Milestones (Graduating to a Toddler Bed)

This weekend, we made the inevitable switch from crib to toddler bed. I knew the day would arrive sooner rather than later. And it arrived this weekend, along with the bittersweet reality that my baby is growing up.

We had no intentions of changing her sleeping arrangements any time soon, let alone this weekend. Sophie showed no signs of trying to escape or wanting out. In fact, I was planning to keep the kid in her crib until she no longer could fit. But alas, Saturday morning I go into her room to get her out of bed. In her happy tone, she declares, “Look, I can climb out,” as she straggles her leg over the side of the crib, trying to push herself out. She repeats this new attempt at freedom. At that point I realized the crib is history.

The crib is one that converts to a toddler bed, and then to a regular kid-sized bed –economical and no storage issues. We decided to make the switch before nap time on Saturday. If there was going to be shenanigans and no sleeping in the new bed, better to have it at nap time than evening. We thought it would be helpful for Sophie to see her crib become a “big girl bed” before her very eyes in the hopes this would alleviate any stress about a “new” bed. Bryan told Sophie she needed to help Daddy with an important job. And help she did. She handed Bryan screws and lifted the side rail pieces for him. She saw her mattress, blankets and stuffed friends move to the other side of the room. And then it was time to put the mattress and such back on the bed. Sophie was thrilled!

She quickly got on the bed, and then off. Then on, and off again. All while shouting, “My big girl bed! Daddy made it.” Irony of ironies, during this project, she was singing “Sunrise, Sunset” (“Is this the little girl I carried?”…). It’s almost as if she knew this was a symbolic moment for us. (How does a 2-year-old know Fiddler on the Roof, you ask? The kid likes musicals. … And we sing it each night as it’s a book she received as well.)

So after putting the comforter, stuffed animals and blankets back on the bed, it was time for nap. And this is the moment that hit me that I know longer had a baby girl to take care of in the same way. For two years and two months, I’ve carried her in my arms and gently placed in her crib. Now, there was no holding or carrying to bed. She marched to that bed, climbed in, laid down, and drifted off to sleep. And my tears started flowing. That was such a part of the routine and in a single moment, it changed.

The evening ritual remained the same and she had no trouble with her new sleeping arrangements. In fact, I think she slept more sound than she has in quite some time. I didn’t have the same luck, instinctively waking every few hours to check on her. Bryan did the same. At 4 a.m., we closed her door in the fear that she would get out of bed and start roaming the house.

I’m excited that she’s hit a milestone and I’m sure many more are soon to come. But I’m also sad my little girl is growing up and now has a big bed to prove it. She no longer needs me in the same way. What else will she soon decide she doesn’t want me for? It’s all a part of growing up, and I am grateful for her independent streak. But a few tears still sneak out when I think about it.

I awakened this morning to hear the usual words coming from Sophie’s room:  “MOMMY! MOMMY!” I quickly made my way to her room, excited to see what she was doing. Did she get out of bed? Is she reading her books? Is the place in one piece?

There was Sophie. Holding her blankie, sitting against the back of the “big girl bed.” The same place she would be in the crib. “Hi Mommy!” she says with a smile. “I get out now.” She bounced out of her bed, ready to start the day.

I’m sure soon enough, the day will come when Sophie realizes she can roam free in her room and get up as she pleases. But until then, I will enjoy the fact that she still needs me to come in and get her after all.

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