As I look at him peeking through the railings on the stairs, I really feel the weight of him growing up. It seems like only yesterday we were putting up the safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs, protecting our now mobile infant from their dangers.
Then, just after his 3rd birthday we decided on an impulse to take the gates down. We didn’t even really debate or discuss the topic. He just said to me, “I think I’m going to take these gates down today.” And I said, “yeah, OK, I don’t see why not.” After all, the little man was navigating the stairs with confidence. And we were no longer obsessively making sure we closed the gates. Well, a few minutes and several turns of a screwdriver later, they were gone. The empty screw holes are now patched and painted, the gates erased from our daily lives.
But when we took the gates down, it was a bittersweet moment for me. Obviously sweet because my son is growing and learning. But at the same time bitter as I felt the heartache of a mother watching her baby grow up, passing a milestone. He’s no longer a baby, or an infant, or a toddler. He’s a full on boy already up to my belly button, the place where we were once connected. One day he’ll tower over me and I’ll be the one looking up into his eyes and I can only hope that I’m doing my best to guide him on this path to manhood.
Teaching him to climb the stairs was just the beginning. Now, I don’t even think twice about him on the stairs, even when he pretends to be a worm and slide down them on his belly feet first. I trust him. I trust that he’s learning his limitations. How much has changed in just three short years. My child, once completely dependent on me, now regularly stating emphatically, “No, I will do it by myself, mummy.”
I believe Gretchen Rubin when she says in The Happiness Project,
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
Sometimes it’s hard to get through the day and you’re counting down the hours until their bedtime, at least I am. But then I have moments like this when I can barely remember the baby gates, and I can’t believe how fast the time has passed.