We threw away our children’s crib today.
We couldn’t give it away because ours was a drop down, which has been banned from production by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Basically, my children slept in death traps for years although since I could only find a handful of photos of them in the crib and more than half of the photos had hair pulling and baby crushing, we could’ve taken care of causing catastrophes all on our own.
I posted back in December that Scott took down the crib (and mocked me). I don’t think I mentioned that I wouldn’t allow Scott to get rid of it even though it would take a surgery to allow us to make a baby and our crib was deadly-ish.
With all I left behind to be a stay-at-home mom, not having the crib scared me. I know that I made the best decision for my family back in 2006. Time and again, my life has unfolded not as I planned or wanted but as it should. And although I spent much time fearing that “as it should” would be disappointing and lonely and embarrassing, the roles I played, when I have let go, are my strongest and most joyful.
My senior year of high school, my A.P. English teacher asked us a series of essay questions about ourselves and the one that kept coming to mind today was: “Where will you be in 10 years?”
I wrote: “Happy.”
A decade later, at 27 years old, I was putting together that crib while wielding my belly full of my son, and I was very happy. I didn’t know, at 17 and living in Connecticut, happiness would look like me laughing in a small row home in Richmond, Virginia next to a man I could not love more. I didn’t know how I would find happy. Over those 10 years, I went to college. I went to medical school. I dated people. I made friends. I forgot about friends. I went to concerts. I learned about the world. I studied religions. I laughed. I cried. I made so many attempts to be happy, and I failed almost as many times.
I kept forgetting where happiness began. I needed to stop looking for how the world would make everything okay and start noticing that everything was okay. And on those days when everything wasn’t okay, I needed to stop asking the world to fix it. I needed to stop thinking that help is on another continent. Or was in the next town over. Or in another school degree, job, person, or baby. The journey to happiness is just a step and most of the work is on the inside.
For the past 6 years, the crib was a sign of who and where we were. A young family with babies. A growing family. A family that needed me home. But today, we threw the crib away. We are not a family with babies. We are not growing. We think that we still need me to be home most days because my daughter is home most days, but we do not need to make space for a crib.
I was reminded, as I saw the crib resting against our trash cans and wanted to feel sad and worried that I had made the wrong choice either to stay home or to not have more babies or somewhere in between, that my happiness is in me. The me who doesn’t know what my world looks like without the crib is the same me who didn’t know what my world would look like with the crib and the same me who at 17 just wanted to be happy.
And I am. And I will be. Not knowing how I get there is half the fun.