My baby is not such a baby any more. As you read this, she is 18 months old and toddling around the place with all the urgency (if not the lane discipline) of a 100 metre sprinter. But for the majority of those 18 months I’ve struggled inwardly (and sometimes not so inwardly) to find the courage to leave her to sleep overnight with her grandparents.
I always knew that the first time would be the hardest and that time came just a few weeks ago when Holly was around 16 months old. I admit, the problem with leaving her was entirely in my own head. Nothing to do with her. I knew, after all, that she would be absolutely fine and more than happy to stay at her grandparents’ house without us being there. But leave her I had to and, with a couple of events which necessitated not having her with us booked into the diary, we took the decision to have a practice run.
Holly was packed up and taken round to her Nana and Grandpa’s house for a lovely Saturday night sleepover. She was her usual, happy, carefree self and bounded into her grandparents’ house with glee aplenty. For me, however, it was a rather different picture. I’d spent the whole day dreading the drop off. Wishing the time to slow down and for the evening to just not bother arriving! But arrive it had and I was forced to admit that it was time to deposit her in the very capable hands of her grandparents and take my leave.
Were there tears? Tantrums? Refusals to accept the situation? Yes, absolutely. From me. Holly, on the other hand, was fine and dandy. She took it all in her stride, played with her plethora of toys, drank her milk and drifted peacefully off to sleep.
And so, it came to pass that my lovely husband and I had a whole night free. To do whatever we pleased. We could go out for a meal, go to the cinema, meet friends, have a few drinks, go to a party, go and see a show. Oh, the possibilities were endless… But instead, we chose to go home, lock the front door, place the telephone in an accessible spot should we be needed at short notice and wait the night out until such a time as we could go and fetch Holly back in the morning. OK, so we watched a film at high volume without the worry of waking our sleeping angel with loud explosions and overinflated chase scenes. But could we break the habit of talking in hushed tones in the kitchen or tiptoeing up the stairs to bed? Could we heck as like! For these are the things we do now. Our daughter is now such a massive part of our lives that even when she isn’t in the house we can’t help but think of her in everything we do.
What greeted me when I went round to pick her up at 9am the next day (I had to hold myself back from rocking up at 6am!) was a chirpy, happy little girl playing chase with her Grandpa, delighting everyone with her tinkling giggles and cheeky mimicry. The smile and cuddles she gave me as I walked through the door melted my heart and made the whole experience totally worth it (almost!).
So now we’ve made that momentous step in Holly’s life (which fazed her not one bit), I think hubby and I will arrange to actually do something next time Holly has a sleepover. Why not? Let’s push the boat out, eh?
by Helen Bowman © 2012
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