Every mom (no matter how clueless), knows that stairs are dangerous. We all know that we should have them gated, top and bottom. That we should never let our children climb them. And that, under no circumstances, should we ever, ever let our little bambinos anywhere near the upper landing.
I know these things. But the problem is, I have pets. Pets who, when they find themselves unable to go up and downstairs at will, show their immense displeasure by peeing and pooping places they shouldn’t.
I also have a little girl who likes to climb. She has since she learned to crawl. So I let her climb the stairs—always following closely behind, of course.
Recently, she even learned how to go down, sliding backwards, feet first. But still, I never let her do it alone.
Today, I was five seconds too slow.
We were upstairs. I’d just put her in her pajamas, then realized I didn’t have a bottle (yes, she still gets a nighttime bottle. Shut up).
So I set her down, and together we headed toward the stairs. But I paused. Stopped briefly to pick her wet bathing suit off the bathroom floor so I could bring it outside to dry.
And that five seconds? Well, that was all it took.
In the time it took to take one step, bend down, swoop up the swimsuit and step back into the hallway, she was at the stairs. I saw her start to take that first step…
Then found myself screaming as she started to tumble.
I dove, but the world, it was moving in slow motion as she started to roll. down. the. stairs.
I pounded after her, watching her surprised face crumple into tears as she thumped. thumped. thumped. Thumped.
My feet, they seemed to be moving through mud. Stumbling over my suddenly too big toes, I finally reached her. After she’d already fallen down eight stairs.
As soon as I picked her up, she started shrieking.
And I? Started sobbing too.
The tears started during the first, furtive look-over as I checked for bleeding.
It accelerated into bawling as I bent her elbows, wrists, ankles and knees, making sure nothing was broken.
It continued even after she stopped crying. Even after she started patting my face, babbling at me merrily and wiping away my tears.
The tears even continued rolling, silently, when we were back upstairs, bottle and bedtime story in hand.
Because I failed.
I let my baby fall.
And that image? Of her rolling and rolling and rolling helplessly? Keeps replaying behind my eyes.
She’s fine. But I? Well I have one more item to add to my inventory of events to berate myself with when I’m competing in my own personal Worst Mother of the Year Pageant.
I think I’ll go buy some gates tomorrow.