3 S.R. Johannes: My Baby Girl

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Baby Girl

Beware this is a mom post

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?"

Here is a replay of that conversation:

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 ?"

Uncomfortable silence.

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 .

I fumbled and totally lied (I am not proud of it!) "uh, well my hubby wants to come since it is a night camping thing. He thought he could hang out with your hubby and help. You know roasting marshmellows and all - he thought it would be fun." (my poor hubby gets blamed for a lot of situations I need excuses for - It's wrong I know. It's either that or be in an awkward situation or hurt someone feelings. Sorry honey!!!! :( )

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 guess some may see me as the "over-involved" mom.

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.
"I do not want to eat if I am already full. It's not good for me."

My little baby girl was growing up.
As I drove home, I squeezed back tears as my 4 3/4 daughter went on and on about the events of her day. I listened, still wondering if I made the right decision on the bday party. Then as if reading my mind, she says:



"Hannah said she was having a camping party."

"I know. I told them you were coming."

"Are you coming too?"

GULP "Yes."

"Good cuz I don't want to go by myself."

"Really? why?"

"Cuz you're my best friend."
I smiled my biggest goofiest grin! I was so happy in that moment. I know I need to get ready to let go a bit of my little baby girl and I can't imagine how I will prepare my heart for that day.

But you know what?

That day is not today.


Doraine said...

Hooray for you! Don't obsess about obsessing. You'll know when she's ready to be on her own. What a treasure to know how she feels. You're a good mom, I'm sure.

Nice writing too.

Hardygirl said...

Okay, I totally agree with your decision here. I would NEVER let my four-year-old go by herself to a birthday party with open flames (and she's my third--so the "over-protective mom" thing ended pretty early for her).

I'm actually shocked that more parents didn't come. In fact, if I had hosted that party, I would have asked parents to come if they could. I had a swimming party for my five-year-old a few years ago and asked for "no drop-offs please".

Anyhoodle, I think the other mothers are the crazy ones. Hang onto that baby!!!!


Katie Anderson said...

Aawww - I loved reading this - although I am a dropper offer. Thank God nothing has ever happened! I suppose it could have.

I loved reading your notes from the conference. I will check back later and re-read. Thanks! I'm sorry we missed it. SF and I are looking forward to Feb.

Kristi Valiant said...

Great story, and I completely agree with your decision to stay too. Thanks for sharing so openly.

Anonymous said...

Awww! I loved this story! And, don't worry, you did the right thing. Four is way too young! We all do what we think is best for OUR kids.

I have two kids in HS. One, a senior! Yikes. And, you know what? I have never let them attend sleep overs. Too much to worry about. Do they have smoke detectors, are the windows locked in the child's room, do they lock their doors at night, do they have a crazy uncle living in the basement etc., EEK!

Danette V.(from Verla's)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Katie and Sarah - thanks for the support :) missed you this weekend.

Kristie - thanks for coming and for agreeing. Power to the over-protective moms!

Dannette - thanks for visiting me. Luckily I have no uncles :)

Dorib - thanks for commenting :)

Wyman Stewart said...

As a lifelong bachelor old enough to be a grandfather these days, I give you a standing ovation for the position you took in this situation. In fact, as I was reading it, I asked myself, "What kind of Mothers are these other Mothers?" You even mentioned several things like "fire", number of kids, only 2 adults watching the kids; these things were all alarm bells to me and I don't even have any kids or grandkids. The others above have said anything else I might say on this subject, except for one thing I will say below.

Review this post, then send it to some parenting magazine(s) to see if you can get this post published. It not only sounds like a perfect article to me, there are a lot of parents who need to read this, while letting your message sink in. WATCH YOUR KIDS;TRUST NO ONE, no matter how guilty that may make you feel sometimes. Some kids grow up despite their parents. You don't want to drop your kids off at a house like that. Take care and God bless. I have bookmarked you, even if not for this article. "I'LL BE BACK!"

Anonymous said...

Okay, I admit--I'm reading old posts so I can comment (you set the rules!). This one grabbed me. First of all, that pic with your baby...all i can say is *sob*. And I was totally you when my young'uns where little. I had a similar situation when my daughter was about that age. Not only that, I did not even know the child OR the parents. My answer? No Effin' way. You made the right call. And what your daughter said was so sweet!

Carrie Harris said...

How absolutely adorable this is.

We're the exact opposite in my neighborhood. My son turned five in October, and every parent came to his party with the exception of one, who brought in her little boy and then left without saying anything. And while I'm happy to look after someone's kid, I'd like to be asked first.

So I'm the paranoid mommy on my street too. It's just that there are a lot of paranoid mommies on my street, and one that lets her four-year-old run down the street by himself.