Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Babies and Bars

The year was 2007.  The day was March 17.  The party started at our 650 square foot studio apartment in Murray Hill.  After a few hours of the kind of morning drinking only appropriate on St. Patrick's Day, we moved to our neighborhood pub, Third and Long.  UnPlain led a parade of revelers into the bar, probably playing "air" bagpipes and in the middle of the crowd spotted the most adorable, cuddly, snuggly, six-month old baby.  Yes, six-month old baby.  Wah?

True story.  I put down my imaginary bagpipe and marched directly up to the drop dead gorgeous twenty-something mother of the drop dead gorgeous zero-something baby, held out my arms and yelled, "Can I hold him?!"  I surmise it must've sounded more like "BlahBlahSLUR-BOLD-EM" considering how many mimosas I'd had that day.    To my surprise, the mother-of-the-year candidate in front of me handed over Little Mr. Adorable almost instantly.  I S-H-I-T you not and have a large number of eye witnesses who can validate this story.  Not only did she hand him over, I carried this baby on my hip, with a drink in the other hand for a good 10 - 15 minutes, dancing, laughing and playing peek-a-beer.  It was only when she whipped out her supermodel perfect boob in the middle of a crowded pub, on St. Patrick's Day to breastfeed him that I handed him back over.  Behind me, T and all the others tried to pick their jaws up off the floor.

At 27 years old, with the ring not quite on my finger yet, I passingly judged this woman who appeared to be close in age to me.  For days my friends and I remarked about the fact that this new(ish) mother had her baby in a crowded bar, handed over her baby to someone who had clearly imbibed a few cocktails and then proceeded to breastfeed her baby after probably having a a few cocktails herself.  We judged, we made jokes, we expressed disbelief.

What I did not feel at the time, was the heart heaviness that I feel now when I think back to that experience. As the mother of a precious little man who rules my world in the most wonderful way, it physically pains me to remember the disregard with which this woman treated that tiny someone who completely depended on her for the most basic of needs.  Perhaps this sounds a bit dramatic (have you met me?), but it hits me in a way now that it didn't back then.

Then yesterday, when a friend posted on Facebook this debate, "Are Modern Parents Self-Absorbed" from it brought me back to St. Patricks Day 2007 and got me thinking about UnPlain, T and Baby P in 2012.  When you have a baby, does your life stop?  Do you give up the pre-baby activities you considered fun?  Or, do you bring baby along for the ride?  For me, I think we meet somewhere in the middle.  Life does not stop, it changes.  Fun is still to be had, timing is simply trickier (and more expensive).  And baby comes along for the ride sometimes, when it's appropriate.

P has come along with T and I to a day time wine tasting event, but Momma UnPlain didn't get to taste all that much. Does P come out to dinner with us?  Absolutely, but we go early, we order fast and if P's not cooperating we get our food to go.  I believe it's my job (and my pleasure) to behave responsibly.  I  do what's best for my child and do my best to be considerate of others.  On the other hand, it's unfair of you express your annoyance just because I have a stroller or because my baby is still learning to control the volume of his hearty, wonderful laugh. Do you also think that my 90 year old grandparent in a wheelchair who yells because he can't hear should be kept out of your favorite dining establishment as well? I'm sorry, is Grandpa ruining your meal?

The bottom line is you're not going to see my baby at a club or lounge and you're not going to see my baby watching your favorite band at your favorite bar at 9pm.  You probably won't see me either because I'm tired and I'll be in bed.  However, you may see my baby at that family friendly biergarten on a crisp fall afternoon and we, the entire family UnPlain, have every right to be there whether you like it or not.

Monday, August 27, 2012


A while back I wrote about a "first date" that T and I went on with another couple.  No, I'm not talking about a Burning Man type of first date with another couple, I'm talking about a "hey, I like the way you guys roll, let's get into a bottle of wine and maybe have a dance off later" type of first couple date. Who knew that years later I'd still find myself standing idly by chatting with L, while our then-boyfriends, now-husbands hit the floor for yet another impromptu dance-off after what would appear to be a mature, adult dinner?  With this particular couple, it was love at first pop-n-lock and they remain two of my most favorite people on the planet to this day.

