Our room was shaped like a square with a baby cribbed next to a wall covered in grey paint. There was a grey rocking chair for breastfeeding and a silver and white changing table stood next to the window awaiting the arrival of baby.
There were no baby rooms. I was never a decorator mom. I never took the time to fashion a room or think of ways to make it a child’s room. None of my other children had one. I expected baby to sleep in our room.
The researcher in me is to blame. When conducting a review on sleep in diverse cultural settings, I read somewhere about the benefits of children sleeping in rooms with their parents. In close proximity to their beating hearts, however you choose. A friend reminded me once, that we all grew up like this in Nigeria, in close proximity to our parents. All my babies have been doing so since then. They transition, when they get older to their rooms.
We began the day like any other day. Baby’s purple hospital bag was ready. I found it at a goodwill store by our home. It was purple and in great condition. Looking at it, one would have thought it was something befitting for a king. I bought it because my son is a king.
My mind was already in the labor room, even though my other children demanded it remained with them, at least for now.
One in particular was my three year old. His keen awareness for the times was incredible. Not only was he clingy, tugging my legs to carry him or hold him at every opportunity, he knew that the arrival of baby would mean he was no longer the baby of our home.
Looking at him, I had the sense that the joys, the fears, even the hopes of no longer being our baby were all lingering on his mind. To ease his concerns, we took him for a walk. Just Dad and I.
We choose to go out with him alone (wearing his baby-blue baby-shark pajamas), just so he knows he would always be our baby. Love will always be his, whether on his dad’s shoulder or on the arms of mom.
Whether by rivers or on top of bridges. Whatever life throws his way, love will be thrown right back. We are all never meant to walk alone. I wanted him to know that he would always find comfort and solace in us.
( I digress-but one of the side effects of the pandemic is an insistence on wearing pajamas. I wonder if other parents are going through this).
There were many flowers along the walk through Forest Park. Even flowers may shrivel and dry up as they cling to the day. Almost all flowers, bloom and whither with each passing day. But tomorrow, they awaken, like yesterday never happened.
It’s this vision of awakening that I want to cling to as well.
In moments where fear becomes intermixed with joy, in moments when things change, and your place is no longer what you expect it to be, even in moments when things seem to be moving at a pace beyond your control, I will always remember our walk through the park with my son. The full force of lesson he taught us this time last year, is only beginning to be clear in my mind. We are never meant to walk alone. Whether in joy or through moments of fear.
So we walked forward together, lost in his world, clinging to the solace and comfort we found as we watched all the flowers blooming in his world.