After over two and a half years, I finally got up the nerve to leave my baby boy over night. My mom offered to take him for the weekend so that Aaron and I could have a couple days to ourselves before the birth of Gabriel and the insanely busy months of summer (a combination I am still a little nervous about). I understand that it is probably long over due, but honestly I've thought, what's the rush? He is only a baby once, and when he's out grown that title and the sacred bedtime routine that goes with it, I'll happily hand him over to the grandparents as often as they like. Until then, my hesitance will most likely remain.
As the weekend approached I thought of list after list of details and directions I needed to write down for my mom. I figured sticking to routines and familiar foods and activities would make it easier for him not to notice my absence. Well, the weekend snuck up on me, and I barely finished packing his things by the time they were ready to leave, much less wrote the novel I intended. Plus I started to wonder if I was being overly controlling. My mom has raised eight kids after all, she could handle Aiden for a weekend. He was happily distracted by his cousins who had come with my mom and didn't even seem to notice I was not joining them in the car. I didn't want to make a big deal of him leaving, but an ache more intense than any homesickness clung to me as I watched them drive away.
I happily distracted myself that night. My sister and her husband had just arrived back from the Dominican Republic so we made plans to go to dinner. A double date. No babysitter required! It felt freeing, but at the same time it was a hard concept to grasp. I kept thinking I was forgetting something, like one of those bad dreams where you suddenly remember you forgot to feed your baby all week- or that you even had one. I hate those dreams. By the time we were done with dinner and on our way to the Chocolate Lounge for drinks, the dull ache in my stomach had turned into straight nausea. When my mom called me around 10:00 p.m. with a sobbing Aiden crying for me to come to him, I thought I was going to hurl or burst into tears myself. This was supposed to be easy! I thought to myself angrily, recalling all the stories people tell me of how hard it is to leave your child for the first time but how once you do it's "totally worth it". I was not convinced. I struggled to fall asleep that night, but felt comforted by the fact that I would get to sleep in the next morning- with Aaron. That was a rare treat!
4:30 a.m. Bing! My mind was suddenly aware of a painful sensation in my lower abdomen. My first thought was that someone was kicking me and it hurt. Then I realized someone was kicking me. And it did hurt. I really had to pee and the someone who was kicking me (or punching?) was Gabriel- it felt like he was deliberately grinding his heels right into my bladder. I rushed to the bathroom, almost falling over and walking into a wall in the process as my mind and equilibrium tried to keep up with my flight to the toilet. After a few incoherent thoughts of giving Gabriel a serious time-out, I dragged my feet back to bed thinking I was so tired I would have no problem falling back to sleep. Instead I tossed and turned for an hour before finally caving to hunger. Fine, cereal and the book of John it is. I thought to myself, slightly more than peeved not to have a vacation from insomnia. When I still couldn't sleep by 6:45 I decided to wake Aaron. This was our weekend and if I couldn't sleep then we would make the best of it! Luckily my desperate enthusiasm and sleep-deprived eyes were enough to convince Aaron that getting up to the see the sunrise was a good substitute to boring ol' sleep.
As we drove up the parkway we reminisced about our dating days. Although romantic drives on the parkway were common in those days, they always felt just as special as they did that morning. We talked about the past, the present, the future. Allowing ourselves to dream as we watched the orange and purple creep up over the grey mountains. We sat there until our stomachs groaned, then made our way to our favorite breakfast cafe. That's right, Morning Glory, baby! We had plans of going hiking after breakfast, but first had to meet one of Aaron's clients who were going out of town that day and wanted to pay him for a job he had done and make an estimate on another. We had an agreement of absolutely NO work, but who can argue with getting paid? It was actually really nice to see Aaron in his element. I've seen the work he's done, I know he's awesome at his job, but to see him all professional, talking the lingo, coming up with figures, explaining what needed to be done and how he'd do it, and seeing how happy his clients were with the work he had already done... I was impressed to say the least. As my friend Sam would say: "I'm not gonna lie- it was hot."
The rest of the weekend continued to not go as planned. We intended to spend lots of time outdoors in the mountains, eat at all our favorite places, stay up late, and sleep in. Well unfortunately, my body decided after the lack of sleep and constant going of the week before that it was going to collapse on me. Nausea, similar to the night before, hit me again around noon. I continued to feel nauseas, light-headed, dizzy, and out of breath throughout the rest of the afternoon with little relief, although I forced myself to keep going. This was our weekend, damnit! I would not waste it! We spent most of the day in the car as I'd usually find that once we arrived at our destination I did not feel well enough to get out. To top it all, we received a call from Aaron's work partner who had left that morning to pick up a trailer in Charlotte, informing us that his truck had broken down minutes after getting the trailer! So for the rest of the day and into the night Aaron was on and off the phone and computer trying to talk him through the process of fixing the truck and trying to figure out if anyone else could go pick up the trailer. We finally decided it just made more sense for us to drive down there ourselves since we had to go the next day to pick Aiden up anyway. Our romantic "get-away" weekend had unraveled before I even noticed the loose string.
I ended up watching Aiden the next morning while my mom went to church and Aaron ran around trying to find the right sized trailer hitch for his truck. We hung out with family that afternoon, then Aaron spent the last few hours we were there cutting down some big dangerous branches that hung over my parent's driveway. Ok, I know what you're thinking, this sounds awful! I must be fuming, or at least severely disappointed. I think part of me wanted to be, but honestly, we had a lot of fun. I was secretly pretty happy to spend that morning with Aiden after two nights away. Aaron and I had a lot of fun hanging out with my brother and sister (James and Jenteal, for those of your wondering which!) who joined us for a delicious lunch at the Asia Market then took us to a quaint French cafe in downtown Charlotte (or "NoDa" specifically, as I am told it's called). And I loved seeing how insanely happy my mom was to have her tree safe and healthy again. Although I won't say I'll rush to drop Aiden off at anyone's house for a weekend again anytime time soon, it was good to see he could go a couple days without me and survive- and even have fun (besides screaming for me every night). And though the weekend wasn't at all what we had in mind, anytime I felt tempted to complain about that fact, I couldn't help but not. Now that's a first!