This is not my room

I cleaned your room today.

It was a wreck.

Toys laid on the floor from where you had stopped playing with them to move on to something else. Books were strewn across your bed from the night before. Clothes were everywhere. You must have tried three different outfits before you finally found one that suited your taste today. The others were laying across chairs and stuffed animals.

What a mess you'd made. I had taken such pride in creating this room- the room my baby would have. And as I was going through it all, I looked around and realized this was no longer my room.

 A crib used to be here. Right here in this corner. It was a crib we picked out after lots of research of what would be the best. It was a cherry wood color that would grow with you: moving from a crib to a toddler bed, to a full-sized bed. I bought a mirror and painted it to match your d├ęcor. It hung above the crib. When you would cry at night, I would come in and pick you up from that crib, soothing you with hushed whispers. In the glow of your nightlight, I would look at us in the mirror, slowly swaying back and forth until you fell back to sleep. Then with a last look, I would lay you back down on your yellow striped sheet with your breathable bumper and a thin blanket to cover you.

Now, this corner is the space where we play games. It's home to your art work and some of mine that I made for you ("Draw an elephant, Mommy!"). Your crib was taken down years ago. After the mattress had been lowered all the way to the floor, you still managed to climb the rails and flip head-over-heels out of it to come find me in the living room. I remember looking at you with shock and amazement as you came toddling down the hall after escaping from your crib. You looked so proud of yourself and so happy to see me. The crib came down that day and was tucked safely away under my bed where it still is today, having not been used since.

A rocking recliner used to sit here. A very old, but very well-taken-care-of rocking recliner. It used to rock your dad when he was a baby. We used it to rock you. You ate nearly every meal in that chair for the first year of your life. Your feeding sessions were so fun. I fed you a bottle and rocked while your dad read your bed time story. That chair was also where you sat on the 6th of each month so we could take your picture with the same three stuffed bears and see how much you'd grown. Sometimes that chair was a bed when you couldn't sleep without being held. Those nights seemed so long and at times we never thought you'd sleep on your own.

But one night you did. And you stopped eating bottles. And the chair sat unused and taking up space.  Now this corner is home to your collection of stuffed animals: Paw Patrols pups, a fluffy pink cat, the world's largest stuffed Olaf. And elephants. SO many elephants. And a little red rocking chair that belonged to my dad. You sit there and read your books to yourself now, looking at the pictures and making up words to go along with them. You stand in the chair and look out the window at the sunset, checking to see if the sky is purple because that's your favorite color. The chair is in the playroom now, and to be honest, I can't remember the last time it was used.

Your closet still holds your clothes, but oh, how big they've gotten. I stocked up on newborn clothes and clothes sized by the month. We got so many little outfits at baby showers, and my favorite thing to do was take them home, wash them in Dreft baby detergent, and hang them carefully in the closet, grouped by size. I picked every outfit for you after you were born. I loved dressing you up.

The top of your closet was where we stored boxes of diapers and wipes. The bottom of your closet held shelves with a few books, some pictures, a couple of toys. The tops of the shelves had decorations and notes and cards displayed on top; the clothes were small enough that there was plenty of space below them. Your closet was so pretty, we took the doors off to show it off and make the room feel a little bigger.

Now, your clothes hang much lower than they used to because they are much bigger than they used to be. One of the bookshelves had to relocate to the playroom so we could have more space. The other bookshelf is filled to bursting with stories of princesses and potions, animals and adventures. The top of the closet is filled with boxes of clothes you've outgrown: some of the same pieces that I had carefully washed and hung up so many years ago... Until one day, I washed them one more time and instead of hanging them back up, I folded them, tucked them in a box, and put them away. Just like I know, one day, sooner than I'd like, I'll do with some of the clothes you wear now. Because they'll have gotten too small, too. We are running out of room in there, and it's not as carefully organized as it once was. We actually probably ought to put the doors back up. And you are much less inclined to let me dress you however I want. You have a personality and you love to dress to reflect that. Miss Independent.

This wall. This wall was so time-consuming, but I had to have it. Chevron stripes were THE thing in 2012-2013. I wanted it to be perfect, so I used contractor's chalk and meticulously measured every space and angle. This was the wall where your changing table was. I bought it at a thrift store and painted it to match your crib. Above it hung a wooden cross I'd found at a craft show, and later one of your one-year pictures took its place. Now, on that same hook, hangs a very crooked Beauty and the Beast poster. We watch Beauty and the Beast nearly every day right now. I wonder what movie you'll obsess over next and what will eventually take a turn hanging on that hook.

And though you had me wondering if you'd be going to kindergarten wearing diapers, you eventually got the hang of using a potty and wearing "big girl panties." I haven't changed your diaper for over a year. So we got rid of the dresser, exchanged it for a chest of drawers, and put it against another wall so you'd have more room to play. And where your dresser once stood now stands a twin bed, covered in a handmade quilt and topped with a dozen of your favorite elephants. This is where I read to you every night. Where you make room for me so I can lay down with you. You bounce on top of it and get that quilt all messed up. And you are actually getting a new quilt soon. With elephants on it. Purple, of course, since that's your favorite color. And my yellow chevron stripe? Over the summer, it will be painted purple, too, because that's what you chose.

And as you continue to grow, your room will continue to change. And while I used to rock you to sleep in here, and while I now watch you play on this floor, I know in a few years, we will be picking out your clothes for your first date. Getting you dressed for your first school dance. The decorations I picked out which have now been replaced with elephants and Beauty and the Beast will change again as you find your new favorite things. You will continue to grow, and your bedroom will be a reflection of that.

So as I cleaned this room today, I realized it wasn't my room anymore. It was your big girl room. As much time as I had put into planning it out and decorating it to my exact specifications, it was never supposed to stay that way- mine; a reflection of my tastes. The way it was was beautiful, but the way it is now? That's all you. And the way it will be will be all you, too. The memories made in this room I will treasure forever. But I know the memories that we will make will be just as wonderful.

I love you with my whole, whole heart.
Love, Mommy.


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