Unaccompanied Minors

One mother-to-be seeks the elusive balance between keeping her child safe and instilling a true sense of independence.

July 2013

My baby isn’t even sleeping in his or her comfy, forest-themed nursery yet; as of this writing, I don’t even know which gender my firstborn will be. All I know is that Lyle and I now have only a few more days to cling to the most control we’ll have over our child for the rest of our lives. Where I go, my baby goes. And even though I don’t yet have to worry about some creep snatching my child out of the backyard, I’m already planning the changes I want to make to provide at least a shot at the type of childhood I had: one of exploration within the boundaries, not timid confinement behind brick walls.

Some prefer to raise kids in the city; others would rather be tucked away in suburbs where minivans outnumber taxis and city buses. Lyle and I will probably trade our nine-minute bike ride to Coors Field for a place where our kid—and hopefully, kids—can bounce between neighbors’ homes, knocking on doors to see who can come out to play. A neighborhood where I can watch from my back deck on warm summer nights while they play moonlit games of capture the flag between backyards. Maybe I’ll even join in.

Either way, I’ll be waiting for them when they run home—sweaty, covered in dirt, and sporting gap-toothed grins—to ask if they can play for just a few more minutes. I’ll try to recall those first few thoughts I had when I realized I was going to be a mom, and I’ll send them back out, knowing that the simple trust I dole out is a gift they’ll always remember.