By Erika: Sleepovers

My older son just turned 7. Last night, he had a sleepover at the next-door neighbor’s house, which is occupied by another 7 year old boy. I can’t believe that he actually did it, and he had fun. Why?

I did not successfully have a sleepover at someone else’s house until I was at least 10. There were many failed attempts resulting in me having an emotional breakdown, trying to decide at 10pm whether it was worse to stay there all night or suffer the humiliation of waking up my friend’s parents to call my mom to have her come get me. I always chose the latter. And for whatever reason my mother never said anything discouraging or scolding — we just tried again another time. For me, the worst part was the fear that I might actually be there all night and not be able to sleep in that strange place. In my young mind, I just felt that if I were to have a sleepless night that something horrible would happen. I was terrified.

The irony is pretty deep in that by the time I was 10, slumber parties became precisely about staying up all night, which is what cured my sleepover problem. Once I didn’t HAVE to sleep, the anxiety went away and then I was actually able to sleep if I chose to risk my bra being placed in the freezer by a nonsleeper. Moreover, who knew I would grow up and have babies and spend night after sleepless night with no free time to sleep during the day to compensate?! Ironic, indeed.

I have wished my kids older since the day they were born. I know you aren’t supposed to do that because it goes by so fast, but I can’t help it. Now that they are 7 and almost 5, however, I think I am ready to press pause and have them stay this age for a long time. On weekend evenings I can put out cereal and cups of juice, and in the morning the kids just grab them and go watch TV on their own while Mommy and Daddy sleep until 9am. They are the perfect balance right now. Self-sufficient, but they still need me. Smart, but they still have a lot to learn. Big, but not too big to fit on my lap for bedtime stories.

This morning I realized that someday soon (maybe this summer!) I will find myself at home while my kids are sleeping at the neighbors’ house, and my husband is at the fire station, and I will be totally alone. I think it will bother me. I presently enjoy my “alone time” every third night when my husband is gone, but that is with my boys sleeping soundly in their rooms. Somehow that makes all the difference. Maybe I wanted my son to fail at a sleepover, just to keep him closer a tiny bit longer…

Fast forward a dozen years when my boys are in college, and being totally alone every third night will be my new “normal.” I guess when that happens I will have to start a new trend of ladies in their 50’s having slumber parties. We will drink wine, eat chocolate, and talk about how great our kids are. Any takers?

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