Monday, June 14, 2010

The Stairs: My New Worst Enemy.

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.

But today?

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.


  1. Aww..don't be so hard on yourself! We've all done it. Just looked away for a second and BLAMMO, they're falling down the stairs, their under water (and talk about slo-mo, ever try to run through a foot of water, the three steps that you need to reach your child? I still - FIVE years later, can see the look of fear/surprise on my baby's face when he was under for those 3 seconds), etc.

    She's fine. She's fine. You might not be for awhile, but that just shows what a great mom you are.

    For the record? No gates w/ #3. We have some dogs issues, too. And our top step only goes down two steps on a landing before the "bit stairs." Ack.

  2. this post made me tear up--about a year and a half ago, i didn't realize that G (also a year and a half at the time) had come through the baby gate behind me as i ran upstairs to get something. i turned at the top of the stairs to see her on step six, lose her balance, and bump and roll until she hit the landing. and you're right--the whole thing is in slow motion. i was newly pregnant and charging down the steps after her. she cried for a few minutes and i cried for the rest of the day.

    it's a horrible, horrible feeling. i'm so sorry.

  3. You poor thing!!! I know the exact feeling, after watching my 3 year old somersault head-first down our front CEMENT steps. She had a bloody nose; I had a heart attack. It took me months to recover; pretty sure I had post-traumatic stress syndrome. So I'm feeling for you! You are not even IN the Worst Mother of the Year Pageant!

  4. No "Worst Mother of the Year" award for you yet, sorry. As you've gathered from the other moms who have posted, you're not alone. Not by a long shot. Both of mine have fallen down our whole flight of stairs (not simultaneously). I think, for the most part, the kids escape unscathed. But it is, possibly, one of the scariest sights you'll ever see, and that feeling of guilt is immense. Try not to beat yourself up about it, and think of it more like a hurdle you've crossed; something a mom has to endure sometime. Kind of like driving into a deer if you live in Michigan. Not a matter of IF, but WHEN.

  5. Oh my goodness! This happens to every mom at least once...please don't be so hard on yourself. Last year we watched as our 2 year old fell down about 15-20 steep hardwood stairs at a friends house. It was horrifying. Miraculously he did not break his neck, head, and every bone in his body. No matter how hard you try you cannot be there every minute. Thank goodness she is fine. You are NOT a bad mother!

  6. I'm so glad that you wrote about this. I had a very scary episode last weekend that has left me scared. The kiddo is fine, but I will never get the images and thoughts of bad momma out of my head. We've all done stupid things, things we swore we would never do. Thank goodness everything turned out OK for your little girl (and for my little boy).

  7. We live in a Rancher. I've never been so happy to live on one level. I know the guilt though because my daughter rolled and fell off of her change table. It was a horrifying and scary thing. I'm glad your daughter is okay.

  8. I have let my babies roll off beds, changing tables, sofas. It takes about 3 years to forgive yourself.

  9. That is such an awful feeling! I watched helplessly as my daughter rolled head over heels (literally) down our entire wooden staircase. I was sick to my stomach that I couldn't catch her. You are not a bad mother. We've all been there... if not on a staircase, then somewhere else. It is impossible to watch over our children every second, even though we mothers try our best.

  10. The WORST feeling.
    I am the stair faller in my family-I fall up and down them. I should baby gate myself.

  11. Oh no! I just feel awful for you - I know that "slow-motion" feeling well. Try not to be so hard on yourself - things like this happen to every mother, even awesome ones (like you). :-)

  12. Oh my god, you poor thing! If I could, I'd give you a big hug right now. Maybe you should just go get yourself a bottle of wine--to numb the pain a little, lol.

  13. That fact that you cried more than her disqualifies you for the Worst Mother Award. Don't be so hard on yourself, I don't have gates either coz we have a weirdly designed staircase, and I have had several heart-in-mouth moments. You sound like a great mom, give yourself some credit.


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