Locks, latches, barricades, guards. I remember glancing longingly at the Safety First kit given to us at one of the baby showers. I so looked forward to the days when my tiny, 100% dependent baby would venture a bit out on her own - her sense of curiosity outgrowing her sense of self-preservation - certain that between my watchful eye and the trusty plastic doodads I'd installed, that my sweet growing girl would be safe while the world taught her about judgement and cautiousness.
Now I have no baby. I have had no shower wherein other mothers who have lived through this gleamed and twinkled as they gifted me the equipment I'd need to keep my precocious child from harm's way. The latches I put up now are not installed with certainty that the one I guard from peril will soon absorb my lessons and be able to keep herself unharmed.
No. My husband buys the bolts and latches and new doorknobs from the hardware store. They don't come home in pretty paper and bows or with cards of congratulations and best wishes - instead they come in beige shopping bags, wearily tossed on the counter. We don't open and assemble them together, excitedly prolonging a freshly reached or anticipated milestone. Rather, I move myself to another part of the house to dull the heartache while my husband drills and hooks and hammers alone.
When he is done, I pass by to assess the effectiveness. Yes, that'll work. She won't be able to reach that. We don't celebrate, we don't grin or congratulate ourselves. We both know the frustration she'll feel when something she worked so hard to be able to open has now been changed up on her, that she has lost a freedom she just obtained. We dread latching and unlatching many times a day, little needling reminders that the safety propaganda didn't take hold, that little liberties are being removed one by one, instead.
She broke through our very old cedar fence in the back of our yard. I found her on the other side of the block. When we replace the fence, it will not be an aesthetic or resale value investment, we won't sort through quaint cuts and consider different styles. We will pick the basic one for the utilitarian function of keeping our daughter whole.
Today a hook and eye went up on the basement door. It's less than a foot away from the one we put up a few months ago on the back screen door. Seeing the two of them so close together kicks up a cloud of grim conjecture: heavy, glinting bolts on every last hinged thing in our home.
Back when we sprinkled the house with baby proofing gear like so many holiday baubles, we knew it was temporary.
We know no such thing now.