until he fell asleep. When we made the transition from crib to twin bed, we told Seth that it was "just like" his crib, and he needed to call for one of us before getting out of bed in the morning. Being the obedient child that he is, he followed this rule...until he was nearly nine.
As a parent, in those moments, I felt like these routines would continue forever. I really couldn't imagine a night when I didn't have to rock him or snuggle with him until he fell asleep. Then, I wondered if he would call me from his college dorm room to ask permission to get out of his bed each morning. Yet, as I sit here remembering, I can't recall the exact moment these routines ended. More often it seems like I'm jolted awake, and I realize that something is different.
Tonight is one of those moments. I sit typing in a quiet house with Reed sleeping in one bedroom and Seth sleeping in another. It's official: they no longer share a bedroom. Ever since Reed graduated to his "big boy" bed six years ago they have been roommates, but this summer Seth acknowledged he'd like his own room. So, after dragging it out as long as I could, yesterday Tim and I spent the day moving Seth out of "their" room and into "his" room. Thankfully the boys were at my mother-in-law's, so I could work -- tireless and tearless.
While my head logically knows this move across the hall is no big deal, my heart feels it is significant. It's like when you bring home your second child, your first child instantly seems so much bigger, so much older. Just walking into Seth's room tonight I was caught off guard by his long body curled up with book-in-hand. It seems I have been jolted awake to discover that my toddler is now nearly a teenager.
I am going to miss, probably more than anyone, the sight of them in their bunk beds and the sound of them chatting it up long after the lights go out. But to make the transition easier (for who?) I put walkie-talkies on their nightstands. Tonight before I could walk from Reed's room to Seth's room to tuck him in, I heard his walkie-talkie beep. "Good night," came Reed's voice. "Good night," Seth replied. Smile.
After eleven years of motherhood I am finally learning how fleeting all of it is, from the little things (diapers, bottles, naptimes) to the big things (snuggling in the bed, reading to them, holding hands in public), and I am learning to cherish it all. I want to breathe them in, soak them up, and marvel at this great gift I have been given to parent them. So, tonight as I dry these tears and turn off the laptop, it is to two bedrooms I will visit before I tuck myself in. Mental note: January 2, 2011 - the start of a new routine.