Shortly after my third child was born I realized that baby gates were no longer useful in my home. I had a gate at the bottom of my stairs that my daughter could easily squeeze under, but this was not why they were no longer useful. It was my son. My son who figured out that if he pushed the baby gate in just the correct spot he could manage to get it loose. He was tall enough that he could get his leg over it and then topple down along with the gate. It was no good. So, before my youngest was born my father helped come up with a way to replace the baby gate. His solution: a door cut in  half with each half of the door used as a gate.

This new gate system works well most of the time. At two my daughter had figured out how to unlock the gates and at eighteen months my youngest figured out how to climb them. Of course, she has not quite figured out how to get down. I often find her straddling the gates or hanging for dear life.

Shortly after my two, now three year old, figured out how to unlock the gates so did my special needs son. I had to get very creative to find a good solution. If I do all things correctly I can hide on the other side of these gates for a little bit before a child finds me, and as long as they are on the correct side of the gate they cannot unlock it.

Although the gates happen to work okay at preventing children from clinging to me, they do have a purpose. There may be some people who may think that it is a little barbaric (probably the same ones who do not understand the need for child harnesses/leashes) or mean to "lock" my children out of a room or in a room.

Although my gates may not actually be baby gates they are safety gates. We need these things. Why? Because children get into things. The gate set a boundary. For me, it sets the boundary at the kitchen door. When I did not have any gate system my son was frequently getting in the kitchen and opening the dishwasher, fridge, and oven doors (never figured out why). So, gates serve to prevent people from getting in. They also prevent people from getting out.

My gate system is designed to keep out and in. Without a gate system my son would be in danger. He would never fall asleep or stay in his room. He would be able to get into places he should not be. There are times I need him to stay in the room I have put him, and there are times I need him to stay out of a specific place.

My gate system works the majority of the time, but there are moments where mommy guilt comes in. I will sometimes feel bad that I have put my child behind one of these gates. I bombard myself with questions. Am I being mean? Am I being neglectful? Am I paying attention to the needs of my child? Should I hide from my children? However, there is nothing wrong with the gate system. There is nothing wrong with boundaries. There is nothing wrong with safety. I am not a  horrible mother.

Then I think: we have boundaries for our children, but what boundaries do we follow as adults? What gates have we put up in our lives to keep us in safe places and bad people out? I am sure we could find boundaries at some place in our lives. We need them just as much as our children do, and we push to cross them just as much as our children.

Published by Jenny Eddington