Three and a half years later I find myself "dating" again.  This time, I'm Play Dating.As in,  "hey, your kid is the same age as my kid, why not get them together and hope we like each other at least a little."  It sounds simple, but anyone who knows women knows that we mate for life.  Our friends mean the world to us.  We talk on the phone.  When we hang up the phone, we text each other.  After we text each other we post on each other's Facebook walls.  Then before our husband, boyfriend or roomate can roll his eyes and say, "haven't you had enough?" we tell him about the hilarious thing that our best friend just told / texted / facebooked us.  And not to let the cat out of the bag, but those same husbands, boyfriends or roomates would be none-to-pleased to learn that we share, in excruciating detail, pretty much everything with those girlfriends in our inner circle.

My personal core group of girlfriends, aka: my besties, consists of two single ladies who I categorize by danger levels similar to the terrorist threat color system, one not-so-single lady for whom I look forward to one day playing Maid of Honor for, and one really not-so-single lady who just popped out her second child in two years.  All of these girls know me for who I am including the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.  None of these girls live within 45 minutes of me.

What I learned shortly after 27 hours of labor, 3.5 hours of pushing and three months of colic is that moms need other moms and we need them close by.  Moms need other moms who can drop what they're doing and drag their yoga-pants-wearing asses across the street for a quick sanity check, coffee break, or to answer the question, "how the hell did you get your baby to stop chewing the side of his crib?"  Bring on the play dates!

P, like most one-year-olds isn't particularly choosey about who he plays with.  If you touch his toy, he will hit you.  If you touch your toy that he's playing with, he will hit you.  If you do none of the above, he probably won't hit you.  That leaves the rest up to me.  Luckily I had met a great group of ladies in the prenatal yoga class I attended religiously leading up to P's birth.  Our babies are all around the same age, our sciatic nerves are back in tact and almost too-easily, our parenting style is on the same wavelength.  After giving up a three to four hour daily commute, I was finally able to actually hang out with them.  How fortunate was I to learn that we also share other things in common, like the belief that it's acceptable to have a beer with lunch, a little Baby Einstein never killed anyone, and organic chicken nuggets are a godsend.

I thought to myself, "who knew it'd be this easy to meet awesome people with kids the same age so close to home?" They must be all over right?  So I hit the baby-circuit hard, branched out and quickly learned that I was WRONG.  Not all other mom's out there think like me.  I've met tiger moms, helicopter moms and know-it-all moms who prefer to preach rather than a give and take of advice.  Had I just simply been so lucky as to find a group of like-minded, fun-as-hell mommas on the first shot, before P was even born? Um, holy crap, I had.

I'm not sure whom I'm more grateful to.  P for giving me the opportunity to meet such cool people right here in my neighborhood or these ladies for their hoards of GOOD advice, hilarious stories and willingness to turn circle time into happy hour at the drop of a hat.  Either way, I consider myself incredibly lucky and am thrilled to be reaping just another benefit of giving up corporate america for paci's, poopies and the responsibility of teaching my son that while it's OK for right now, he's going to eventually have to learn to let go of his penis.  Good thing I have a small army of new friends to help me out with that one.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Working Girl

When I bid sayanara to my nine-to-five just one short month ago to stay at home with my darling little P, the only "work" I envisioned myself doing involved werking it.  As in werking six-inch wedges on play dates (because stilettos would be totally inappropriate).  Or werking my best step-touch at Mommy and Me music class.

Deadlines, conference calls and phrases like "circle back," "ping me", and "the net-net" are a thing of the past.  Or they were supposed to be, but the truth is this:  I. Like. Money.  I think most of us do.  UnPlain has a penchant for shopping, enjoys a good car service pick up, and likes to buy good wine (or large quantities of decent wine).  The simple life has never been for me and while I'm proud to report that I am one-sixth into my personal goal of not purchasing a single item of clothing for six months and, I wouldn't balk at the opportunity to purchase a new bag, pair of shoes, or even a bra for that matter.

Additionally, I think most moms out there would agree that werking it with a toddler ain't that easy.  Recently, on a particularly inspired day I channeled my best Betty Draper and threw on a pair of high-waisted, side-zip  cigarette pants with a lovely white collared shirt.  I accessorized myself perfectly, threw a diaper and wipes into my handbag and headed off for my day of visits with P.  Hours later, back at home I sat on my kitchen floor in my chicer-than-though mommy gear with sweat-stained pits and yogurt all over my once pristinely pressed pants.

