I have five sons. Humorous. Sticky. Smelly. Smiling. Joyful. I love them. They refine me and give me a breadth and depth of life I don’t have the words for. And when I’m feeling burdened by them or put out in some way because of the weight of their rearing I’m set right. Whether it’s by a random stranger in Costco walking over to simply say, “You are so blessed,” or a sincere kiss and “I love you, Mom” at bedtime, or some other sort of subtle or not-so-subtle wake-up call.
All five of these boys have slept in the same crib at one point or another over the last eight years. They’ve lain snugly swaddled in it, grown from infant to toddler in it. They have chewed on it, thrown toys at it, drawn on it, cried about stuffy noses in it and been watched by a heart-filled mother in it.
This crib has been set up and taken down multiple times in multiple places. It has been loaded and unloaded from multiple trucks and trailers and traveled over 3,097 miles.
Where did it come from?
What’s its story?
Well, like a lot of young new parents still making their way in life, we bought it used. I combed Craig’s List and the KSL Classifieds and made it my mission to get us the perfect fit. And then I found it. Cherry Wood. Matching dresser. Excellent condition. But I wanted a lower price because who doesn’t love the thrill of being able to show off something second-hand and say, “And GUESS how much I got it for?” So I asked the seller if she’d lower it. Haggling is pretty normal on those sites and I was greedily fishing for a steal of a deal.
The seller lowered it a bit and then drew her limit, stating that it was in perfect condition and hadn’t even been used. Not an absolute steal, but still too good to pass up. My mother-in-law watched my baby while I took our car down to pick it up.
New and developing area. Cute cul-de-sac. A rock near the front door catches my eye. “In memory of Aiden.” As I’m ringing the doorbell the truth is slowly sinking in, right into my bones. “Never been used.” That’s what she had said.
A broad man with dark hair answers the door and lets me into the entryway, explaining that he and his brother are just about to bring the crib downstairs, already taken apart. I stand and wait and look at the pictures on the wall of the couple holding an infant boy and I know they hold more meaning to this couple than typical newborn pictures. Did they know what was coming when those pictures were taken? Or did gravity shift much more suddenly?
Nobody says anything about it, but I can feel the grief through the kindness of this man who is loading a baby’s crib that was never slept in into my car. There’s emotion in the air and it’s palpable, but never spoken. After all, I’m just a stranger buying a “used” crib.
Not everything fits in my trunk, so we agree that I’ll come back for the rest. As I’m getting into my car I think I see a woman walk away from a window on the second floor and I suddenly know what it feels like to be driving away with someone else’s dreams in the back of my car. And I had haggled with her.
I have no idea how the couple came to find themselves wading through such grief, but I couldn’t go back with nothing to give. I paid in full and left a note for her in the mailbox. She sold me her dream and I left her a card.
Fast forward 7 1/2 years and I’m expecting my fifth baby boy. “I just have to know, is it a girl?!” I hear this kind of phrase from strangers almost every time I show up for life with my basketball-sized belly and my whole crew. We have a humorous exchange of words and I go about my shopping, my toddler chasing and my “No wrestling in the aisles!” daily grind moments. But deep down, I feel that gentle tug on my heart and know that every boy is precious.
My husband and I can’t decide on a name. I mean, we’ve already used four! How long are your name lists? In the meantime I think on our crib. How it’s still here after four children and multiple moves. How I chose to keep it over another, fancier crib when downsizing after our twins. How I’ll keep it no matter how scratched it gets because I love it. It has served as my reminder over the years to be just a little bit more grateful because it no longer falls under the category of “never been used”.
Aiden. How about Aiden?
Our crib is far from ordinary in my eyes. It tells the story of two mothers, six boys, and two Aidens.
I never saw that family again and chances are I never will, but I wish they knew that their baby has been remembered by me, a total stranger, these last eight years. And that my Aiden has been laid in their Aiden’s crib. It has always been Aiden’s crib to me.