The other evening, I had the greatest honor to host a “sleepover” with one of my daughter’s best friends. Why was it an “honor”, you say? Well, it was an honor because this precious girl has always struggled with leaving the comfort of her mother and her home. It was an honor because she wanted once again to try to stay the night…in hopes of her strength winning the battle over her weakness…in hopes that maybe this time she will take that giant step off the cliff of security and into a whole new world of existence…. Which would lead to an entire night of independence. She had grown so much since we met her in first grade! It was a difficult year for her in a new school and being away from her mom all day. A triumphant year as well watching her grow in strength every day as her suffering lessened little by little. Those first days of school I couldn’t be more proud to share that my daughter scooped this precious soul up and tried to help ease her pain. Even though this was a new experience for them both, they seemed to fit together in a nice comfortable duo. They were friends from the beginning of this journey and continue to be as close now in second grade. I got extra lucky! Her mom is almost as precious as her! What a wonderful layer of friendship it has become!
So as you might guess, I tend to take all matters to heart. (Now stop laughing those of you who know me!!) I may be a little too personal, but it is just who I am. Knowing this beautiful girl and her mother quite well and developing a love for them only reinforced my need to help her achieve this daunting leap. I was ready! Mission POSSIBLE! She seemed tentatively excited….as my daughter was of course out of control ecstatic! Her mom and I strategized and organized the plan…. Knowing full well, we are gambling the odds. Here’s how it went:
Mom brought over pillow and sleeping bag. Stayed to visit as daughter got increasingly uncomfortable saying her tummy was hurting. Daughter did NOT want mom to come over in the first place….now we realize why. A mother moment for both of us….she didn’t want to feel that vulnerable temptation! Why didn’t we think of that?? Out the door goes mom, after several hugs, kisses, long goodbyes, and tentative looks from daughter….whew! First goal achieved! She didn’t leave with mom!
Next, total humor distraction provided by my daughter with complete hyperactivity and craziness. It worked! And worked! And worked…. I told the girls they can sleep in our king size bed with me, thinking that might help give a little security to her and she seemed thrilled with that plan. Up we go….my daughter getting out of control nuts so I tell her it’s time to calm down. She whispers to me, “but mom she’s having fun! She’s staying! I don’t want her to go!!!” What to do? I let the girls stay goofy as ever as I lied in bed hoping they would wear out …. I realized they were not going down any time soon. Left them and said I will come back later. My daughter had a good point. She was making this night hilariously fun for her friend. That was needed. Ok. I get it.
It’s now midnight and the girls come down. “Can we do crafts??” They ask as this as they are dancing and singing a goofy song of sorts. Why certainly! As I set up the crafts all over the table, my husband starts going upstairs to bed in my daughter’s room….He looks at the table with the girls gluing and sticking and the table covered with parts of animals foam. I knew it was coming…he says, “I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but shouldn’t they be getting to bed?” I quietly walk him upstairs and explain. “This is big. Really big. We are gonna make this happen if it means the girls don’t even sleep tonight! I am on a MISSION!” He gets it. Because, thank God….he gets me. Back downstairs to crafts….
It’s now 1:00am. I have cleaned up the crafts and sent mom a picture of the girls doing the crafts having fun and all is right with the tired weary world. Upstairs girls! It’s 1:00 in the morning! We have to go to the basketball game at 9:00. Time to start to settle down…. They continue to giggle and make jokes, squirm, and play in bed. Both girls lean over to give me a good night kiss as this precious girl who has made it half way through the night says to me in a quiet whisper, “I wanna go home”. Ah…. No….no….I wanted to cry as my heart sank, but took a deep breath and said “all right honey”. Then she jumped up and blurted, “Just kidding!!!” OH no you DI- IN’T!!!!! That was quite the funny one, now wasn’t it? I was so relieved and quite frankly laughing myself!
After my final holler at my daughter to calm down, they both settled into a comfy spot, this sweetheart nudged up behind me as I lied on my side facing away from the girls. I was so glad to offer her a “substitute security” with my presence, while I sensed her quickly fall asleep. After all, it was going on 2:00am. I froze. I wasn’t gonna move for NOTHING!! I felt her breathing on my back. She was ASLEEP! SHE DID IT!!!! SHE JUMPED OFF THE EDGE!!! SHE HAS TRIUMPHED!!! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! WOOHOO!! HIP HIP HOORAY!!!! GO GIRL!!!! FLY FREE!!!!
I started to cry. Quiet tears of joy for this special little girl. This was big. She did it. All her. No one else. She allowed herself to be vulnerable and face her fear head on. She conquered it. She is so very brave. She is strong. She is victorious! Man, WHAT an amazing experience…for her, and for me! This is joy. A joy only a mother can know. It really doesn’t have to be your own child…this child…gave me joy.
This may be a little blip of a memory for her, as the sleepovers will start to blur together through the years and this one will be a tiny faded twinkle. But for me, it was indeed a moment. A change in her life, where she was able to trust and depend on herself and take another scary step alone. A moment that would be one more building block to her foundation of who she is and who she will become. I was there..in it with her celebrating for her. I lay still and quiet for what seemed like forever…. So afraid of waking her! Fearful, if she woke, she would panic and want to go home…
But she didn’t. She slept all through the few remaining hours of the night and woke up without a hint of uneasiness. Nothing new to her on this day! Just a fun sleepover! But deep within her soul, there’s a party going on.
Yep, just a sleepover. One of those common events that multiply through the years, and seem quite ordinary. But for this little angel, it was extraordinary.