Growing Up

J.J. will be 2 and 1/2 on November 24th and both my husband and I have not gone away overnight together -- not even once! It's totally my fault. Thinking back, from night one, I've always had an excuse as to why I couldn't spend a night away from J.J. In the first few sleepless, C-section-agonizing days home, I refused my mom's offers for nighttime help, insisting the only way I'd learn how to care for a newborn was to do it myself. The truth is, I know I wouldn't have slept because I'd be up wondering if he was OK.

Once J.J. slept through the night -- lucky us, starting at about two and a half months -- that was our chance to plan an overnight getaway. After all, whomever stayed with J.J. would just have to hang around in the offchance he woke up during the night. But it wasn't even a thought at that point. I reasoned that if we broke our routine, we'd mess up his perfect bedtime ritual. Really, I just couldn't bare the thought of not being there for him. It's bad enough I was already dealing with the guilt of going back to work part-time. What kind of a mother would I be if I acted like some childless woman, following my every whim?

Don't get me wrong. I relished (and still do!) those daytime moments out of the house when someone would offer to watch him for a couple of hours, whether I'd get my nails done or just wander around CVS without a 20-pound stroller, diaper bag, and fussy baby. But nighttime is a whole different story. That's always been my job, and I pride myself in never having taken a personal day.

Then came the dark ages... when J.J. the Conquerer invaded our bed. Now I couldn't possibly leave him with anyone even though there were many nights that I wanted nothing more. After all, he was such a light sleeper, awaking at the slightest noise or movement. And if he called for me and I wasn't there, he'd go into a frenzy. I couldn't put anyone throught that.

Once the dark ages ended and a new age -- a big boy bed renaissance, if you will -- came to pass, peaceful nights returned. Well, mostly, except for the occasional inexplicable crying in the middle of the night. It happened just last night, in fact. We're not sure what causes J.J. to wake up screaming -- a bad dream, a headache, night terrors, the last of those molars coming in? It's anyone's guess, but lying awake last night, I realized that I was coming down with something: a severe case of separation anxiety. Yes, mommies, get it, too.

My case of it stems from what's approaching. You see, this Friday my husband and I will be spending our first night away from J.J. to celebrate my upcoming 30th birthday. The plans have been in motion for weeks now. He'll be sleeping at his grandma's house. I'm bringing his sleeping buddy, Curious George, and his favorite bedtime CD. And we'll really only be gone 24 hours or so, since we plan to head back on Saturday afternoon (can you hear me rationalizing?). Plus he loves spending time with his grandma and is used to taking naps there so there's nothing to worry about...right?

Nothing except of course, that he'll have one of his crying fits, calling for mommy and I'll be 100 miles away partying in Atlantic City, too drunk (hopefully) to drive home. Will all my fun be worth the pathetic look on his face if ever I try to leave him again? Or worse -- he'll curl up on his pillow, his hand on George's head, and sleep the whole night through without asking for me once. That'll mean my little boy's growing up. And I guess that means it's time this almost-30 year old does, too.


Only 54 More Shopping Days 'Til Christmas...

I am what most would call punctual. An early bird by no means, but certainly never late. And in my deadline-driven life, I'm always more effective when an impending due date is closing in, rather than far off in the distance. I live by the clock and calendar in my capacity as a writer/editor, and can't afford to miss a beat when it comes to fulfilling my little guy's daily demands. In short, (caution: literary reference ahead), a particular line of poetry rings very true in my daily life:

"While at my back I always hear, Time's winged chariot, hurrying near..."

Perhaps that why I'm rebelling against this year's sense of urgency in regards to Christmas shopping season. I hit a toy store this past weekend to pick up some last minute Halloween goodies and I could barely navigate my shopping cart without bumping into some stressed-out parent with a shopping list and a cell phone, trying to find out if little Molly would rather have Bella Dancerella or Polly Pockets under the tree. And although it's against my policy to become one of those parents, I actually thought it would be a good idea to pick up a Christmas outfit for my son so I can start trying to snap the perfect holiday card photo. Guess what? All the nice outfits are SOLD OUT... IN OCTOBER! Are we as a consumer society losing our collective minds?

As much as I've tried to resist the Great Christmas Push of 2006, I can't help but feeling like I've already blew my shot at this year's hottest toys, missed the best sales, and now, as punishment, have to stand in out-the-door lines with the rest of the "last-minute shoppers." Only 54 more shopping days 'til Christmas... It might as well be midnight on Christmas Eve, and the last store in town is about to close.

It used to be so nice to space out my shopping during the month of December -- ya know, after Thanksgiving -- enjoy the holiday rush, and find the perfect gift for a loved one. (That was also back when every gift wasn't mandated to me from a wishlist, but I'll save that for another vent session.) Even if I was still shopping the weekend before the holiday, I was always completely done and wrapped with a day or two to spare. But in 2006, I've already missed the boat. My son may have to wear pastel spring colors in his holiday photo, and my gift recipients will have to settle for gift cards or cheesy I.O.U. printouts of items that are on backorder.

Speaking of which, I've gotta go. If I hurry, I can get in my pre-order for the 2007 Tickle Me Elmo Extreme Anniversary Edition Volume II.