Gal Smiley has been invited to a sleepover, and it’s causing me some anxiety.
It’s not the first sleepover invite she’s received. Last year, when she was in grade 2, she made friends with a girl in her class who is very, very, into sleepovers. Early in the year she started inviting the Gal for sleepovers.
This girl seemed perfectly nice and her parents seemed perfectly nice but we were a little nervous about the concept. Gal Smiley was into it, make no mistake about it, but we were the ones holding back. She just seemed too young. We didn’t know the family at all. It was a big step and we were not ready for it.
So we deferred, made excuses. The Gal went over for playdates, but we picked her up before bedtime. Still, the friend continued to press for a sleepover, making elaborate invites detailing all the plans she had for this epic event. I started to feel really guilty about saying no all the time, when it was clearly so important to other girl, and her parents really went out of their way to make us feel secure about the whole thing.
So when spring rolled around and we got one more invite – this time for the girl’s actual birthday – we decided to go for it. Everything was great, Gal Smiley got zero sleep but had an amazing time, all good.
Of course, she was invited for a sleepover the very next week. That girlfriend likes her sleepovers. We went back to making excuses.
Now it’s a new year and a new grade and two weeks in, we got our first lovingly handcrafted, extremely detailed invitation for a sleepover. GAH.
I can no longer tell if I am being a paranoid, helicopter parent, or if I’m being remotely reasonable. I’m out of excuses and I can’t really explain that I have to say no, even when both girls are excited about the idea, because it’s just too much for me, as a parent. When I was a kid, I had exactly two sleepovers, both in Grade 5, both with a girl who was my super most excellent bestest friend ever, and we were inseparable. They were amazing, but clearly defined special events. Unique experiences that would not be repeated on a weekly basis. Have times changed?
I think I am having some kind of knee-jerk reaction where I fear Gal Smiley being slowly enveloped into another family. They are more than happy to have her sleep over every weekend. But it’s not okay for me. Sorry, Gal.
I am acutely aware lately of how fleeting these days are with my children. Of course, they’ll always be my babies, but these times when I tuck them in at night with a story and a hug, then see their sleepy eye-rubbing first thing each morning, are precious and few. I love my mom and would consider us close, but the truth is I have not lived at home since I was 18 years old, and now that I live a seven hour drive away and have three kids of my own, I only see her three times a year for a couple days at a time. Maybe someday I’ll be cool with that, but while I have the chance to keep my own children close, I’m going to take it.
I like the feeling of curling up on the couch at night knowing all my kids are snug in their beds. I like the feeling of us all being together, safe in our home. I like the feeling that my family is still intact, just us, together.
Is that weird?
I used to think I’d be the kind of mom that welcomed every kid in the neighbourhood over. Who kept an open door policy, and our house would be full of my own kids, and their friends, and their friends’ friends, while I kept everyone full of cookies and apple juice (while wearing a really cute 50s style apron, of course). Now I fear I am the exact opposite – I want my family here and everyone else out there.
I know it can’t last forever – but why rush them out the door?
So for this week’s invitation – we decided not this time. Playdate, dinner, okay. Sleepover – not okay. I’m sorry, Gal – I know you’d love to go. I know this other family is kind and nice and would love to have you sleepover.
But I am going to be selfish. This time, the next time, and for as long as I can hold on.