I am so angry today.
Angry at myself.
Angry at another mother.
Yesterday, I got a call from a mom of one of G’s friends from kindergarten. I know this woman, we’ve had play dates together. Our girls have been friends since the first day of school. She asked if G could come over to her house after school to color eggs. After that, they’d go to the movies and to the park. I told her that I’d meet her after school. If G wanted to go, then of course she could go.
When I asked G if she wanted to go, her face lit up and she said a very high pitch “YYYYEESSS!”
I gave the mom $10 for her ticket and a snack and told her to call me when they were home so I could come get my daughter. 5pm I got a phone call.
“Can G spend the night?”
My heart sank. The only people my daughter has spent the night with are my mother and my sister.
“Does she want to?” I asked.
“Well, here, I’ll let you talk to her.”
I asked her if she wanted to. I could hear the excitement in her voice. “Yes, Mommy! Please?”
I didn’t want to say yes. “She’s only 5.” I thought to myself. “And, yes, I know the mom, but I don’t really know the mom.”
My gut was saying “No no no no.” But my daughter was saying “please please please.”
I thought back to when I was little. I was never allowed to spend the night anywhere, unless they were people from the church or my dad could “verify” that they were Christians. I thought about all of the times I was shunned the day after a sleep over. “You can’t sit with us. You weren’t allowed to come to my sleepover.” (True story) I never want my daughter to feel like an outcast the way that I did. I never want hre to miss out on fun times with her friends because of her over-protective mother.
But she’s only five.
Adding to my concern was the fact that the mom is a single mom who lives with her father. I don’t know the father. I only know what she tells me about him. And he sounds really wonderful. But I don’t know him.
All of these things went through my head. And yet, I told her yes, my daughter could spend the night. I told her I would bring her stuff right over.
My husband drove with me over to her house to take G her things.
“Are you okay with this?” I asked him.
“No. I’m not.”
“I’m not either. But she really wants to. She’s so excited and this is the first time she’s been invited to spend the night with a friend. I don’t want to ruin her fun.”
We talked about it. We decided if we continued to feel uneasy, we’d call the mom and make up a lie. I even went so far as to come up with the lie right there in the car. “Something came up. We need to leave early in the morning. We have to come get her.”
I should have just said no.
When we pulled up to the house, G and her friend came running out. They were covered in pink eye shadow, lip gloss and glitter. “Mommy! Did you bring my blankie?” She squeeled.
I pulled her to the side. “You sure you want to stay?”
“Yes!” she repeated as she jumped up and down. Her friend came up, took her by the hand and said “Let’s go finish playing house!” She said.
“Bye Mom!” G shouted as she skipped away with her overnight bag.
We told the mom she could call us AT ANY TIME if my daughter changed her mind. “You can call me at 3am. I don’t care. I’ll come get her.” I said. She assured me everything was going to be fine. I believed her.
But not really.
Me and my husband went to grab a quick dinner, then headed to Target to get some last minute Easter things. I felt a bit more at ease after I had seen how happy she was, but there was still this little ache in my heart. This little… I don’t know what, telling me that I shouldn’t have let her stay. I kept my phone with me, just in case she called. I even turned the volume all of the way up.
The phone never rang.
Around 9:30 we went to pick up the boys from church. I was happy she hadn’t called, even telling myself it was silly to get so worked up about a sleep over. Around 11pm, I checked my phone, JUST IN CASE.
There was a voice mail.
My heart sank.
Around 10:00, I had received a phone call. From The Grandpa.
“G doesn’t want to stay, I’d be happy to bring her home if you can give me your address.”
How did I miss the call? I have no idea.
I called the mom’s cell. No answer.I called the home number. No answer.
“Why the EFF did the grandpa call?” Tony said.
“That’s a good question.” I responded.
“If the mom left my daughter there with the grandpa, I’m going to be SO PISSED.” Tony said.
My heart sank. Would she have done such a thing? Would she have betrayed my trust like that? She never told me she was going to leave. She never asked me if it was okay if her dad watched my daughter.
We couldn’t get a hold of anyone by phone.
“I’m going to get my daughter.” My husband said.
He jumped in the van and headed over there. I stayed home, just in case the grandpa called back. He never called. But Tony did.
“No one is answering the door. Give me their number again.”
10 minutes later, Tony called. “I have my daughter.” He said. “I practically banged the door down, but I got her.”
I could hear her in the background. She was SOBBING.
“She won’t stop crying.” He said. “And she won’t tell me what’s wrong.”
My heart– it was pounding. I allowed my mind to go there. I hated myself in that moment. Why hadn’t I listened to my gut? Why did I give in? Why was I such a bad mother? WHY WAS THAT WOMAN SUCH A HORRIBLE PERSON TO LEAVE MY DAUGHTER LIKE THAT?
He was home within 3 minutes. My daughter was hysterical.
“Please. Take a deep breath. We need to talk.”
She couldn’t calm down. I did everything in my power to help her, but she was so upset. After about 10 minutes, I was able to get her to talk.
“What happened?” I asked. “Did something happen?”
She tried to talk through the tears.
“I was just so scared. I didn’t want to stay there with E’s grandpa. I don’t know him. I was so scared and you didn’t answer the phone and I wanted to come home and…”
She was hysterical again.
“Did he yell at you?” I asked.
“Did he touch you?” I asked.
“No.” she said.
“No one touched you or did anything mean to you?”
“No. Mommy. I just didn’t want to be there. I was scared when E’s mom left.”
E’s mom left.
I’m angry about that. And my husband is angry about that. We entrusted our daughter into her care, not her father’s.
I’m angry with myself too. I’m angry that my poor judgement could have resulted in disaster for my daughter. We were lucky. Nothing bad happened. I mean, it was awful that she was scared, that she didn’t feel safe, that she felt like we had abandoned her (by not answering the phone the first time they called.) But that was something we were able to talk about, something she was able to understand and to heal quickly from.
I feel so lucky.
But I also feel anger. I’m so angry with that mother. But mostly, I’m angry with myself. For not listening to my gut instinct. For saying “yes” when what I really wanted to say was “no.”
(edited to add: I wanted to make it very clear that the grandfather did nothing wrong. As Marinka pointed out, he called us when G told him she didn’t want to stay. My issue is solely with the mother, for leaving my daughter without asking if we, as her parents, were okay with that.)