The Empty Space :: Unexpected Connections to Sentimental Items

My youngest kid is 7 and with three older siblings, he’s very often doted on and is the “baby.” Despite the babying, he’s very intuitive and always absorbing the world around him. He can be sensitive – in the very best ways and very empathetic. He feels his emotions in a big way.

The other night, on our way back from my daughter’s volleyball practice, I noticed the nursery rocker sitting on our curb. This rocker has been in our bedroom for the past four or five years and has become a really great space for laundry. It, of course, started in the nursery, but once my son started transitioning out of the crib he never slept in and into a big boy bed, the rocker made its way to our room.

I was the only one in the car who saw it. It stirred up some emotions briefly, but with my mind focused on cooking dinner and preparing for the next school day, I just kind of ignored it. After all, my husband and I had been discussing redecorating our room, and the rocker was just a temporary laundry basket… or so I thought.

The evening flew by with homework, dinner, and excited chatter about our new fish tank (courtesy of the school fair!). During the usual chaos of a school night, the rocker slipped from my mind.

As I was cleaning up from dinner, I heard the front door open and close, followed by a thud under our patio. My kids are regularly outside kicking a soccer ball or peppering with a volleyball, I didn’t give the noise a second thought.

Then, my husband came to talk to me. He had quickly run outside to pull the rocker from the curb. Our son had seen the empty space in our room where the rocker used to be. My husband explained that it was outside.

Our son immediately broke down into tears. Despite my husband’s attempts to explain the reasons for moving the chair, reasoning with such a sentimental child was difficult.

We eventually sat down to talk with our son, who had calmed down a bit. We discussed his big feelings. He told me, “It was my best friend. You used to rock me in it.” My heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.

Because we co-slept for a while, he rarely used his crib, which meant we didn’t spend a whole lot of time in his nursery. I rocked him when he was having trouble falling asleep or when he needed comfort but it wasn’t a nightly occurrence. I was genuinely surprised to learn that these sweet moments had such a lasting impression.

When he told me that he remembered rocking together, my heart felt incredibly full. He had these core memories connected with that rocker and was clearly upset with us for casually discarding it. We sat and talked about his feelings, validating them. He often experiences strong emotions about things when we least expect it. We explained how important it is to express his feelings openly and encouraged him to embrace the range of emotions life brings.

The rocker is now under our patio. When Wyatt saw it in the morning, he immediately hugged it. Our weekend plans include rearranging his room so the rocker can return to its rightful place. He’s not ready to let go of this piece of his early years, and once I took the time to slow down and process my feelings, I realized I’m not ready either.

I have a feeling he may want it out of his room sooner than later, but maybe I’m wrong. For now, I’m happy to reclaim the space in my room, while also giving him comfort in his. Who knows, maybe this will be the nudge he needs to start sleeping in his own bed!

Noele LaRosa
Noele LaRosa, a proud New Orleans native, now calls Metairie home with her husband Paul and their dynamic crew: Kaitlyn (19), Aidan (16), Abigail (13), and Wyatt (7). By day, she's a seasoned paralegal at a personal injury law firm, juggling deadlines and family schedules with finesse. Recently venturing into real estate, Noele brings over 15 years of legal expertise to her new role as a real estate agent. Outside the office, she's a dedicated school volunteer and chauffeur extraordinaire to her kids' sports activities. Mental health advocacy holds a special place in her heart, having supported her daughter through an eating disorder journey. When not on the go, Noele finds joy in her kitchen, often cooking and baking for loved ones. You'll often catch her hosting gatherings, blending her passions for cooking, good wine, and cherished company. Greek Fest, Bayou Boogaloo, and lazy beach days are her ultimate happy places. Embracing her hot-mess mama status, she also loves diving into books, writing, and exploring the vibrant city of New Orleans.


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