Yesterday's post about God sparked some really interesting thoughts and discussion in the comments. Thank you for treating this topic with the reverence it deserves. Not surprisingly, I received quite a bit of feedback from readers and friends alike, and I'm working on a response. I want to be deliberate about these posts, because this is my heart and this is the internet. So I will probably further the conversation on this Sunday. It just seems like the right day for it.
Over the weekend we took down the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs. We’ve had the thing up since the day we moved in, and I’ve been wanting to be rid of it since the day we moved in. It was ugly. People tripped on it. But both my babies were curious and prone to wander, so we did our best to prevent them from a wooden staircase head injury.
In our former house, the one we lived in when we brought our first baby home from the hospital, we paid big money to have a custom wrought-iron baby gate made that matched the stair railing and didn’t scream Plastic Parenting. But then we moved when she was six months old and we sold the house to a woman with a teenager, who took the custom baby gate down right away.
I was so irritated by that waste of money - Pigtail wasn’t even crawling yet when we moved, so the custom gate really got zero use - that in the new house I refused to use anything other than the plainest white metal gate. Three years of daily use and another child later, this decision makes so little sense. But at least I punished myself adequately over it.
Pirate is two now, Pigtail four. They’ve been doing stairs on their own for awhile, careful to hold the handrail or another hand or both. We’ve kept the gates at the top of the stairs, still a little worried about accidents, but the bottom of the stairs implies a containment that we’ve outgrown.
So we took it down. And instantly the whole front hall looked better. Except for the hole where the gate affixed to the wall, the space feels open and lovely.
I waited to feel a tinge of sadness when I came down the staircase the first time, but instead I was thrilled, the same way I felt when we rolled the Peg Perego high chair. I have loved my children since the day I saw two lines on a stick, but now that we’re emerging from the infant phase, I can say comfortably that I am not a baby person. I enjoyed many moments of my children’s infancy, cuddling with warm little bodies, watching them discover their toes, take their first steps. I liked wearing them close to my body, and I was deeply sad when we moved them out of our bedroom to their own cribs when they were several months old.
But, while I wasn’t miserable in the baby stage, I did not delight in the baby stage. I am a much better parent to my kids with every day they age. I am so in love with the little people they’re turning into. I belly laugh at my son’s antics and the best part of my day is a bonding moment with my daughter.
I have greater patience with my two little ones than I did when they were babies, which is confusing. But when they were very young and upset, I would grow irrationally frustrated when I wasn’t able to soothe them. Now that they’re able to speak, I draw from a parent fount that I didn’t have access to before.
Taking down the baby gate was symbolic of passing an era in our family. The Gorilla and I haven’t 1000% shut down the possibility of expanding our family, but we’re both so content with our dynamic of four, so blessed with our combined little people. Packing up that stuff makes me a little wistful, but not sad. Just grateful.