Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rock Me Gently

Abruptly, it was decided that the time had come for Aidan to have his own room again, and for Pax to move in with Leo.

Which means the time has come to paint over the nursery.

 Which is much easier said than done.

For eight years and three months, I've sat in the light blue cushioned rocker -  and rocked.  Rocking.... reflecting, remembering, reconsidering, regretting, revisiting, renewing.

I rocked and read books in the month before Aidan's birth, anxiously awaiting his arrival. Killing time, dreaming, not fully believing I'd hold a baby in my arms, rock in that same chair with him.

Newly born, I rocked him to sleep. Night after night, nap after nap. Even though the books said not to, I did it. I felt mildly guilty, but I did it anyway. I nursed him in that chair, preferring its comfort and cushion over any other seat in the house. That chair, that nursery, became my escape.

I found out I was pregnant with another baby, and I loved rocking both of them to sleep. I gazed at the walls, still loving the colors we'd chosen, marveling over the time I spent agonizing over the theme, finding a corresponding plaid paper to complement the border. I was adamant over a non-gendered room. In retrospect, knowing I would give birth to three gorgeous boys, I'd choose the exact same thing again. I cannot imagine not watching every single boy fall in love with the hippo at eye level on the changing table......

I rocked our baby in my belly while I rocked our baby in my arms. I dreamed. I dreamed of a new room for Aidan, of him becoming a big brother. I wondered if we'd change the top color of the room, if it were a girl. I decided, no way. The yellow was too cheery. Nothing would look better.

And then I miscarried. And I rocked my sorrow. I rocked and rocked, tears streaming down my face, not yet ready to put my long-ago sleeping boy into his bed. I rocked until my sorrow dissolved into a form of acceptance, until my tired arms could no longer hold my lovely, living, breathing, beautifully asleep boy.

I rocked my hope. I rocked my anger, my frustration, my sadness. I rocked my joy, my delight, my happiness in the discoveries of each day, discoveries only the perspective of a young toddler can bring.

I rocked my joy. I rocked and rocked, knowing that this room was no longer fit for Aidan, that a new baby would fill the space. In December, just weeks before he was born, his crib was filled to overflowing with wrapped gifts. How clever I was, how resourceful - fill the crib with Christmas gifts, tempt the eyes of those who were to receive, yet keep them out of arm's reach. I loved that the gifts filled the spot that our true gift would soon fill - the gift of Leo Gabriel, named after the beloved grandfather and the angel who brought such good news to Mary. He was our good news.

I rocked through the hard days of transitioning to two babes. We made small changes to that room, wanting Leo to feel that it was own, yet knowing it was perfect for every baby. We hung the belly cast we'd made when I was still pregnant with Leo, framed photos of his beautifully sleeping self. We introduced him to the animals on the walls; the Lion's call was the first animal sound he learned.

Years later, I rocked and dreamed again. I was excited for Aidan and Leo, knowing they'd share a room together, to make room for another. I clung to the dream of our September baby, knowing he would be our last. I reveled in enjoying every final moment in that nursery: bringing him home; snuggling him in his crib; changing him on the 34 year old dresser, repainted and refinished; introducing him to hippo, twice torn, twice replaced.

I've read hundreds of books, thousands of pages sitting in that chair, ranging from "What to Expect When You're Expecting" to "Baby Days: Games to play with Newborns" to "Goodnight Moon" and "The Going to Bed Book" and "I Love You Forever" and "Owl Babies" and "The Kissing Hand...."

This room has borne witness to my greatest joys, my greatest sorrow, my deepest fears, my highest hopes and dreams. How impossibly attached I have become to butter yellow walls, pastel Malawi safari animals, and blue plaid paper. I never thought this nursery would bring so much solace and peace to my heart; in the waning days of being "nursery," I drank it in the gulps of a parched and dehydrated soul.

Long after Pax surrendered in slumber, I cradled him and rocked him and gazed at the ever-darkening room. I reflect on the day, remembering the joys and regretting the harsh words spoken, the impatient tap of the foot, the misunderstanding. I sink deeply, rehearsing how tomorrow will be different, planning my improvement.  I remind myself that I am doing the best I can do, and that I will do the same again tomorrow.  I forgive myself for my failings.  

I rock, I hum, I kiss him on his delicate, full lips. I rock him longer still.

Thousands of nights, tens of thousands of naps, I've rocked these babes to their peace-filled slumber.

Those books were wrong, I decide. Never have I known greater peace and contentment as rocking my children to sleep, night after night, in a room I never imagined would hold such memories.

I read recently that in order to live more fully and in the fullness of love and grace, we should detach ourselves from our attachments. I suppose, them, that I must detach myself from this room, this space, this place that has borne witness to the highest highs and the lowest lows of my existence. I am moving aside, making way for the occupant who will fill it, make it his, occupy it, love it, and miss it when we move to a bigger home...

As for the rocker?  It has found new space.  Nestled cozily into the corner of the family's room, arm's length away from dozens of beloved books, my children pile into my lap to hear stories, to snuggle, to rock.  Late at night, when the house is sleeping, I find myself in that chair: to think, to reflect, to dream.  To rock. And rock. And rock some more.  

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