Monday, June 4, 2012

Creating Sammie's Space

Creating Sammie’s Space

When I was pregnant, I spent months planning my ‘perfect’ nursery.  From the very careful colour combinations, with perfectly matched coordinating accessories, and beautiful dark wood furniture, I knew that it had to be the perfect place for my babe and I.  After all, weren’t nurseries the special places where “parenting” happened?  This would be the sacred place where I would rock my infant in my arms, nurse him from my breast, sing him lullabies and softly- and oh so gently- place him down for eight hours of consecutive sleep per night.  This would be the place of nighttime snuggles, morning cuddles and daytime play.  This would be my child’s ‘space’.

Of course, planning out the nursery wasn’t the easiest thing to do.  First of all, I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl. Also, I couldn’t decide if I wanted something fun and childlike, contemporary and modern, or more classic and traditional like the rest of my home.  It was hard to determine what my new aesthetic would be, now that I was becoming a parent.  I felt like decorating this room was, in part, announcing to the world what type of parent I would be and what kind of child I was going to raise.

But really- no pressure…

After almost seven months, we got the whole thing sorted out.  After long discussions, we were able to settle on a style (classic child), a colour palette (pastel yellows and greens), a theme (adorable frogs), the furniture (the works: crib, change table, dresser, book shelf, glider…) and all the toys and accessories our baby would need to be happy.

It was peaceful. It was quiet. It was serene. It was, unquestionably, my favourite room in the house.


And for a little while, it really seemed that simple. Until, of course, the day my baby was born. Then everything changed in the blink of an eye.

From his dramatic entrance into the world, to his first roll from back to tummy (4 days after birth…seriously…), and from his first laugh to his first fall down the stairs, I quickly learned that- despite his quiet demeanor- there was nothing peaceful and serene about my baby.

Despite being perfect for me, Sammie’s nursery was all wrong for him!  Not only did he categorically refuse to sleep in his crib (and I mean refused!), he far preferred to play in the living room or in our room than his own. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. We spent beautiful hours rocking in our chair, nursing through the nights, etc.  I loved his nursery.  But it definitely didn’t represent him the way I expected it to. I had planned out his nursery with my dreams in mind- having no idea or consideration of the likes, interests and personality of my new child!

Now, of course one doesn’t know the likes and interests of their babies until they are born.  They have no way of predicting if they will be extroverted or introverted, quiet or loud, gentle or boisterous.  You do the best you can to predict, and then learn to adapt very quickly.  This is the first rule of parenting: if you aren’t flexible, you will break.

As a wannabe interior decorator, I couldn’t help but start to think about his toddler room almost from the day he was born. I had decided that giving him a “big boy room” would be his birthday gift on his second birthday, and I knew exactly what I wanted to create! It would be an awesome racecar themed room, with a car bed and a “highway” chalk board going around the entire bottom perimeter. I was even going to paint a NASCAR style mural in the background. It was truly going to be amazing.

The only glitch in the plan was that Sammie had zero interest in cars. Not at three months, not at six months, not even by a year or 18 months…I kept buying him cars, in the hope that he would like them eventually, but he still never really showed much of an interest. While he certainly did play with them, he would generally line them up front to back and push them along in long lines…almost as if they were trains.

Because that’s what he loves.


Thomas the Train is his clear favourite, but Sammie isn’t discriminating.  He’ll turn any toy into a train. Pieces of chalk, cutlery, even bars of soap don’t stand a chance against his imagination.

He can build train tracks that are designed for children four or five years older than he is, and has a remarkable understanding for how the trains work.  The first time he saw real steam trains at the museum, he immediately ran to their front (to try and find the Thomas face) and then to their wheels to check out their parts from all angles.

Since he was about 12 months, his interests have been un-mistakenly clear. And it became more and more clear to me that I needed to respect them, despite my own visions and dreams.

And so, this weekend, I put away my dreams of a car-themed toddler room and I built him the Thomas The Train bedroom of his dreams.


We kept the entire project a secret- even sending him off to sleep with his grandmother, Mamelie, so that he wouldn’t see the paint job in progress.  Finally, after two days of grueling work, we revealed to him the fruits of our labour.

 And he lost his mind. Literally.
He laughed. He squeeled. He ran around. He jumped up and down. He showered us in hugs and kisses, and rolled all over the floor, playing until almost 10pm.



It was absolutely awesome.

Building this room has been one of the most powerful experiences in my parenting journey so far, but not because I like decorating or gift giving.  What made it so wonderful is that this is the first space that Sammie has ever had that is his “own”.  While he did love his nursery, that room was clearly a representation of my hopes and dreams…it did not reflect his personality, his energy or his interests.

As someone who needs their alone time, I truly understand the importance of having a place in the world that is "yours". Somewhere you can feel comfortable, safe, and enjoy the bliss of being alone once in a while. 

This new rooms is “Sammie's Space”; the only place on the planet designed entirely with him in mind.
There are still a few details to finish off (including a train tunnel/chalk board that I will be hand painting), but the essence of the room is there. 

We maximized floor space for him to be able to roll around on the ground and push around his trains. 

We picked colours that we know he is drawn to, accessories that we know he loves, and furniture that represents his needs and his current reality. 

We put aside our own preferences and made room for his, not only in our home but in our hearts.

We learned that raising Sammie has less to do with showing him "what to do" and "how to fit" into our world, and more to do with helping him carve out his own, unique place in the world around him.

We do not define him; rather, we are guides on his journey of self-discovery.

And that is the very best lesson of all. 


  1. Great post Z !!! Super awesome job on the room - I can only imagine how ecstatic he was ;)

  2. Thanks Maria! It was so fun! I'm sure you'll have a blast when you guys redo Noah's for the first time! :D

  3. Aw, I love reading about his reaction to seeing the room! And, seriously, your last few sentences totally made me all blubbery. So, thanks for that. ;-)

    1. Thank you for reading, beautiful Mama! Your blog inspired my blog :) Hopefully I can actually keep up with writing in it!