I’ll admit that a few people gave me questioning looks when I whipped out my phone and took a picture of the diaper aisle at my local grocery store yesterday. I couldn’t help myself. I was marking a milestone. For eight years I have added diapers, wipes and butt paste to my list with eggs, milk and bread. And for the first time in eight years, yesterday I didn’t need to ask, “Should I pick up some diapers today?”
With five grandchildren arriving in succession over a period of five years, my home had gradually begun to resemble a small daycare. I had committed to baby sitting two days a week with the first grandchild so right away I assembled all the necessary tools and equipment for taking care of babies. Car seat. Swing. High chair. Bumbo. Crib. Chest of drawers for clothes. Walker. Stroller (and then when Baby #2 came, a double stroller). Umbrella stroller for the car on days we needed to run errands. Wagon for trips to the park. Baby gate. Safety plugs. Pack n Play. Rocking chair. Baby monitor. And toys. Lots and lots of toys.
For the first time in eight years, yesterday I didn’t need to ask, “Should I pick up some diapers today?”
I eventually ended up with two nurseries upstairs but because I didn’t want to climb the stairs every time I needed to change a diaper, I set up a changing table in my office downstairs. For eight years my office décor has included not only a desk, copier, computer, filing cabinets and tons of books, but also diapers, wipes, baby lotions, extra clothes and a tiny table with four small chairs where toddlers could paint and draw at their “desk” while I worked at mine.
At one point I had three different sizes of diapers on that changing table in my office, a daily reminder of my beautiful blessings in all their different stages. But finally last week our sweet Scarlet, the last of the five, decided she was ready to be done with the diapers. After refusing potty training efforts for months she suddenly and unexpectedly decided it was time. She simply announced one day she wanted to wear “big girl panties” and that was that. She’s been dry ever since, even at night. So no more diapers.
When I first heard the news I cheered and congratulated her as though she had just won the gold medal for the Bathroom Event! As all you moms and dads of little ones know, this is no small feat. In fact, as our president might say, “It’s H-U-G-E!” And while I’m thrilled for Scarlet and relieved for the rest of us, my song of joy is mixed with a note of melancholy. No more diapers means no more babies.
I’ve taken down the cribs, given away one of my two rocking chairs, and donated all the other baby paraphernalia to families in need but the diaper changing table was the last thing to go. Removing that last vestige of babyhood from my office is a significant milestone for me. A season has ended and another will begin. Now we will have preschool, grade school, soccer games, dance recitals, sleepovers and missing teeth.
Ecclesiastes 3 has never been more appropriate to me. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. . .”
I know some of you reading this are packing up kids who are college bound and who will not be sitting at your dinner table as usual in the evenings. That change of seasons can be hard. I know. I’ve done it three times. Our firstborn went to a school over 2,000 miles away from home. I remember setting the dinner table one evening with five place settings as I had been doing for years when it dawned on me I would need to take one of them away. I cried so hard I could hardly finish making dinner and have never missed him more than I did that night. It was a bittersweet season.
Now we will have preschool, grade school, soccer games, dance recitals, sleepovers and missing teeth.
Fifteen years later that same son emerged beaming from the Labor and Delivery room to announce the arrival of our first grandchild, a son who was given my maiden name as his own. And so began a season of babies and sippy cups, of cutting teeth and first steps. Of dump trucks and baby dolls, of storybooks and songs. Of diapers that seemed to be needed in endless supplies. Until yesterday as I was pushing my grocery cart through the store and happened to glance down the isle of diapers and realized – “No More Diapers”. It was a pivotal moment for me.
I have learned that each season has its blessings and its beauty and yes, some have their pain. But I am striving to be able to say with Paul the Apostle, “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.” (Phil.4:13)
In a couple of weeks our son will move his wife and three beautiful children to a nearby town to help with a church plant there. My husband and I will miss having them nearby, the ease and convenience of drop offs and pick ups, the safety net of having a family member just moments away. But we are excited for their new season, for the mission and purpose which necessitates this move, and for their hearts which are more attached to things that are eternal than things of this world.
I have learned that each season has its blessings and its beauty and yes, some have their pain.
We have purposed to celebrate, cherish and enjoy this new season just as much as we have these past eight years. For our son and his sweet family, we are trusting the words of Psalm 31:15 to be truth as they make their move. “My times are in your hand”.
And for the grandparents who no longer need to have diapers on hand but who will be spending money instead on gas for visits, we pray Psalm 90:14, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
“Great is his faithfulness: his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’” Lamentations 3:23,24