Not only is werking it with a toddler not easy, it doesn't pay the bills, so when approached by a former employer to take on a two-and-a-half month freelance project, I jumped at the opportunity to earn some dough and use my creativity for something that doesn't involve crayons.   Before I could say "conference call" I found myself ignoring P to create a spreadsheet, hiring a nanny and dialing into a daily team meeting.  Before I could say "conference call" I found myself fighting off the pangs of guilt and sadness that come with missing precious moments with P.

Today marks one week since I've been fortunate enough to land a two-and-a-half month gig, working from home, doing something I really enjoy.  While what I'm doing is fun, challenging and allows me to have big girl conversations it somehow pales in comparison to the satisfaction I feel after a day of playdates, errands and cooking.  I've spent years working crazy hours, giving 1000%, traveling around the country and taking extraordinary pride in my achievements as an event producer. Now, 10 years since beginning my career, I can honestly say my favorite to answer the question, "What do you do?" is "I'm a stay-at-hom-mom."

In the meantime, going back to guilt and back to the grind for two-and-a-half months, is a fabulous reminder that  I can work it and werk it.  For a short time anyway....  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Party Girl

"Hey Jane! Our parties used to look a lot different right?," shouted a friend from across the room.

I laughed as I sat there cross-legged on the floor, with a Corona Light in my hand fending off an unwelcome hair pull or involuntarily nose-picking courtesy of any one of the 5 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years old who had me surrounded.

The friend was the birthday girl, E's father.  The party was the second first birthday party that P, T and I attended this past weekend.  The beer was a far cry from the Kir Royale or Red Bull Vodka that I used to enjoy when hanging out with my husband, the birthday girl E's parents (who used to be known by their first names) and any number of our other friends on a given night out in Manhattan where we all used to live.

I mulled over topics like coxsakie (google it),  teething and music class with the other suburban, NJ mom's at the party.  I wore shorts from old navy and a checkered button down.  I finally heaved myself up off the floor, looked at T and said, "your turn."  As in, it's your turn to entertain the baby and make sure he doesn't injure himself or smack another child.   Folks, it appears I've gone from sexy twenty-something girlfriend who suggests the next fun activity to thirty-something wife who orders the next item on the to-do list.

In the land before children, a typical Sunday afternoon involved nothing remotely close to Disney characters and birthday cake.  And that's because a typical Saturday night involved wearing something scandalous, going somewhere fabulous, and waking up in that same scandalous outfit, with a french fry in your bed and a bad case of the horrors (aka: the what-did-I-do-last-nights?).  The only food I wake up next to these days are half-petrified Cheerios courtesy of P (who hides them EVERYWHERE).

I was always particularly fond of "the morning after," when over coffee and brunch we would all sit around and crack up about whatever ridiculous thing we said to a bouncer the night before.  The days when the "morning" after meant some time after noon when we all woke up.

Do I miss those days?

I certainly don't miss the unfortunate middle-of-the-night heart pounding that comes with three Red Bull Vodkas or the regret of devouring a pound of roast beef at 4am (hey, it's protein).  I certainly do miss the scandalous outfits, the devil-may-care attitude and the non-stop energy that we all seemed to have.  Fortunately for me, I don't have to miss the laughs.  Although the subject matter has gone from boozy mishaps to poopy diapers, the friends have stayed the same so the laughs are always there.

While I'm pretty sure I may never find myself in the position of having post-work cocktails turn into a 6 AM visit to the Korean Barbecue, I'm guessing I have a few wild nights hiding in my back pocket.  Until they come around, I'm quite content with a nine PM bed time (for me) and a six AM wake-up call from P because these days I laugh just as hard, I love even more and my appreciation of it all is that much greater.

So when I post that annoying Facebook parent post about P taking his first steps today (he did!), I ask those of you who don't care (which means most of you) to humor me.  It's certainly not the most entertaining post, nor does it live up to your scoring the best table at Beauty and Essex, but it's what I've got and I love it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Modest Life

I've never really been accused of being a "lady."  While I can't quite remember the first time I let one rip in front of T (something my grandmother claims to have never done in front of my grandfather), I can say with 100% percent confidence that it was long before we were engaged or even living together.  When it comes to UnPlain, what you see is what you get and T knew he was getting a Broad to Lady ratio somewhere in the 80/20 range.

