“In the final analysis it is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”
– Ann Landers
Pip wanted to play with her cousin last week and I explained that she was having a sleep-over at Grandma P. and Grandpa R.’s house. That was all it took. The seed had been planted; Pip wanted a sleep-over. We called Grandma P. to arrange a date and Pip started counting the days.
Now my parents are only a ten-minute drive away, but it was a big deal for Pip to sleep away from home. My husband and I haven’t gone on any trips together (yet) without the kids, and any time my mom has baby-sat for us, she has come over to our house. The plan was for my mom to pick Pip up at 2:30 pm on Friday so that they could enjoy the afternoon together, before having dinner. Pip would spend the night with her grandparents and we’d pick her up Saturday morning.
My mom had said to me on the phone, “Now this could be a huge success, or a complete disaster,” and I agreed. Pip had surprised me with her independence before, but she had also cried Thursday night after I left her bedroom because she missed me. One never knows how these ‘firsts’ are going to go. I had told Mom that it would be nice to say goodnight to Pip on the phone, but we agreed that Mom should initiate the call instead of me, just in case there were any rough patches.
I’ll tell you right now, the sleep-0ver was a huge success; for Pip. What my husband and I were not prepared for, was how much we would miss her! I’ll never forget the look on Big Daddy-O’s face when Grandma and Pip drove away from our house. I was standing at the door with Fig, trying to ignore the ridiculous tears forming in my eyes, and my husband gave me a look that I’ve never seen before, and I’ll not soon forget. It was a surprised, emotional look that said, ‘Can you believe how hard this is?’ He yelled up at me, “She just left and I already miss her!”
It felt so strange to be a family without Pip. Both my husband and I have been away from Pip for at least one night before, but it was a different experience to be at home, going through our normal rituals as a family without our eldest daughter. Of course we enjoyed our time with Fig, and I must say that she was in her element. She didn’t mention her sister once, she just lapped up all the undivided attention we were showering upon her.
When Fig was in the tub, both Big Daddy-O and I were in the bathroom with her, and I said, “I hope Pip calls soon.” My husband laughed.
“I bet we’re going to be saying that a lot when she’s fifteen.”
“Seventeen.” I countered.
Pip did indeed call shortly thereafter, and her voice sounded small and happy. It was pretty special for Pip to have Grandma and Grandpa all to herself. It was also special for our second child to have her parents all to herself. In the end, I think everyone benefitted from the sleep-over. It’s a brilliant feeling to know that there’s a place, other than home, where your child feels safe and well-loved and happy. Thanks Mom and Dad.