This morning, I somehow managed to whack myself in the face with a stair gate. That’s quite some achievement, I’m sure you’ll agree. I feel I should explain how.
I needed to use the plug socket on the landing at the top of the stairs. Tired and aching from yesterday’s game of five-a-side, I took the lazy route.
I crouched down and reached through two of the bars of the open gate. I removed the existing plug and, in so doing, gave myself an extreme close-up of its moving part.
As well as being struck by it, I was struck by a realisation. It really didn’t need to be there anymore. Youngest will be three next month and has been using the stairs like a boss for several months.
There’s also the fact that, as we’re not planning on having a fourth child, we’ve been gradually but quite unconsciously getting rid of things that fall into the ‘baby stuff’ category.
The crib and cot have long gone, as have all of the baby clothes. The steriliser and bottles went ages ago and the high chair and pram are both currently on Friday-Ad. She still has a dummy at night as well as a pull-up just in case, but these are on borrowed time too.
So, as I sat with an ice pack on my face, I paused for thought and quickly came to the conclusion that the stair gate is the last bastion of the baby years. It’s strange to think that we’re entering into a new phase of sorts.
While we’ve experienced the pre-school years twice before, there has always been a younger sibling around.
Of course, no stage of parenthood is easy – well, that’s my experience so far anyway – but I think the baby years have to be among the hardest.
I’ve loved the early years of parenting but think that it’s okay for every phase to be your favourite. With that in mind, I’m now wondering what lies ahead.
There will obviously be new challenges. The group dynamic immediately springs to mind. Her brothers still view her as cute and little, but I know it won’t be long until she and they annoy each other.
There will be some things that ought to be easier though. Youngest will become increasingly more independent and, as a result, more predictable.
She should become more amenable to trying new things and, dare I say it, sleep through the night before long.
Maybe I’ll even have energy again! Or maybe I hit myself harder than I thought and I’m actually concussed.
Whatever the explanation, stepping through the stair gate for the last time before removing it is a relative step into the unknown.
Maybe we’ll just leave in situ a little longer…