With that said, there have always been some lines drawn in the sand.  Sure, burps, "fuffies" and nose-picking are well-charted territory in our home (and car for that matter), but we have drawn lines in the sand.  The door stays closed for number 2, I shave my legs in private and I do my best to avoid subjecting T to the never-cute task of having to run to the store for tampons.  After all, there's something to be said for even an extraordinarily little bit of mystery.  

There were a few other less-than-ladylike practices that I shielded my wonderful husband from, but then in walked pregnancy, childbirth and now a toddler.  Goodbye modesty, hello feeble attempt at behaving in a manner that's more human than animal.  It was probably sometime around the moment the doctor yelled, "get down here you have to see this!" to my husband who was under implicit instructions to stay above-the-waist that the door on modesty and mystery was slammed shut.  Now, with a one-year-old who possesses a level of curiosity that has lead us to nickname him "Nosy Rosy" not only is that door closed, it is dead-bolted.

Prior to having a child of my own, I lamented right here on Unplain about the conundrum of what the proper protocol for using the bathroom when charged with the care of a toddler is.  Now, as a mother to the most curious little boy of my own, I have the answer and it's not pretty.  I long for the day when I will once again use the bathroom alone, with the door, dare-I-dream-it, closed.  Alas, a little privacy is not mine to be had.  For now, a trip to the bathroom means a frantic attempt to urinate before P can pull all of the toilet paper off of the roll, grab the skeevy toilet bowl brush with his pristine little hands or fight his way to the toilet water before I can get it flushed and covered. 

Perhaps when I'm done having children and they are old enough to be left to their own devices, I might again enjoy the simple pleasure of making a trip to the loo without an audience.  I may even turn back the clock on time and return to the once-fleeting days of when I used to spare T, my family and the guy in the car next to me the wrath of my bodily functions and behave like a lady.  Maybe one day, but probably not, and until then I think I'll enjoy this free pass to burp the alphabet loud and proud to an audience, however unwilling that audience may be.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

My kid is chubby.  My kid is a ginger.  Girls make my kid cry.

If things continue this way, middle school is going to be rough.   Truth be told,  P comes from a gene pool that includes a tendency to be overweight and have frizzy hair, bad vision, pale skin, moles and an abundance of body hair.  To my darling son, your father and I apologize in advance.

The good news is, the same collective of traits also includes the ability to overcome the fat gene,  hair that miraculously turned straight and shiny, skin that will get golden if enough sunscreen is used, pretty eyes, warm smiles, great senses of humor and big hearts.  Sorry kid, you're stuck with the moles, the body hair and you'll probably be in glasses by the time you're three (hey, neither of us ever had braces.)

As a frizzy-haired, overweight teenager I placed extraordinary focus on these, my shortcomings and I often wondered if my parents did the same. When my mother took me prom dress shopping was she, a size two, horrified that she was buying her 16-year-old daughter a size 12 dress?  At 17, when a boy with a car came to pick me up for a date, did my father wonder what any teenage boy wanted to do with a chubby girl who had a tendency to break out pretty badly once a month?  I have a feeling these thoughts never crossed their minds and if they did, I never knew.

I could argue that they were just being kind, but to this day when my parents look back at my teenage years the words they use to describe me are funny, wild, smart, a "handful."  Never once have they used the words fat or awkward or made fun of the ill-fitting clothes I tried to wear because the skinny girls were wearing them.  Sometimes I even get annoyed that they don't mention more often how chubby I was because I feel like they might not notice how I lost 80 pounds in my early twenties.  How I went from being a girl so insecure that I would do anything to avoid being called fat to a woman so confident that I don't even try on clothes before I buy them.

Now that I have a son of my own, I realize that a parent sees her child differently from how that child sees himself.  Because as parents, we see the whole picture.  Yes, if you break down P into tiny little fragments, he is chubby, he is ginger and girls do make him cry.  But put him all together and he is delicious.  He has giant eyes that actually glisten when he smiles.  The only thing better than his big smile is his even bigger laugh.  He is a brilliant dancer and even though girls his age make him cry, he gives Mommy, Daddy and his stuffed animals the sweetest hugs you can imagine.

As parents, we don't see the tiny pieces of our children.  We don't focus on the shortcomings that they will one day hone in on so closely.  We only see the total package.  The adorable, the hilarious, the smart and the sweet.  As parents, it's now our job to take our fat-necked, awkward little bulldozers and remind them that these things don't define them.  It is now our job to show them what we see and remind them that we see who they really are.

