Christian not only turned four years old recently, but he also started back at preschool last week. He did great and got right back into the same schedule. He has the same teacher and aid and even some of the same friends from last year. It actually feels like we never took a summer break.
Turning four is a big deal. No longer a toddler, no longer a baby, even though he's still my baby. Four is like an initiation into kid-hood. He is a kid now and with a kid birthday under our belt and the first week of school finished, it's time for some good ol' reflection.
When we were cleaning up for Christian's party, I had to sort through the clutter and toys that have accumulated in Christian and Lola's room. There was also a collection of equipment - a high chair, a play yard, a car seat, a stander, a corner seat, a tumble form - all things I have to make a new home for. All things that are part of Christian's babyhood.
I would keep them all if I could. But we don't have the room. I don't want to let them go and I feel like I belong on an episode of Hoarders. I know they're just things, but when I look at some of those just thing I see Christian.
Getting rid of Christian's babyhood is very difficult when it comes to car seats and play yards.
That car seat, in particular, is Christian's babyhood. I remember so well my fixation on finding a new car seat for him. He was about to turn one and had hit the weight and height limit on his infant car seat. I researched brands and prices, I talked to his pediatrician, I asked other moms, this was part of motherhood. Obsessing over a car seat. That car seat finally came and it was ready for baby Christian to use. I remember being so excited that it had cup holders for his future apple juice.
He got to ride in that car seat one time before the accident. Actually, I think it was that very day.
That wasn't the end of the car seat's journey. In fact, it was still brand new and perfectly acceptable for a 12 month old baby with a brain injury so Christian rode in that car seat up to Hacienda, he rode in the car seat to hyperbarics and back to the hospital for four weeks. He rode home for the first time after his accident in that car seat. And it became his. He rode in it during road trips, he threw up in it, he ate in it, it was a good car seat. We never got to use the cup holders for apple juice so we tucked those in and forgot about them. Christian used the car seat until he was too big and needed a bigger seat.
Which brings us to last week. It was time to part with the car seat. I didn't want to. If it was up to me, I'd keep it forever. A stupid car seat! I would stare at it like a shrine. It's a symbol of how much harder it is to move on from babyhood where things were easier. With Lola, I miss her babyhood but I know there are more stages to get through, she'll have accomplishments and recitals and first dates and everything that makes saying goodbye to baby things worth it.
But saying goodbye to Christian's baby things is hard. Damn hard. Not that he won't have recitals and accomplishments, but looking back to his babyhood means thinking about a time where ignorance was so very blissful, even post accident.
So I finally got the car seat ready, loaded it into the van, and there they were - the stupid cup holders. I drove his car seat, the one I took so much care in choosing, to the Goodwill. I took the long way and thought about how many other stores I could go to first that might distract me from dropping it off at the Goodwill because then maybe I wouldn't really have to give it away. But there I was, at the Goodwill, leaving it there. And I actually got sad.
It's just a car seat! It's just a thing! It's not Christian! Christian is at home peacefully sleeping. What is your problem!
I put the car seat down and the Goodwill employee came out to ask me if I needed a tax receipt. I said no really quickly and turned around to get in the car. Do you know that I looked back to see if the seat was still sitting there? It wasn't. It was gone. He took it right in without even a last glance. Which is good, because I might have turned into a crazy mess of a Mama, stopped the car, and insisted I take it home where it could stay with us forever for no good reason other than that I just didn't want to part with it.
I drove home after that feeling a little quiet and maybe a little sulky. But I had a birthday party to get ready for. We had an amazing fourth birthday party for him. See, he's a kid now.
Goodbye messy car seat with the cup holders. Thanks for always holding my baby safe. Even with your stupid cup holders.
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