Pin It I guess I didn't expect it to be this emotional, although I should have seen it coming a mile away. I watched Spencer run the brush along the baseboards of his old Nursery, a ribbon of Fresh Pink Lemonade streaking itself across the Nautical Blue that had been there since I was about this pregnant two and a half years ago. I watched it happen, but I guess I was too busy thinking about everything that needed to get done to let it really seep in. I pealed the blue plaid sheets off of his old crib mattress, but again I guess I was too wrapped up in the excitement of replacing them to really swallow the idea that I'd be boxing these very special ones away. I took a spackle scraper to the wall above his old changing table and pried the wooden letters of his name from the surface they'd clung to since before we'd ever seen his face. I piled the evidence of his infancy in the living room and I started washing dishes while Spencer erased what was left of our son's room in three coats of paint. To us, we were making good use of naptime. But at 3:00 Matthew woke up with a different point of view.
Matthew says that he loves his baby sister, although we know his understanding of that love is vague. He knows that she lives inside of me and he gets that she will someday come out looking something like the other small babies he's met in his travels. He knows that she will be soft and that she will cry and that she will drink milk from my breasts for most of the day once she arrives. We've prepared him for every change that we can think of in the best ways that we know (or think we know) how. He's watched Mary's room be torn apart and reassembled in the bigger bedroom across the hall and he was there to try out his big boy furniture in the store the day that all $900.00 of it was purchased. But when all two and a half years of that boy, in his Buzz Lightyear cotton underpants strolled on into his old room after naptime to find his old Babies 'R Us furniture in dissaray and the blue of his walls painted over, his reaction was less than enthusiastic.
"Nooooo..." he squeaked at first. Spencer picked him up and I could hear the tone of his voice begging approval from our son over the running water. "Noooo, no, no, no..." is all he'd give back. Each repetition of the word smaller and more pathetic than the last until they just trailed off into sad, sleepy tears. I listened in on Spencer trying to reason optimism into our son for as long as I could before I shut the water off and came into the room, offering my son a pouty lip to match his own. He traded arms from dad to me. "It's my room, Mommy. It's my blue room," he sniffled into my shoulder. "Put it back."
The first night that we put Matthew to bed in his new big boy room, it took us an hour to leave. It was an ordeal for the whole family. Once the character pictures were hung in their yellow frames and the baskets of toys were nestled into their corners; once his clothes were hung from their hangers and his teddy bears and baseballs and little tin bucket of binkies adorned the shelves of his headboard, his room really looked like it was not just complete - but that it was his. Everything from the motorcycle nightlight overtop of the decorated outlet covers to the little wooden dump-truck shapes adhered to the wall as if they were driving a load over the wooden letters of his name, shouted in my face that my son was graduating into a world of his own personality. His nursery was my creation. Every piece of the theme was picked out by me before I ever knew anything about him or what he'd someday grow to take interest in, let alone love with the intensity that he loves such things as Buzz Lightyear and battery operated Power Tools and anything at all with wheels and a motor that roars. This room WAS him.
Matthew bounced on top of his twin mattress and rolled around in his quilt, wrestling the dog and teasing him, "No, Riley, this is MY big boy bed!" I took pictures of Matthew looking happier than I'd ever seen him in the whole two and a half years of his life while Spencer tickled him and tossed him around and Mary laughed and played along at the foot of the bed. We read every story on the shelf and we asked him a hundred and twenty two times if he liked being a big boy now, just because we loved hearing him answer us one hundred and twenty-two times that being a big boy was "SO AWESOME, Mommy!!" He was so high on excitement 10:00 into that night that he giggled all the way through his bedtime prayers and we had to keep refocusing his attention on the next line to be said. Once we finally made it to the other side of the door, Spencer caught me giving him a sad smile and needing a hug. He laughed at me and told me he knew, and it took all I had in me not to cry into his chest.
Every night since has been the same routine, just a little less heart-wrenching. We all gather in there, like a litter of puppies fighting for the comfiest spot on the bed - everyone of us wanting a little more Matthew time than the day has allowed. We take turns reading the stories and we say prayers together like a team huddle, all smiles as we end the day with a proud "Amen!" We have to call the dog and the cat and Mary out of there one at a time. Matthew lets them go without any tears, knowing he'll see them all in the morning. Then he rolls over and let's me turn out the light without getting scared. I know that he'll sleep all through the night without crawling out of bed to cause mischief and I know that his underwear will stay dry until our morning trip to the potty, when he'll pee like a big boy without any complaint. These are all of the things I have always wanted for my son to learn to do. I am so proud of how beautifully he's grown up.
But it still breaks my heart just a little every time I put that door between us. I wonder if I'll ever outgrow that.