Saturday, February 25
2:00 p.m. – Eric (aka Mo) drops Rass off at his classmate’s house for a birthday party sleepover – it’s to be his first one (not including Grandparent sleepovers). The kids will head out to the Family Fun Center to play laser tag and drive bumper cars, then return to the house for some pizza and cake. The night’s festivities will include watching Star Wars and playing Wii.
2:40 p.m. – Mo, Bro and I head North for some Outlet shopping.
4:09 p.m. – Grandma leaves a message. She’s not sure she’ll sleep that night, thinking about Rassy.
5:40 p.m. – The three of us are back at our house with Mexican food. I have the urge to call or text the birthday boy’s mom, just to see how things are going, find out what they’re doing, make sure everything’s OK. I ignore the impulse, and scoop another chip with salsa into my mouth.
7:11 p.m. – Our 3-year-old is asleep and I plop on the couch feeling miserable with a cold.
8:54 p.m. – Lights out. No call. No changed mind. No “Mom, please come get me.” I stash the house phone and cell phone on the nightstand, just in case.
12:15 a.m. – Our 3-year-old wakes up and I stumble to his room, amazed that the phones are still silent.
2:11 a.m. – I’m startled awake, thinking “It’s happening, it’s happening…he’s actually spending the night at somebody else’s house.”
6:45 a.m. – The three of us rise and enjoy a quiet morning. I look forward to picking up Rass and hearing about his adventure.
8:40 a.m. – I drive to pick him up on the way to church. I knock on the door, excited to see him after his big night. The mom answers the door and I walk in. The boys stare at me blankly. There are no smiles. There is no welcome. This is not the sweet reunion I’ve hoped for – or even remotely similar to the ones we shared, like say, when he was in preschool. I’m simply the person who’s interrupting the Star Wars video game. I struggle to keep up my pleasant voice and ask the boys about their night. A couple of them answer. Rass does not. He is silent. He looks from me to the TV. He does not want to leave. I gently remind him that we need to go. He takes his duffel bag and disappears into the bathroom. It takes a long time. I knock and enter, and that’s when the tears flow. “I don’t want to go. I want to stay. I want to eat pancakes. I don’t want to go…” I try to explain that other moms will be picking up their kids shortly. He doesn’t hear it. He only knows that he’s the first one to leave. He only knows that I’ve majorly crashed this party. He’s mad. Infuriated. In this moment, he hates everything I stand for. I am crushed inside. The night had been a Big Deal for me, yet it was a Big Deal for him for entirely different reasons.
We manage to say thanks and bid farewell. He continues sobbing in the car, telling me how mean I am.
After church, the day goes rather smoothly, given the lack of sleep. Sunday night as we’re winding down, he calls to me from downstairs, “Hey mom, we can watch that new Cupcake Wars we recorded.”
I breathe a sigh of relief.
I started the day as the enemy, but am ending it as mom.
And I realize that with growing independence, and experiences like birthday party sleepovers, the roles will continue to be one and the same.