I am beginning to understand why people have more than one child. These sweet little people can be so addicting.
I wouldn’t have said that in the beginning. In fact, I didn’t much like Heidi then (true story). But I like her now. I adore her. I am obsessed with her. We’ve been through a lot this past year, gotten to know each other a little better, and we’re in a good place.
This past weekend, I left her overnight at my parents’ for the first time. It was the first night I’ve ever been away from her and probably the longest stretch of time I’ve left her in general. My husband’s workplace had a company party, and I wasn’t sure what time we’d be home, so my mom said, “Just bring her here for the night and pick her up in the morning.”
Sounds easy. But my heart reacted as if she had said, “oh, just lock her up in the closet for the night and throw some Cheerios in. She’ll be fine.” I stammered that she has not been sleeping well when we’ve been traveling, and I didn’t want to put her and dad through a long, sleepless night. Mom insisted they would be just fine. “Just bring her.”
I relented, and started to pack an overnight bag. I literally teared up three times. I envisioned her screaming from her pack ‘n play, wondering why mom wasn’t coming to get her, feeling alone and abandoned. I pictured her and my dad, both exhausted, sleeping on the couch with the tv on low, Heidi tucked into the crevice of his arm having finally dozed off. I pictured mom and dad the next morning, frazzled and eyes red-rimmed, lips to coffee cups, glad they only had Heidi for one night.
That evening, when we dropped her off, Heidi nearly squeeled with glee when she saw her grandparents. There is nothing quite like seeing my daughter so in love with my parents. She sat on my mom’s lap, legs happily swinging and playing with a couple toys. I kissed her and said goodbye. She glanced up, waved, then focused on her toys some more, totally fine that I was leaving her. Cody and I left for the party.
We had a great time, and it was nice to not worry about getting back by a certain time. We had to swing by my parents’ to pick up my car keys. Cody wasn’t going to allow me inside at all, assuming I’d run up the stairs and scoop up Heidi to take her home. But I promised him I would not. I stepped into the house, fully expecting to hear the sounds of Heidi being awake or Heidi crying or Heidi wrestling with mom and dad to go to sleep. I walked into the living room to see my parents sitting quietly reading in the living room.
“Well??” I asked. “How’s it going?”
My mom gave me a funny look and said, “Well, it’s midnight. She’s asleep.”
And I said, “Is she ok? I mean, did everything go ok?”
My mom took her reading glasses off and gave me a sarcastic look. “We’ve done this before, Jamie.”
I felt sheepish. It was true. She had done this way more than me, in fact, four times total. If anything, she was more equipped to handle Heidi than I was. It was just that I knew exactly which books she liked to read before bed. I knew how she liked to be laid down and tucked in. I knew the little things that made her laugh when she was crying. I knew which cry meant I needed to go check on her and which cry meant she was just being restless in her sleep. I knew that sometimes she just needed a quick hug before laying back down. A part of me felt like if she needed any of that, exactly how I do it, and I wasn’t there to give it, she would think I had left her.
But turns out, that’s just a new mom thing. Babies typically are more flexible than their moms give them credit for. At least, that’s how Heidi is. She was more than fine at my parents’ the entire night, not waking once until 7:30. My dad even checked on her at 5am to “see if she was still breathing. ” (Thanks, Dad). Then she easily went down for a morning nap after breakfast, sleeping another hour and a half.
My girl never fails to impress me in new situations. I don’t know why I always expect the worst. It’s funny. As moms, our job is to teach our children how to spread their wings. I think a lot of us find, however, that our children are the ones teaching us to spread our own wings.