Tuesday night Mia had her first sleepover. She is six. This was her first night away from home without the family.
In the light of this morning, I could smile at the question of her younger sister, "Where's Mia?" and the giggles when Dad and I made a snuggly Eleanor sandwich in bed. It felt strange to have a little family of only three but I was calm.
The next morning I could smile at the phone message left last night from the hosting mom. She whispered, "The girls were asleep at 8:45. We read books and they brushed their teeth and Mia said she didn't have to go to the bathroom, but she tried. I'm sorry again that we didn't get your message. I hope you weren't too worried."
I was too worried that night. I couldn't smile, I couldn't find perspective, I couldn't think outside my own worst imagination. I dialed and redialed the two contact numbers I had - the mom's cell and what I thought was their home number. "Please leave a message!" was the pittance the phone could offer me before I threw it on the couch in frustration.
My misgivings started on the drive home. "How well do I know these people?" I asked myself, plagued with doubt. All I could think about was whether the borrowed carseat would fit in the host mom's car the next morning, whether Mia would feel confident to ask to call home if she got scared. Whether the host daddy was trustworthy.
"You're being paranoid," said the calming part of myself.
"No, you're listening to your mother's intuition!" said the wild-eyed other part.
"Your fears aren't real," pressed the calm.
"Sometimes we have real reasons to be afraid!"
I didn't like feeling this way.
My oldest is an independent girl. "Bye, Mommy!" she had said cheerfully, already running off to another room as I left.
When she was a baby, I couldn't leave her at the childcare center at the gym. She would cry for me the entire time, until the workers came to find me on the treadmill.
Tuesday night, while Mia was off stretching her wings, I retreated to a frightened, untrusting part of myself. In the light of morning, the fears slink away and reason returns.