There is a pile of baby clothes on top of the tumbledryer, waiting to be folded and put away for my smallest nephew. The nappies my son no longer needs are already in the loft, shortly to be joined by the now scorned pushchair: and I can't put off the laborious process of converting his outgrown cot into a real bed much longer, even if I have lost all the relevant screws.
Time to face facts: my baby is, if not exactly grownup, definitely not a baby any more. The all-absorbing, intensely physical years of early childhood are over and while doubtless the next phase isn't exactly easy, I suspect it won't be quite so primal. For the first time in three years - more, if you count pregnancy - a bittersweet liberation beckons.
Bittersweet partly because I had always kind of assumed by now there'd be another baby, and the same cycle starting all over again. As time goes by however, it feels safest to assume there won't. Hope is invasive, consuming one's life: a certain sadness is maybe easier to live with.
But then again, there's an undeniable giddiness that comes with leaving the early motherhood years behind. Somewhere in the distance glimmers the prospect of a life where one wouldn't always have to get up at 6am, there wouldn't be weetabix soldered to every available surface, one wouldn't have permanent backache from picking up wailing small people, and leaving the house needn't necessarily involve a ton of wetwipes and spare clothing.
There's even the dizzying possibility of civilised conversation with said child's father: perhaps even some work involving rational thought. Who knew?
It's a miniature version of the sudden burst of energy I've seen older women get when their children leave home: as if the shackles, in the nicest way, were broken. Empty nests are painful but can also bring a relief from guilt, from the huge part of motherhood that consists of just being needed (which is both a joy and at times a struggle).
And it's a useful reminder that careers, like marriages, ebb and flow. There are times when it's easiest just to keep on keeping on, and times when you have the energy to change direction. Now feels like a good time for change.
If there are to be no more prams in the hall, that leaves room for something else. And for me that's going to be a book. It's going to be called Half a Wife, it'll be published in 2012 by Chatto & Windus, and it's going to be about the future of work and the massive changes in family life that are coming together now in one big bang.
I promise I'm not going to plug it endlessly here - although I'll be wanting to pick readers' brains from time to time. But I hope it's going to fulfil one of the conditions I set myself when I left my Proper Job: that I'd take the chance to do something careerwise that I'd never have done otherwise. It's time to get out of my comfort zone.
And to stop getting sentimental over baby clothes, obviously. They are going up in the loft: they really are. Any day now...