Have you seen that meme that compares a profession or activity in four quadrants: what society thinks I do, what my mom thinks I do, what I think I do, what I actually do. They’re pretty funny. I decided today that if I made one for foster parenting, the boxes would be:
what society thinks I do: abusing children and living the fat life off those huge government checks
what my mom thinks I do: snuggling babies
what I think I do: folding endless laundry
what I actually do: setting up and tearing down Crib
Not to be all #shamelessbrag, but I’m at the point where I don’t need instructions to set up and tear down Crib. And it isn’t like a simple process. You need, like, a drill and all kinds of hex key tools. But this sucker has been up and down enough times that it’s like “we gotta get Crib out again” and an hour later, there’s Crib. Boom.
We bought Crib when we were pregnant for the first time, almost ten years ago now. So exciting! We set it up carefully, my husband following the instructions for the first time in his life because I was being fanatic about safety. Then we did the thing where you, like, try really hard to shake it apart, and when nothing clangs to the floor, you nod at each other like, yeah, nothing’s going to tear this sucker apart.
Our 9yo slept in that thing in our old house for a while, then I cried the day I went in to get him from nap and he had chewed the CRAP out of the sides. Like just a single nap, he got bored and nibbled down basically every piece of wood he could reach with those irritable two little teeth on the bottom. I was heartbroken. Poor Crib!
Truth is, I was pregnant again and was picturing a new baby in this now less-than-pristine wooden Crib, and it made me angry. Turns out, she would never sleep in Crib, just safely in the arms of Jesus. (you can read more about that journey here)
No one can stand empty Crib, especially one that was to be filled, so we converted it to a toddler bed. A few years later, we were about to move and I was pregnant again, high-risk, and all of a sudden, I was recovering from a month-early C-section instead of helping our whole family move our house. I never got to say goodbye to the old house, but Crib turned out in the new place with a new baby in it. I don’t honestly know who set it up that time. But there was Crib. Ready to cradle another baby.
Just three short months after that, we got our first foster placement of a newborn and an eleven-month old, and suddenly Crib had a bunch of co-workers! People said we looked like a daycare with now three cribs and a barely four-year-old just adjusting to life in a big boy bed.
Looking back, Crib likely felt like he had it easy, as his occupant was a sweet sleeper, and the other two babies (who were in the midst of one of their young lives’ great traumas) were experiencing physical symptoms and emotions they didn’t understand. Endless crying and thrashing with all the strength their tiny bodies could muster probably made Bonus Cribs shudder. Truthfully, Bonus Cribs saw a lot of sadness, but—I hope and pray—maybe the beginning seed of some healing, too.
After we returned to a family of just four, Crib become a toddler bed again briefly, then did a brief stint in the attic. Crib was probably lonely, but not for long.
Another call and another baby, this one a micropreemie full of medical needs and uncertainty. But, oh—did that boy grow! Did he amaze us? Every. Single. Day.
As micropreemie turned into best-little-brother and precocious toddler, Crib had to be moved into big brother’s room—inseparable little buddies—because it was better to have Crib in the same room than risk anyone climbing out of (or INTO!) Crib to share the night. Crib must have felt so much love in those cuddles.
I’m going to yadda-yadda-yadda the part where this particular Crib occupant left, because it’s still a little fresh even a year later, and I don’t have a lot of words for that experience—but Crib has stood solidly empty since last July as a salve for formerly-big-brother who was now missing his smaller counterpart. He solidly refused to have Crib taken away, preferring to sleep with an empty bed than all alone.
Crib was empty and quiet for nine months. We only recently decided it was time to put Crib back in the attic, adding a set of bunk beds in his place.
Now the phone rings.
And so it begins again.
Hey, Crib? It’s me. I have the hex keys and the drill. I’ll see you in an hour.
Welcome back. You’ll be wearing pink for this next part of the journey.