August 25, 2011 posted by Lindsay Ferrier

Coming Home

Coming Home

The front door slammed and I heard the familiar patter of my seven-year-old daughter’s footsteps as she raced into the kitchen.

“Mommy!” Punky shouted breathlessly. “Sally asked me to have a sleepover at her house tonight! Can I do it? Oh please, Mommy, can I?” Her face shone with a mixture of delight and triumph. Sally, our next-door-neighbor, is just five days younger than Punky. They’ve grown up playing together and lately, sleepovers have become a major topic of discussion.

Sally’s mom and I agreed that letting the two girls spend the night would be the perfect first sleepover experience– If the sleepover-er got scared or homesick, it would be easy to call next door and walk her back home, no matter the hour.

But while both girls have been speculating endlessly about when they’ll have their spend the night party and what they’ll do and how late they’ll stay up and which movies they’ll watch, I wasn’t convinced they were truly ready. Looking at Punky’s hopeful eyes, though, I decided it was a good night to give it a shot.

“Okay, you can go,” I said, with a pang of wistfulness that yet another milestone was occurring right before my eyes. “Let’s get out your sleeping bag and a pair of pajamas and a toothbrush.”

“And a pillow!” Punky sang. “And a stuffed animal!”  I pulled out an overnight bag and we loaded it up with all the gear she’d need for a night at the neighbors. Five minutes later, Punky and I walked next door and I hugged her goodbye.

“If she gets homesick, call me,” I told Sally’s mom, a little too anxiously. “It doesn’t matter how late it is. Just call me. I’ll have the phone by my bed.”

“Will do,” Sally’s mom said, smiling. I went back home, feeling a little bit empty inside.

“I can’t believe Punky’s spending the night out,” I said to my husband. I felt a sudden urge to hurl myself at him, sobbing.

But I resisted.

About 15 minutes later, the phone rang.

“Mommy?” Punky said when I picked up the phone.

“Yes, honey, is everything all right?” I asked.

“Yes, I just missed you a little bit and wanted to talk.”

“Okay, well what are you doing?”

“We just brushed our teeth and put on our pajamas,” she said. “What are you doing?”

“I’m cleaning up the den,” I said.

“What’s Bruiser doing?”

“He’s playing a computer game. He’s about to go to bed,” I told her.

“Oh.” She was silent for a moment.

“Okay, well have a good time,” I said.

“Mommy, wait!” Punky said. She paused. “What are you going to do next?” she asked finally.

“I’m going to put Bruiser to bed, and then I’ll read for a little while and then I’ll go to bed,” I told her.

“Okay, well, bye,” Punky said. “I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too,” I said. We hung up.

“She just wanted to chat,” I told Hubs. He smiled and looked at the clock. It was 9:30.

“I give her until 11,” he said.

As it turned out, he was wrong. Thirty minutes later, the phone rang again.

“Punky’s decided she wants to come home,” Sally’s mom reported, chuckling. “We’ll be over in just a minute.”

I went outside and waited. A few minutes later, Sally’s mom and Punky emerged, carrying Punky’s overnight bag and sleeping roll. I met them in the driveway and walked Punky home.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said. “I just felt kind of lonely and missed you.”  We got inside and I knelt down to her eye level.

“It’s okay that you came back,” I said. “You have your whole life to have sleepovers, and when you’re older, you won’t miss me so much. But Punky, never forget this. You can always come back home– any time you want.” She smiled gratefully and wrapped her arms around my neck.

“Any time you want,” I repeated, hugging her tightly.




  • cheesehead4ever

    That is so sweet.  I’m tearing up right now!  I have two girls and while one has experienced many sleepovers, my youngest (the major Mommy’s girl) isn’t quite old enough yet.  I can foresee the same kind of situation with her!

    • Anonymous

      Just keep the phone by your bed.  ;D

  • rubberbacon

    Awww, that’s a cute story.

  • Dang, now I’m crying. I remember lying in my friend’s bed, my head touching a wall that faced my house, which was right across the street. I took deep breaths wanting to go home, but willing myself to ride it out. I love what you said to her.

