The One Where I Should Have Stayed

I brought Maddie to a birthday party at the house of one of her friends from daycare.  Maddie had been counting down the days until the party, and she was so excited the big day had finally arrived.  She wore an adorable party dress and her hair in braids.  She proudly carried her friend’s gift, lovingly wrapped in Frozen-themed wrapping paper.  As we stepped in the door, all her little friends hugged her tightly and squealed, “Yay, Maddie’s here!”

The birthday girl’s mom said to me, “You’re welcome to stay if you’d like, or you can go get a few things done.  We’re going to play some games and have some cupcakes.”

“Thank you, I’ll just stay a few minutes and make sure Maddie is okay,”  I replied.

None of the other moms stayed.  The host mom was busy orchestrating the party, so I hung out awkwardly in the kitchen with Katie for a few minutes.  Then I went over to say good-bye to Maddie.  “I’ll be back in a bit to pick you up.  Have fun!,” I told her.

And that’s when Maddie started crying and asking me to stay.

I probably should have stayed.  I probably should have not cared what all the other moms did.  I probably should have hung out awkwardly in the kitchen.  I probably should have let my presence be a reassurance to my five-year-old daughter.   I probably should not be so trusting of this family whom I had only just met.

But I didn’t.  I assured Maddie she would be fine, and I left.  I kissed her on the head, silently willing her to be brave, and I left.  I carried three-year-old Katie to the car as she cried and cried that she missed her sister, and I left.  I put my sunglasses on so Katie wouldn’t see me crying too, and I left.  I worried the whole time she was at the party.   The party where she asked me to please stay, but I didn’t.  Was she having fun?  Was she still crying?  Was she scared?  Was she worried?  Was she playing or sitting off somewhere by herself?  Was she wondering when I was coming back?

I returned 90 minutes later.  Maddie was having a great time.  She didn’t want to leave.  She was having so much fun with her little friends.  Still, I just can’t shake the feeling that I should have stayed.

I wish I would have stayed.

8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Join at Two Writing Teachers.

8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge. Join at Two Writing Teachers.

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17 thoughts on “The One Where I Should Have Stayed

  1. It’s never easy to make decisions like that when your child asks you to stay. You want to be there for them, but also know they need to learn to navigate on their own. We often watch to see what others are doing. You did your best. No second guessing.

  2. Some decisions are really tough to make…stay or don’t stay? I think you made the right choice both for you and for Maddie. I’m sure it will be easier the next time because I know there will be a next time.

  3. I liked the powerful ending of your slice “I wish I would have stayed.” Not yet being a mother, I don’t know the emotions moms go through when making difficult decisions like that, but I have a feeling Maddie is now just a little bit more independent because of your decision. I enjoy reading your ‘mom moment’ posts because your writing does such a great job at conveying the love you have for your girls.

  4. Maddie reminds me so much of me as a little girl from every story I’ve read about her. I cried every time my mom left me. Now my mom is one of my best friends but I don’t cry when she leaves me 😉

  5. Wow! A lot of power packed into a few words. Ultimately, as painful as it was, I believe you did the right thing. There will be many more parties…..and each time it will be a little easier for both of you. I wish I could tell you that “mom” decisions become easier as time goes on…..but having been mom for nearly 40 years, I can honestly say, I still have my moments. All we can do is make our decisions with love…..and that, you always do! ❤

  6. We moved to our house in March before youngest started Kindergarten. We live in the country. A month into kindergarten youngest was invited to a birthday party. I knew no one. People target practice in their backyards. I had no idea if the house had guns. They did have two big dogs. I stayed. No one else did. I felt so uncomfortable. It’s a town where if you weren’t born here, you are never considered to be from here. He was only invited to one other party about two weeks later. I stayed then too. He hasn’t been to another party other than his best friends since. I feel bad. Maybe it was weird. But I’d do it again. Trust your heart. It worked out fine. And she may be invited to other parties. 😉

  7. I know you did the right thing. I think it’s just like having to leave them at daycare or letting them cry it out at night (hahaha). You will not be able to stay at every single party that she goes to and it will get easier and easier for the both of you each time. She ended up having a great time and she will at the next one as well! 🙂

  8. It must be so hard. Watching your child cry and want you. From this side I feel like you did the right thing…especially after reading the rest of your piece. But, the problem is that you don’t know until afterward. If only you had that insight BEFORE you left. You shared your emotions beautifully. This struggle between building independence and nurturing and loving your child. So hard.

  9. A difficult decision for sure. Even though you feel that you should have stayed, I think it was good that you left for a while. It’s okay mom, this won’t be the memory that she tells everyone as an adult. 🙂

  10. Aw, I can feel how conflicted you felt (and are still feeling) through your words here. No one prepares you for all these day-to-day parenting decisions. Sounds like you made a good choice, though, and taught her an enduring lesson–even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

  11. Your words “I wish I would have stayed” is now lingering in my thoughts. Thinking about times in my life where “I wish I would have stayed”

  12. I agree. As hard as it is/was, you did the right thing. I say that but I’d be saying the something to myself over and over, “I should have stayed.” I haven’t had to experience this yet … and know I’ll think twice about staying. Beautifully written.

  13. It is such a hard decision to make. Do we stay or let them take a step toward independence? I think we just have to listen to our heart and just that it will always lead us in the right direction.

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