I Channeled My Feelings into a Baby Gate

We were never the kids who had our rooms decorated according to our current obsessions. While I know of kids who had rooms decorated according to their favorite cartoon characters or movies, we were given limited choices. We would choose to channel a tasteful color.

Pull up a chair. I’m going to tell you about my pink-to-purple transition, and then some baby stuff.

When I was five, I was super into pink. Pink bedroom, pink bedspread. I was in ballet because – hey-o! – pink tights and tutu and shoes! An entire graceful magical outfit of pink!

“Think pink!”

But by the end of the year, ballet was dead to me. Why? Because of a tutu.

You see, every week, a girl was chosen to wear the class tutu. Every week, the class began and we waited to see who would be chosen. And every week, it wasn’t me. Every single week. In fact, I was not chosen to wear the class tutu until the very last class.

(Now, I’m a grown-up. I recognize that it was likely done in alphabetical order, and that’s why I wasn’t chosen until the final class.)

My parents’ solution? Buy me my own tutu. So rather than nursing the wounds that come with being cast aside and denied access to a communal tutu, I did my first position, second position, plie sequences in my very own pink tutu.

And on the final class? You know I wore both!

But this marked a turning point, though not one I was conscious of at the time. Pink was dead to me. Ballet was dead to me. I needed a change.

Down went the painters tape, the furniture moved to the center of the room, and I was happily surrounded by lavender walls and had a floral lavender comforter (ooh, a comforter! Seven year-old me was quite impressed!).

I’ve been thinking about that transition lately because we are in our own transition around here. The baby is walking – walking! – and not even just walking, but trying to run, like a maniac. He blows raspberries and says “mama” and points to things he wants. He gets pretty offended if you try to carry him up the stairs instead of letting him climb. He’s a big boy, and he’s independent, and we all need to get on board.

And with that change, we have been boxing up baby-baby toys – rattles and crinkly-plushy things, his bouncy seat, his swing – and carrying them down to the basement, where I have a baby corner next to the plastic tubs of his outgrown clothes and my discarded maternity duds. I stood there recently, taking stock of this collection of gear and toys and clothes, and I just felt a whole, whole lot of feels about the fact that, this time last year, he was still in utero, is now walking and no longer needs his frog chair, the chair he was sitting in when he laughed for the first time. Or his Bumbo seat, where he sat to take his first hesitant bites of pureed sweet potato.

It’s amazing that he’s growing. He’s becoming more and more of a person each day – practically with each nap – but man, it’ll get you right in the center of your chest if you’re not careful.

In the interest of channeling those feelings into something productive, I decided we needed a gate at the top of the deck stairs. How could we sit outside in the mid-summer armpit that is southern Maryland, suffering through the heat, if he could topple down the stairs at any moment?

Y’all, I didn’t buy it – I made it. Found a fantastic tutorial on Pinterest. I went to Lowe’s, a place that used to give me anxiety, and I bought lumber and had it cut down, and I bought screws that were too long (whatever), and I went home, and I made a gate, and felt empowered, and it keeps the baby safe. Boom.

And as the landscape of our living room changes – baby toys to toddler toys, quilt on the floor for tummy time to wrestling-snuggles with mama on the carpet – I think about my final ballet class when I danced with two tutus on. We took my hurt feelings and made something positive out of it. And yes, it was an embarrassment of riches. Looking at my baby flip through the pages of a board book, it still is, I guess.


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