Help Me! I Feel Emotionally Invested In My Daughter’s Social Life

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Recently, I’ve come to realize that sleepovers are a tired mom’s dream. Especially if you have an only child, the opportunity to have a friend there to entertain them all night long is pretty amazing. Other than getting snacks and maybe starting a movie, I can sit back and relax while someone else plays the bad guy/best friend/teacher/fairy godmother. Honestly, why were my parents so against sleepovers when I was a kid?

Because my daughter is still pretty young, we’re still limited on our overnight guests. Her friends from daycare are still pretty little to be spending the night away from home. Honestly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my daughter staying away all night at the age of four either. Thankfully, we had a huge assortment of cousins who all live in the same city. They keep my daughter’s social calendar pretty full all year long.

This past weekend, we invited one of my daughter’s favorite people over for a slumber party and a day at the zoo. Let’s just call her cousin, “Couz” because they think it’s funny to call each other that. Couz is an amazingly fun and polite 6-year-old boy. He and my daughter can play superheroes for hours on end. I was pretty excited about Couz’s visit.

So, we ate homemade spaghetti and meatballs. We rented the latest kid’s movies. We popped popcorn. I thought that the night was a complete success. Then it came time to say good night.

I could tell that Couz wasn’t happy about something. My daughter was fully tucked in and comfortable on the top bunk, but Couz just couldn’t seem to get the right set-up. He didn’t like that there were stuffed animals on the bunk, so we moved them. He didn’t want the blanket, so we switched it out for another. As I sat down to kiss my nephew good night, I saw small tears start to glisten at the corners of his eyes.

Suddenly, I was an insecure kid trying to make friends all over again. Suddenly, my mothering capabilities were doubtful. As Couz started to tell me that he missed his mom, I felt like I had failed at the the time-honored tradition that is sleepovers. Was I not enough fun? Should I let them stay up later?

When my daughter started to ask what was wrong, Couz told us that he just really wanted to sleep in his own bed tonight. My daughter, in her infinite awesomeness, climbed down from her bunk and gave her cousin a big hug. My heart almost melted from cuteness when she patted his back and told him that it was okay. She was handling the whole thing like a champ. I was wondering if I should have bought ice cream. Why else would our guest want to leave? My daughter is too young to be the hostess. If someone, even a child, doesn’t like my house, isn’t it my fault?

In that moment, I saw a scary future stretching out before me. Am I destined to be one of the parents who feels emotionally invested in their children’s social lives forever? God, I hated those parents as a kid! I mentally told myself to get a grip. Sometimes kids just want to stay in their own beds. Sometimes sleepovers for little ones don’t work out. It didn’t mean that my house wasn’t fun enough.

I realized that I need to take a step back when it comes from my daughter’s social engagements. I probably shouldn’t look at them as a reflection of my own personality. But I would be a complete liar if I pretended that I wasn’t a little relieved to find out that my nephew is just suffering from a little summer flu. No wonder he wanted to go home!