Have you ever thought about buying something on Amazon but then looked at the negative reviews? By the nature of people inclined to write reviews, usually the posts are overwhelmingly positive or overwhelmingly negative. When I was pregnant and contemplating which crib to buy William, I was trying to make the safest, best, and “most right” decision. If a rational person saw that were 100 reviews and 95 of them were positive, she would probably say, hey, that sounds like a great crib. I, on the other hand, felt compelled to go straight to the 5 negative reviews and then freak out that our child’s arm would get stuck in the crib’s bars, or that the crib’s side panel would come loose in the middle of the night, or that any of the other unseemly things that happened to the negative reviewers would most certainly happen to us.
At some point John, who may be the most patient man alive, got on the computer and just clicked to buy a crib. It arrived. It was monumental. To preface how monumental, I should say that at the time, we had procured our furniture mainly from my late grandmother, my dad’s old office, family friends who didn’t want their chairs anymore, Craig’s list, or our personal favorite—a dog John fostered in college that tore up someone else’s table and thus required him to purchase it.
This crib was our first real piece of furniture. One that was beautiful. One that was new. One that would LAST. It was a symbol of permanence—and of change, for its very presence transformed the space we called “the office” into something quite different: “the nursery.” Feeling the weight of this monumental shift in our lives, I felt compelled to take pictures of us putting it together (and by us, I mean John).
(All that hard work apparently tuckered Lady out, too.)
For over a month, the pristine crib awaited William’s arrival.
Then in one of William’s first weeks home from the hospital, before he was even using the crib, Lady’s ball rolled underneath it—and she scratched up the front trying to get her ball out.
Then when William was a few months old, John was soothing him in the crib, and the zipper on John’s jacket scratched the top of the crib in a deep V.
Then in moving down to North Carolina, we had to disassemble the crib to fit it in the U-Hall. On that seven-hour drive, the sides rubbed against each other, scraping the varnish off the inside panels.
Then a couple of months ago William was in the process of dropping his second nap, and even though he didn’t want to sleep, his little body was very cranky and needed to rest. Per the advice of several moms, I started putting toys and books in his crib, so even if he didn’t sleep, at least he would have some quiet time. For several days it seemed to work. But then slowly I started noticing these marks inside the crib. At first I just thought they were scratches from the move. But upon closer examination, and upon their growth week to week, I realized what was happening. William, who was teething and determined not to rest or play like a normal child, decided to start chewing his crib. Like a beaver.
We are now entering that phase in life where we are no longer graduate students, or in our first jobs, and John is blessing our family by providing for our financial needs. We will soon be buying a house, and over time we will be filling it with a bunch of new furniture—and a new roof, and new shutters, and new siding, and new things that are made to LAST because there will be permanence there. I have not lived under one roof for more than two years since the eighth grade. Now that will change. In trying to make the safest, best, most right choices for our future and our family, my natural inclination would be to research and second-guess and look at the negative reviews and become paralyzed by indecision. But I will try to stop myself–not because those decisions don’t matter at all, but because they don’t matter the most. And thankfully, we’ve already purchased the crib. So when things go wrong, or when I don’t know what’s right, I will try to remember this:
There will be a time when John will no longer be putting babies to sleep in nurseries. There will be a time when Lady’s face will be grey, and she won’t have the energy to go for a walk, let alone chase a ball with enough zest to scratch something up. There will be a time when William’s room will be packed with boxes for college, and when he, with all of his adult teeth, will smile and wave goodbye. And when those times come, I will think back to my little baby beaver and all of the not-perfect decisions that led to not-perfect outcomes, and I will cherish them all the more, knowing that our family did not live in a museum where things were perfectly curated, but we lived in a home where sometimes things were broken and bitten and scratched. A home, where imperfections did not mean things were ruined—it meant we made the most of them. It meant they were loved.