We spent our first night away from our little man last weekend, and it appeared to be much harder on the parents than the child.
Back in early summer, we purchased tickets to a show at the Hippodrome in Baltimore, figuring by the time our baby was five months old we would be comfortable spending a night away and maybe even desire some time to ourselves. Well, when last Friday arrived, there were lots of mixed emotions. As a matter of fact, if we had not purchased our tickets three months ago and made hotel and dinner reservations weeks ago, the getaway may have never happened.
In the days leading up to the trip, my wife and I were pathetic and the worst part of it was we knew it and could do nothing about it. As we drove our baby to his sleepover at his grandparents, it felt like we were leaving behind a piece of ourselves and not to mention half of our house, since all his “stuff” came along to make sure he was entertained. We figured if we brought all his favorite things he would not miss us. Yes, I know, pretty pathetic.
It was a strange feeling being away from him for the first time. We were constantly thinking (and worrying) about him. Our curiosity got the best of us on at least seven occasions over 30 hours, resulting in “check in” phone calls. It was not a matter of thinking he was unsafe, in harm’s way or anything like that. It was all about a couple of addicts going through withdrawal and the subsequent feelings of uncertainty and unfamiliarity.
Logic would dictate that we rested well that night without our baby. However, things do not always go the route of common sense with parenthood. We slept as we always do – intermittingly. We often woke up in the middle of the night, seeking out the video monitor on the nightstand to check on the baby. There was no monitor, just a Holiday Inn notepad and pen. We were up at our normal time (6ish) with no baby to feed, hold or play with. We had spare time, a concept foreign to us.
It was strange going anywhere without the baby in tow. It felt so unusual. My wife actually sat in the front seat of the vehicle rather than next to the car seat in the back, confirming I am not hired help. There was no diaper bag to pack, no heavy car seat to carry around, no bottles to clean, no formula to bring along, no toys to pack, no pacifiers to retrieve and no moods to keep in check. There was no customer service and it was bizarre. Strangest thing was we missed all of it.
There we were at a four-star restaurant in downtown Baltimore, eating rissoto and foie gras, not exactly dishes we indulge in around our house, talking about our son and his cute attempts to blow raspberries, how he sticks four fingers in his mouth at one time, likes to yank out handfuls of hair, is almost rolling over by himself and his ability to pull his toes to his nose.
Although we missed him terribly and talked about him too much, we did enjoy the time on our own. However, the one-day trip was just enough for these new parents. The 150-minute drive home from Baltimore was a grueling test of patience. We could not wait to get our hands on him and see whether he had grown or changed (pathetic). Of course, he really had not, but what was interesting was he developed the ability to successful blow a raspberry while we were gone for that short amount of time. Before we left, he was really just spitting up on himself and had not mastered it.
A little background, I am a sucker for the giggle or smile and will resort to any means necessary to get either. If I blow a raspberry or two, that usually does the trick. Apparently, now that it’s easy for him, I have created a little monster because he’s now constantly doing it and subsequently drooling all over the place. It’s cute as can be but equally messy. It seems he has not gotten the hang of keeping the saliva inside his mouth, but we don’t mind because it’s essentially the first thing we taught him.
Once we got home and settled, it was interesting to reflect on the time away and the strange feelings experienced. Besides the obvious corny stuff already touched on in this column in weeks past, it was about not wanting to miss anything, even the most insignificant. It was being unaware of what’s happening with him. We went cold turkey. It was that drastic cut-off after having nearly all aspects of life dictated non-stop by the little one. To go without is what it must be like to go through serious withdrawal. I imagine the next time will be easier and the time after that maybe even painless. Other parents say soon enough you will be going away for a week with no problem. Soon after, it will be 10 days and then two weeks, they say. I find that hard to believe at this point, but time will tell. In the meantime, it’s back to the experiences of parenthood.
On that first morning back, I learned a lesson about raspberries from Beckett. One of my favorite things since he was born has been to lay on the floor with him on my stomach. It serves as a little “tummy time” for him and a little relaxation for me. It seems during one of our mock airplane sessions he decided he wanted to blow some raspberries. After a few good ones and some belly giggles, it seems the motion got the best of him and he spit up parts of his most recent bottle (two hours ago). To make matters worse, we were angled just perfectly and my mouth was open. You get the picture. It was neither pretty nor appetizing, but it was just fine by me, at least we were home.