    • Anonymous

      I remember that in second and third grades, there were a lot of sleepovers and at least one girl always had to go home in the middle of the night.  😀

  • “You can always come back home– any time you want.” She smiled gratefully and wrapped her arms around my neck.“Any time you want,” I repeated, hugging her tightly.”

    OMG I started bawling when I read the above passage.  Guess I was due for a good cry.

    • Anonymous

      Ha ha. Sorry.  I cried too, if it makes you feel any better. 🙂

  • Kimberly

    This story made me a little teary-eyed.  How sweet!

  • NancyB

    Very sweet! She will have so many more chances and slowly is a good way. She doesn’t want to miss out on what’s going on at home!

    My didn’t allow us to sleep over anyone’s house when we were young. In 8th grade I told her that my sister and I WERE going to my best friend’s sleep over birthday party and we did. I think she didn’t want to reciprocate for anyone else’s kids.

    My son on the other hand would sleep over night at a friends house starting when he was 4 or so if we were going out and they were taking care of him. He’s always been super independent – happy to go, happy to be home.

  • Liz

    This story is just too sweet! 

  • Liz Miller

    I highly recommend “Ira Sleeps Over”, in which Ira goes to sleep over at his friend’s house next door, after dithering all day about whether or not to bring his bear. I think that Punky will really appreciate it.

    • Anonymous

       Great, thanks for the recommendation, Liz!

  • Aww…sweet Punky–and sweet mommy, too!  I tell you, knowing that I could *always* com home made it a lot easier to do just that after I broke up with my live-in boyfriend at 18.  I realize of course that you are YEARS away from this (if it were ever to happen in the first place), but just knowing it’s OK to come home?  Makes all the difference in the world.

    • Anonymous

      Not exactly- I have 18 and 20-year-old stepdaughters, you know…  ;D

      • Duh, of course you do!  Anyway, it’s always good to know the doors (and arms) are always open 🙂

        • Anonymous

          Yes, so long as they come home because they WANT to. When they come home because they have no choice, that’s another story altogether!  ;D

  • so sweet!
    I remember when my 24 y/o did that when she was Punky’s age…and then years later when she asked to come home after moving out into the big, bad, bold adult world.

    • Anonymous

      Awww. Bittersweet. 🙂

      • it is…it was. but although she did come home because she needed to, she was so relieved and glad that she could. she told me some of her friends claimed that their folks would never let them if they were in the same situation. The good news is she did get back up on her own two feet and finally flew the nest to make her dreams come true and build her own nest.

  • Kimberwidmer

    Girl… Kleenex alert! Melted my heart. What a little sweetheart!

  • Awww… so sweet, Lindsay!

  • Andrea

    Add me to the list of people who got teary reading this!    

  • Boo Hoo. Not a good read for the second day back at work from maternity leave. I have all boys, too, so I probably won’t get this experience. You’re lucky. A girl is yours forever…

  • Amandastokely

    Lindsay,you are an amazing mother!!! I love reading your posts. Thank you for this one.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for your comment!  🙂

  • Knewman4

    Bwaaaaa….crying here.  My kids have been doing sleep overs for awhile as part of a parents/date childcare swap, but it’s a good point that they have the rest of their lives to be away from us!  

  • NancyB

    Lovely story – my son was always happy to go, but glad to be home.  Even at 21 and (almost) on his own I welcome him back with a hug and a kiss.

  • Miriam

    Awesome!  I never thought to tell my kids they could always come home when they were little.  But now that they are older – 12 & 15 – we tell them over and over, “We will always come get you.  Anywhere, anytime, no questions asked, no consequences. Call us and we will be on the road in 5 minutes.”  My parents told me the same thing as a teen and I can think of one occasion when it quite possibly saved my life. 

  • Jenna

    ok…This made me cry. You are such a wonderful mother 🙂


  • Perfect response.  I have a tear.

  • Melissa

    I love your stories about your kids. Punky is such a special little lady. A very old soul in a very young girl. 🙂 She seems to see and understand and express things we normally don’t expect from someone her age. But yet, she’s still very much a little girl.

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