As we all know, life with children is busy…extremely busy. At times, I cannot believe how quickly time goes by. I often I look at my children and want time to slow down, just a little bit, so that I may experience them at this stage for just a little bit longer.
As a parent of multiple children, there are many firsts that I missed with one child but am able to fully experience with another. And I thank God every day for those second chances.
In recent months, my youngest child has been asking repeatedly to have a sleepover with one of her friends. She is only six and a half years old, and with no extended family here in Toronto, and limited opportunities, she has had very little experience sleeping anywhere without mom and dad in the next room.
For months, I was reluctant to say yes. After all, she still needs me or my husband to rub her back to help her fall asleep, or to take her to the bathroom at 11 PM to avoid any unnecessary mishaps.
As her mother, the last thing I wanted was a call in the middle of the night to come to get her, or fear that an accident or nightmare would embarrass her to the extent that she would never want to sleep out of the house again. I wanted her first sleepover experience to be successful, and subsequently for her to feel pride and accomplishment and just a little bit more grown up.
So I avoided it the topic. I avoided allowing her to have a friend sleep over, or have her sleep out.
That is, until this past weekend.
Earlier last week, yet again, my daughter asked for a friend to come over. She had witnessed her sisters, numerous times, having friends here, and all the fun and mischief that ensued (all innocent, of course…)….pillow fights, movies with popcorn, games, etc. She wanted this, too.
This time I relented. I agreed to have a friend come here for the night. That was my compromise. Saturday night was sleepover night.
My daughter was beyond excited. Saturday night could not come soon enough.
The moment she woke up Saturday, she cleaned off the floor of her room to make sure there was enough space for her friend and the stuffed animals they were going to have join them for their tea party.
Throughout the day, numerous times, she would ask me when ‘night time would come’. We were both filled with anticipation, and watching her prepare for this first brought so much joy to both my husband and myself.
And the night was a total success. Fun was had by all. Bedtime was relatively painless. No one got up with nightmares or wanting to go home. There were no wetting accidents. In my book, it was win-win all around.
And as her mother, I was elated. Elated that I can watch my daughter bask in such glee over a mere play date, but also because I was proud of myself for not letting my fear of something getting in the way interfere with my daughter’s desire to grow and experience new things.
And I realized more than ever that it is often our fear or anxiety that hinders growth in our children, not necessarily the reluctance from children themselves.
So as I pause, and take it all in, I try to hold on to my youngest daughter’s innocence just a little bit longer, knowing full well that next time she will request to sleep out, or go away to summer camp, or walk by herself to a friend’s house, or take public transit for the first time…All these experiences are waiting for her. And although I am reluctant to let that little girl grow up too quickly, I am so looking forward to being a part of that roller coaster ride.
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