3YO has grown out of her toddler bed, which we bought seven years ago when 10YO was three. Both are now sleeping in adult sized single beds, in their own rooms. So the little mini-bed has gone the same way as the cot, and so much other child-related paraphernalia. Some of it barely lasts their baby-hood, and you throw it away with a sigh of relief as soon as they show signs of growing out of it. Other things – not many – have enough life left in them to pass on to a friend or sell on Gumtree. And some things are so imbued with special memories that it’s almost unbearable to say goodbye to them, so the box of memorabilia in the attic gains a new addition. But it all goes and, without you even realising it, one era of childhood has merged seamlessly into the next.
The toddler bed will probably go on Gumtree, without too much sentiment. But taking it to pieces caused me to think back to the time when we moved our then just-turned-two-year-old out of her cot and into the toddler bed. It was nearly two years ago, just after her grandmother had died. In amongst everything else we had to deal with, we suddenly had to contend with a toddler who had learned to climb out of her cot and then fall and bump her head on the floor, so we quickly moved her into a bed for her own safety.
The last time her grandmother saw her, she was still in a baby-grow, sleeping in her cot. Now, she’s moved on again – through one whole stage of childhood and onto the next. The fluffy-haired toddler stringing together a couple of words has become a talkative nursery-school pupil, with long hair in plaits and a penchant for girlie party dresses. And this too will pass, and the cute little 3YO will become someone else altogether – and her grandmother will never see this, or any other stage of her life.
As the years pass, we move further and further away from those we’ve said goodbye to. After two years it’s certainly true that the sense of loss becomes less acute. But each milestone along the road – the mundane things like replacing outgrown furniture and clothes, as well as the big things like learning to talk, and read, ride a bike or drive a car years from now – is a reminder of how far we’ve travelled down the road without those we’ve lost. Sometimes these reminders make you want to curl up into a ball. But sometimes – on better days – when the children are just so darn funny or cute, or when something amazing happens, I can imagine how it would have made my Mum laugh. And at times like that, I know she’s still right there with me.