It's a difficult job, but I am reminded that even if we don't 100% succeed in instilling blissful ignorance in our children, we can do enough to instill the kind of confidence it takes to know that no matter what "flaws" they find in themselves, the total package is far greater than the sum of those less-than-perfect-parts.  It is also our job to throw in a good, swift, kick in the ass if and when our children get so full of themselves that they don't behave how a good, kind person should,  but that comes later.

For me, it took some time, but how lucky am I that I now finally see myself the way my parents do? Beautiful.  Smart.  Funny.  Good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shake What Your Momma Gave You

Every visit to see family and friends brings with it questions and comments about who P looks like.  He has Daddy's ears and smile, Mommy's eyes and round face and he somehow looks just like his cousins too.  A visit to my parents recently prompted my father to say, "That kid is all Reiffe" while a barbecue with T's family, prompted his cousin to proclaim that P looks just like me.

I can't even begin to count how many hours of conversation have revolved around what P looks like, but these days I'm more interested in his personality.  Surprisingly to me, at just 13 months old, it's out in full force and I'm discovering that in addition to having Mommy's eyes, he has Mommy's temper.  And in addition to having Daddy's smile, he has Daddy's flair for the dramatic (ok fine, Mommy has that too).

Today was the kind of day where I got to experience and appreciate P for who he is and who he's becoming at the ripe old age of one.  Today was what I call a "house day".  One of those days where the only things on our schedule are naps, housework, errands and meals.   One of those days where I get to learn a lot about my son.  And today I learned this:  My son wakes up in a bad mood.  My son throws a mean tantrum.  My son thinks burps are really funny.  And so do I - to all three.

After two out of three naps today, P woke up in a foul mood.  Crabby, cranky, whatever you want to call it, he's kind of a "bitch" when he wakes up and for some reason, each and every time I'm perplexed.  "What's the matter, Pookie?" I say over and over.  I incessantly sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider, play Peek-a-Boo and shove stuffed bears and puppies in his face to try to make him smile because I just can't seem to figure out what could possibly be wrong.  All the while he pounds his fists, whines, cries and remains completely disinterested in any of my efforts to make him laugh, smile or simply be even the slightest bit pleasant.

Perhaps if I took a moment to stop and think, I'd remember that I know someone else who is "kind of a bitch" when she wakes up.  Someone named UnPlain.  I also know someone else who despite waking up next to me for the past seven or so years years continues to be perplexed and can't seem to figure out what's wrong.  Someone named T, who incessantly talks to me, asks questions and tries to hug me during the 20-30 minutes between the moment I wake up and the moment I become a human being.  It doesn't stop there.

P's foul mood combined with my annoying efforts to make him feel otherwise generally seems to send him flailing into a full-fledged temper tantrum.  This is another area where I'm somewhat of an expert.  Amongst other things, a door, a wall and a really expensive pair of eyeglasses have fallen victim to my "Italian Attitude" over the years.  Today, I watched as P chose to take his rage out in a similar manner by body slamming Elmo into the ground, giving my arm an unpleasant nip and giving the dinner I so nicely prepared for him multiple five-finger slaps in between cries.

Maybe years of watching T stay annoyingly calm during my most stressful moments are what now keep me annoyingly calm while P does the only things he knows how to do to express his anger.  Whatever the reason, I manage to calmly eat my dinner while P anything but calmly tries to massacre his.    While I don't particularly enjoy watching my 13 month old act like a "total baby" for a full hour, a small part of me is proud of his persistence and stick-to-itiveness.  A very small part.

After he finally calmed down and happily ate the lovely meal that he'd spent the previous 45 minutes violently smushing, P paid his compliments to the chef with a loud, hearty belch.  Always the mature adult, I did what I do anytime someone I know let's it rip; I laughed.  Immediately, P began laughing along with with me and for a few minutes we acted like a couple of twelve year olds burping the alphabet for the first time and cracking up the whole way.

It was in that moment, in between laughs, it became clear to me that regardless of whose physical features his most resemble, he and I are two peas in a pod. All I can say is good luck T.  You're going to need it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

What Did You Do Today?

What did you do today?

