Yesterday, my daughter was invited to a birthday party. A camping party at night where they cook marshmellows and play games.
Yesterday on a park playdate, I see the mom (we will call her X) of the bday girl so I decide to RSVP. I am the slacker mom who always forgets to properly RSVP until a day or 2 before :( It's bad I know. I just forget, really!
In that conversation - I was faced with yet another situation that left me wondering: "when do you begin letting your child do things without you by their side?"
Me - "I got the invitation and wanted to give you a verbal RSVP - my daughter and I will be there."
Cricket cricket . A group of moms stopped talking and stared at me.
X - "You're coming ?"
Me - "Yes, is that ok? Was i not supposed to?"
X - "I just wanted to get a number of people for food ."
Me - "Oh, well I won't be eating so don't feel like you need to get more than you planned."
X - "I thought you would just drop her off."
Cricket cricket .
X - "Oh ok. (Turns to group) - is anyone dropping their kid off?"
All the moms sing out in unison: "We are."
X - "You are more than welcome to drop off. We dropped our daughter off when she was just 3. Isn't Maddy almost 5?"
ME - GULP. "Uh Yeah thanks. Listen, I need to be honest with you and let my hubby off the hook. He doesn't care about coming as much. It's me - I'm not just ready for that yet. I think she's still too young."
There I said it! I took responsibility for being the neurotic, over-protective mom. The crazy mom in the group. The mom who volunteers first for every field trip, the mom who signs up to be "room parent", the mom who comes to every party, and the mom who loves to be the reader on mystery reader day.
I came home last night, feeling awful. It bothered me all night. I obsessed over 1,000 questions that pummelled through my exhausted and over-worked brain.
Was I crowding my 4 year old? Was I being controlling? Was I going to raise a weird kid? Was I going to raise a rebellious kid? Was she old enough? Was it safe?
When my hubby got home - I told him about it. He - the laid-back one - said "I think you did the right thing. I agree, she is too young especially for a night bday. She's only 4."
I felt a bit better but it nagged me all morning.
He's right, my daughter is only 4! Why should I let her go to a night bday party and roast marshmellows over an open fire by herself when there are only 2 parents and 12 kids? It is not like she is 13 - she is 4....ok 4 1/2 but who is counting.
Why do we want our kids to grow up so fast? Why do we have to? Why do we yearn to find places to "drop them off."? Why is it wrong to experience as much as we can with her? Wont there be plenty of time to let go?" Why can't we keep them close to us as long as we can?"
I realize there is coming a time to let go of my baby girl a little each day. There will be a time when I will not be going to parties. I will not know what she does during the day in class. She won't want to have play dates at our house. And I will not be as cool to her as I am now. :( I ended up crying this morning at this realization that my baby girl is growing up and some day I will no longer know her every move or every thought the way I have for the past 4 1/2 years. I will not see the jokes she laughs at or be there when a kid is mean. At some point, when she skins her knee, someone else may put that bandage on and make it better.
All day, I felt heavy at this realization. Something I am sure every mom goes through. Good lord, what will it be like when she drives, or goes off to college? I can't imagine.
When I picked my little girl up at school - I suddenly noticed how much older she looked. She had on cool clothes that she picked out HERSELF. She had pulled out her cute pigtails. And, she was whispering something to a friend that I woudl never know. She hopped in the car and asked to ride in the booster seat - all the way in the back of the car - 2 rows back. She even buckled herself in on her own. She then proceeded to explain to me why she did not eat her veggies at school.
My little baby girl was growing up.
"Hannah said she was having a camping party."
"I know. I told them you were coming."
"Are you coming too?"
"Good cuz I don't want to go by myself."
"Cuz you're my best friend."
But you know what?
That day is not today.