THE FIRST SLEEPOVER
(picture is the OCD prep of bottles I made for my parents)
Before I had Avi, I had really hoped to be the kind of mom who still had interests and activities outside of parenting. I wanted to feel ok traveling without my baby or hiring a babysitter for an evening. Avi was 6 weeks old the first time I left him with someone else. It was with Jared, for 2 hours, and I went to Carters to buy Avi fall clothes. It felt liberating and strange and a little sad. I remember specifically changing into a shirt that I wouldn't work for breastfeed and bringing my smallest purse.
The first time I left Avi overnight was for business travel when he was 6 months old. I was gone for 5 nights and Avi stayed at home with Jared and my mother-in-law. It again felt liberating and strange and sad. I cried when I kissed him goodnight before leaving. I cried when I got to the airport. I wasn't just away from my baby; I was on a different continent. I was thousands of miles away. I missed him terribly, but I had no parental responsibilities. I felt like I had gone back in time.
This past weekend, Avi had his first sleepover. His first night without either of his parents. He stayed with my parents - his Grammy and Grandpa - about 40 minutes from us. Jared and I went out for dinner with friends. We dropped him off and our goodbye lasted almost an hour. We kept remembering one last thing that we NEEDED to tell my parents. I texted the whole way home - "Send pictures!" "Is he eating?" "Is he asleep yet?" "He's fine," my dad texted back, "relax and have fun." Easier said than done. I was a ball of nerves as we drove to the restaurant. It was a cool Jersey City Mexican place and when we walked in, I just felt old. It was 34 degrees outside but the place was filled with 20-somethings in tank tops. I was in a sweater. I felt like you could see the bags under my eyes from space. I started having second thoughts about leaving my little guy. Did I even belong here anymore?
But when we sat down at our table, something miraculous happened. The waitress handed me a drink menu and I realized - there was no baby at my house. No one would wake me up with a nightmare in the middle of the night. No one would wake me ready to play at 6:00am. I ordered a 'taster' which consisted of 3 different cocktails - a watermelon margarita, a white sangria, and a vodka drink. I started to relax. I even started having fun. I stopped caring that I was 10-15 years older than most of the people in the restaurant. And I gave myself permission to stop worrying about Avi. He was safe and taken care of and I was allowed to have a good time without him. It didn't make me a bad mom. Like during my business trip, I felt like I had gone back in time. And it felt great. We even went to a bar after dinner and I had a beer.
When we got home, I walked around the house saying, "There's no baby here!" We stayed up watching tv until 1am. I pumped milk which is currently in the fridge and labeled 'drunk milk.' I'll use it for a milk bath or ration out tiny amounts into his bottles over the week. I still had to wake up at 6:30am to pump, but I went back to sleep. Jared and I woke up for the day at the glorious hour of 11am.
When my parents dropped Avi off that afternoon, I had tears in my eyes as a squeezed him. I covered him with kisses and wouldn't let him go the rest of the day. As amazing as it felt to be free for one night, it felt even better to be reunited. And the fact that both of these truths can reside inside of me is a comfort. I can be a mama who won't let go of her baby and one who sometimes does. A mama that prefers to stay home with her husband and son on a Saturday night and one who also loves to go out and have a drink. I am both of these mothers.