Today, I picked up a small nugget of poop (yes, poop) with my bare hands.  Why?  Because it went rogue and it was solid enough to pick up and throw away.  I also got nailed in the head with a chicken nugget, smacked in the face with a impossibly strong and deceivingly tiny hand and I attempted to firmly say "NO" while trying not to laugh as P smeared avocado all over basically everything.  Then, at 12:30pm I sent my husband an email that said "We really need to sit down, talk and sort out our life" which, I'm guessing, is probably the last email any man, in the history of earth, wants to receive from his wife at 12:30pm on Friday.  He's thinking about a beer; he's thinking about coming home and watching the Olympics and he's thinking about being done with work for two days.  And now his wife wants to "talk" and "sort out life."

The first three weeks of being a stay at home mom have been extraordinarily blissful for my little family.  Dinner is on the table every night, I learned how to give myself a mani-pedi and I told T the other day that I "enjoyed" cleaning the floors...because I actually did.  He loves having me home and I've been relishing in my new role as Nanny, Cleaning Lady, Nail Tech and Cook.  Fortunately for both of us, giving up my $600/month Banana Republic habit has been far less difficult than I anticipated and three weeks in I'm surviving the Six Month Challenge with no issues and managing to dress myself freshly most days.

Then today, I gave up.  Three weeks in and I'm wearing leggings, a sports bra and a tank top to the supermarket.  Three weeks in and I go into a full on panic about our financial future.  Three weeks in and my earth-mother like patience disappears and I break down into full on tears because P is screaming for no reason in the car on the way to that supermarket that I'm headed to in my leggings, tank top and pony tail.  Did I mention I haven't showered today?

Thanks to my all or nothing personality, I immediately started updating my resume, checking out job opportunities and have now decided one thousand percent that this amazing gig as a Mommy that I've scored just can't last the full year we've agreed to and momentarily, I resent T or maybe the universe for not having it all figured out for me. Hence, the email about "needing to talk" and "sorting out our life." .

This is what they talk about when they say there are Ups and there are Downs and for some reason it takes me a little longer to come to the conclusions that most people already know.  Because the truth is we are fine. The truth is we are more than fine and life is pretty good.  In fact, life is pretty great even without a new handbag this month.  But I've never been very good at appreciating the middle.  Until now.

See, today just when my thoughts and fears got a little too loud, my toddler got a little too quiet.  So I walked into the kitchen to see what was going on.  What I found was 20 tupperware containers and 5 dishtowels strewn across the floor while one little boy sat happily in the middle of it all wearing a devilish grin.  All of a sudden it becomes a good thing that I haven't showered and that I'm wearing leggings, because I plopped myself right down in the middle of it all and played with my little boy, my tupperware and my no-longer-clean dish towels.  Then instead of mapping out tonight's conversation, I began to look forward to going to dinner with T, not because we are going to "talk" and "sort out" god-knows-what, but because we are going to laugh, a lot, because that's what we always do.

What did you do today?

Me?  Today, I played.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Young, Wild and Free

Despite the fact that I like to bump Wiz Khalifa's party anthem, Young, Wild and Free in my not-even-a-little-bit-pimped, four door sedan with a toddler in the back seat, I am none of those things.

Young?  Well, I'm relatively young, but I'm not party on a Tuesday night because I live in NYC young and I haven't been since I was 29.  Wild?  The wildest thing I've done lately is stay up past midnight at a wedding and "sleep in" until 9am.  That's a far cry from the UnPlain whose trips to Vegas made The Hangover look like a children's book.  And Free?  The only thing Free about me is my pay rate, because I work for a toddler and he only pays in smiles and kisses.

However, yesterday, for about two hours, I was all of those things at the most unexpected of places; the Periodontist's office.  Yes, the Periodontist's office where the average patient age hovers around 68.  Check Young off the list please.

Now on to Free.  Yesterday was the first time since leaving my paying job to play house that I've been separated from P.  It's scary, but true, that for the last two weeks and three days P and I have been quite literally attached at the hip save for the 45-minute nap I took this Saturday while I listened to T and P play just outside our bedroom door.  So after I dropped him off at Grandma's house and started my drive to have some long-dreaded gum surgery, it dawned on me that I was free.  No baby to buckle in and unbuckle out of a car seat, no blackberry to check, no dishes or laundry to do and only one place to be. The oral surgeon's chair.  Not everyone's idea of freedom, but any parent would likely agree that laying back in a chair without a child, spouse, boss or co-worker interrupting is about as free as it gets.  I was FREE, despite the fact that an oral surgeon was about to rip my gums away from the teeth that nature had so nicely attached them to.