We were getting ready to leave for a date night. My mother in law had offered to watch Adeline for the night at her place so we could go grab dinner before I left town for the week. It was getting late, and we were rushing. Adam went to take Truckee out to the backyard one last time, and I needed to grab an applesauce pouch out of the fridge for Adeline. I turned around for maybe 30 seconds.
As I was breaking open the applesauce box, I heard Adeline’s little feet pitter patter across the entryway floor as she playfully said, “mama mama”. I bantered back to her, “Adeline, are you playing in the bathroom again? Don’t close that door honey you’ll lock yourself in there.”
And then it was quiet. I assumed she’d run back into the living room and maybe into our room where she liked to hide. I finished grabbing her applesauce, and turned around expecting to find her giggling in either the entryway bathroom or maybe around the corner in our room.
She wasn’t in the bathroom. Hmm, that’s weird. Maybe she went into the laundry room. Nope, not in there either. (All our interior doors are lever handles, which she’s mastered opening and closing.) I glanced at the stairwell, but noticed the gate was latched so I knew there’s no way she could have snuck up the stairs. I then quickly walked back to our room hollering for her. “Adeline! Where are you? We need to go baby girl!” She also wasn’t in our room. Or in our closet, her favorite hiding place as of late. I could quickly feel my blood pressure rising. Did I lose my child in my own house??? I picked up the pace and ran to the back door and saw Adam throwing the ball for Truckee. I yelled, “where is Adeline???” And he said, “I don’t know I thought you had her?!”
We both ran back inside in a panic. I told him I couldn’t find her anywhere. Then it occurred to us. He said, “could she have gone out through the garage?” He practically sprinted through the laundry room and checked the garage, nothing. Then he yelled, “could she have gone out the front door?!” That thought had never crossed my mind.
I threw open the front door, and there she was. Standing on our front porch walkway, and quicker than I’ve ever moved in my entire life I lunged towards her and picked her up and thanked God she was ok. She could tell I was panicked so she started crying. I couldn’t squeeze her hard enough. I’ve never felt such fear, panic, and guilt in my entire life. Somehow Adeline had opened the front door, and closed it, without me knowing OR hearing. I turned my back for no more than 30 seconds, and trusted that she would be ok, and somehow she’d gotten out. Under my watch.
Our fridge is literally right around the corner from the front door. Like you can stand at the fridge, and clearly see the front door right through the dining room. I’ve never seen Adeline open a knob door successfully. The only two knob doors in the house are of course, the front door and the back door. To say it was news to me that she could open it would be a huge understatement.
I couldn’t help but break down in tears thinking about what if something had happened. What if she had wandered into the street. People fly down our street because it’s the main entrance into the neighborhood. What if she’d wandered down to the playground. What if someone had driven by and picked her up? It makes me sick to my stomach and brings tears to my eyes to think about what could have happened. It would have been all my fault, and I never would have been able to live with myself. God was watching over her, and in that moment somehow she knew not to leave our front walkway.
I debated posting this or not, but I wanted to send a message to other toddler moms who may think their kids are safe. Who may think they’ve got their homes completely baby proofed. We hadn’t put any child locks on our doors yet because we didn’t think we needed to. We’d never seen her open that kind of door, and assumed she still couldn’t. Let this be a lesson to put locks on your doors long before you think you need them. Shame on me for not putting them up yet, and shame on me for getting comfortable and trusting her for just a little too long.
Toddlers are always watching, and curious by nature. They’re learning things we think they may not be able to comprehend yet, and are ready to push the limits without fear. Adeline is a climber, and certainly an explorer, and I’ll never forget this experience.
I am so, so thankful she is ok, and she didn’t get hurt. I never heard her open the front door. I never heard her close the door. Nothing. And in those moments where I was frantically searching for her, it never occurred to me to check the front yard. I still feel haunted by her little delicate, “mama mama” while I had my head stuck in the fridge trying to pull out the dang applesauce.
We now have childproof doorknob covers on both the front and back doors. We’ve also got a few lever locks for other doors around the house. I rocked Adeline a little longer Saturday night, and have been squeezing her a little tighter. Motherhood is tough, and what a lesson we learned.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you cope with it afterwards? How did you child proof your house?