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Big Night Out

Last week Jay and I went out a record three times (since Preston was born, not an all-time record, just to be clear) -- we went out one night with Preston, two nights without Preston. It was my birthday on Thursday, so the nanny sat for Preston while Jay took me to a wonderful dinner at Sunda, an amazing sushi restaurant in Chicago. I had only been two times before, when I was knocked up last year. Both times I vowed to return after Preston was born, so I could actually eat the sushi for which the restaurant is critically acclaimed. I even blew-dry my hair for the special occasion! It was a much-needed date night for us, and only the second one we've had since Preston was born almost eight months ago; the first was when Preston was just a week old.

Saturday was great too -- we organized a dinner for 13 of our closest friends at a fun Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood. Preston had plans to spend the night with my brother, sister-in-law and their three kids, who are 10, 8 and 5. They are obsessed with their baby cousin, and were so excited to have a sleepover with him so they could have Preston all to themselves. Jay and I thought it would be a good thing for us, too. We'd have the entire night off to ourselves -- we could stay out late like the old days, go out to a bar or two after dinner, meet up with our single know, Whoop. It. Up.

My mom and I had an appointment with the wedding photographer on Saturday afternoon -- yes, I'm still picking out the photos for our wedding album, a wedding that took place a year and a half ago. After the appointment, my mom was to drive Preston to the 'burbs, where his cousins live. The idea of this plan sounded like a solid one -- we'd even get part of the afternoon to ourselves! We could take naps! Or do nothing! But the minute my mom drove away with Preston in the car, as well as half of his belongings, I completely lost it. My little boo-boo (that's what we call him) -- how could he possibly understand that he was having a sleepover without his mom and dad? Was he going to have a meltdown at bedtime because I wouldn't be there to read "Goodnight Moon" to him, like I have every night for the past four months? Was he going to be able to sleep through the night in a Pack-N-Play, which he's never slept in before? Was he going to resent us for basically abandoning him -- and for what, for our own selfishness of needing a debaucherous night out?

To say I suddenly became overwhelmed with guilt -- for making these dinner plans in the first place -- would be an understatement.

Okay, sure, so Preston's never had a meltdown. Nor has he ever had any trouble sleeping through the night... And though baby experts say that at this age, Preston should be experiencing separation and maybe even stranger anxiety, he's shown no real signs of those yet either -- heck, he flirts with strangers, especially of the attractive female variety.

Jay had a good laugh while I stood there on the sidewalk crying watching my mom drive away with Preston. I tried thinking of any last-minute reasons for calling the whole thing off, without sounding like a crazy, neurotic new mom.

But I realize there's really no way not to sound like a neurotic new mom, especially when you're acting like a neurotic new mom.

An hour later, when I should've been napping, I sat in bed downloading new pictures of Preston onto my computer. When I was done, I found myself staring off into space, trying to visualize what was going on at my brother's house. Were they having fun? Well, I knew they were going to have fun...but what were they doing? And were they having more fun than we have? I was certain Preston was going to eventually realize that Jay and I weren't there. And even if he did fall asleep easily, he'd surely wake up in the middle of the night, crying for his mommy and daddy, needing to be soothed in a way only we would know how.

But that never happened. In fact, he slept from 9 p.m. straight through to 8 a.m. (he usually wakes up at 7 a.m.). He barely even cried when he went to sleep, I was told. And in the morning when we came to get him, he seemed rather unfazed. Granted, he's the most adaptable and laid-back baby, but this was his first sleepover!

It's probably safe to say I shed more tears about his sleepover than he did....

I chalk up my own separation anxiety to the fact that I don't get as much time with him as I would like during the week -- you know, it's the whole working mom thing -- so when the weekend comes it takes a lot for us to do anything that doesn't include Preston. That's why we don't go out much anymore, we don't see our friends unless we have a play date that includes the kids, and we've completely blown off any semblance of a social life.

That said, Saturday night was a blast -- getting to see our friends, sans babies, was such a treat. Despite missing Preston, it was one of the best nights I've had in a very long time.

How often do you go out with your friends? Does leaving your baby with a sitter, or overnight with family, ever get easier? Jay and I are thinking about going away for a long weekend with my best friend and her husband, in a month or two, but I'm not sure if I can handle leaving Preston with my parents for an entire weekend, even though I could really use a vacation... Have you ever experienced separation anxiety?

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