It has been a strange few weeks. What should have been some of the happiest and most fun days of the year, actually turned out to be some of the most boring. Durga Puja and Kali Puja this year SUCKED, and sucked HARD. Mental emotional states were at a fairly low place to begin with, and breaking my foot just before the festivities began didn’t help. The plaster cast on my foot effectively put an end to all and any enjoyment of the normal puja activities, and confined me to home. It also put paid to all the holiday and travel plans that I had been so thrilled about.
The major concern, of course, was not letting all the negativity affect the little one’s fun. She, after all, deserved her puja and diwali fun, no matter the state of mommie’s health! So, after months of convincing, little miss decided she was going to spend the duration with the geographically closer grandparents. They have a durga puja in their building, (what fun!) not to mention a new set of kids who have taken up residence there.
Now I’ve been trying to get the little one to have a sleepover for quite a while now. Various reasons of course (not the least of which is some LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG forgotten privacy and solo time with my man) some a little selfish, some not so much, behind the drive. She’s almost six now, and its past time that she begins to outgrow her dependence on us. She’s a pretty independent little character, having inherited strong woman genes from both sides of the family tree, and there has never been a problem with her learning to do the basic things like dressing herself or tying her own shoelaces. She plays little imaginary games for hours, needing little or no constant supervision (so only half my mind needs to be focused on her at any given time :D ). However, until now, staying away from us for an entire night has never been an option to her.
She’s happy being with the people she knows and trusts, like the grandparents or close friends of ours, for a few hours, especially in the daytime. But as evening approaches, my little lark begins to droop with sleep, and when that happens, no one else will do. Either mommie, or daddy, or preferably both, MUST be around to do the bedtime story and the tucking in and the putting to sleep. And god forbid she should wake in the morning (4.30 or 5 am being her usual time) and turn her sleepy head and not see at least one of us there.
As a result, date nights and late partying have taken a beating, and we didn’t mind. Seemed important that she feel secure in her little universe. This time, however, it was different. She realized (smart little thing that she is) that clinging to the parents was only going to ruin her holiday. So, for about two weeks prior to the main event, she primed herself up to stay over. Of course, the added temptation of kids her own age to play with helped the psyching process. As lonely and isolated as kids are these days, any chance of company of the same age is a huge draw.
So, off she went! One test night, hassle free, and there she was, staying with the old folk for the entire week! Not just that, she was too busy and too happy to even bother with talking to mommie on the phone! Much fun was had, with almost seven kids congregating there, and a lot of dressing up (which she loves to do) and playing. For Diwali, once the fireworks were all accumulated, she insisted she wanted to go over again and burn them there, with her friends. So, three successive nights she spent playing and letting off fireworks with her buddies, in complete bliss.
How fast they grow! Now that she is having sleepovers, I feel a little weird. Happy, of course that she is stretching out the umbilical cord and finding her own identity, but a little sad to be losing the little creature who depended so fully on me. Yes, it was a chore, one that lasted almost six years, but it is truly amazing to be NEEDED like that. Now that she needs me a little less to be happy and peaceful and secure, I am getting a tiny foretaste of the empty nest syndrome. Suddenly I can flash forward to college, job postings, marriage, and every other thing that is one day going to put a lot of distance (physical if not emotional) between us, and truth be told…I am dreading it.
And yet, cest la vie. She will grow up, needing me a little less each day. She will learn to do more and more things for herself, and depend on me less and less for her basic needs. She will have more and more people in her ever expanding life, getting a little further away –at each step – from the all encompassing mother-need that ruled her life for over five years. All of this is inevitable, and healthy. So why on earth does it make my gut wrench so? Now I really feel an almost overpowering need to rewind life and go back to the day I brought the little bundle home, wrapped in her teddy bear blanket. Mothers are weird :D