After a week away, Jeff and I drove down to Va. on Thursday to reunite with our little buddy. At first, when we started to plan our vacations for the summer, we thought our houseboating trip would be a perfect time to send Jack down with our families in Va. Jeff warned me that any time away from Jack would be hard, but a week would be nothing short of difficult.

When he’s right, he’s right.

For starters, our weekend trip with friends was awesome. We’re so thankful that we got to go; however, the days after the trip left much to be desired. The day after we got back, I had to pack a different bag and get into a whole different mindset—one that I definitely wasn’t prepared for. And like most of my business traveling experiences, I somehow always luck out with the most headache-inducing scenarios. This time, I experienced the joys of arriving late to a formal dinner, thanks to delayed trains. Sadly, the way home was no better. As if the train gods weren’t already mad at me, the PATH services home to Hoboken last Wednesday were suspended due to God-Only-Knows-What.

Those few days left me with little time to sulk about Jack being gone, but they did leave me with lots of time to ponder what’s next up in life. And thankfully, Thursday was when we left to drive down to VA to go see our little guy!

It was a long time away from him—way too long. I knew it going to be hard, but I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. lots of teethAbove all, I’m so glad Jack got to spend some much needed time with the family in VA. Like most children, Jack seemed to have brought a different kind of joy into their lives, especially since many of them only see him when we drive home for major holidays. As much happiness as he brings us daily, I’m so glad we were able to extend it their way. Jack experienced a lot of new joys with his cousins, aunt, uncles, lolo and grandparents—not to mention, a whole new level of being spoiled rotten!

But with the good always comes the not-so-good. Thanks to our parents heeding our pleads, for the most part, Jack kept a very similar routine with a few exceptions. Before Jack left to go to Va, he was becoming a champion crib sleeper—something that I’d worked months to do. Lots of sleepless nights were involved. I’m assuming he was being rocked to bed by my mom, instead of being laid to bed in his crib. And so when bedtime took almost 2 hours and lots of tears on Friday night, I felt so defeated. Our routine sort of went out the window—not only was I suffering, but so was poor Jack. It’s like I’d lost a battle of baby sleeplessness and gained much more baggage. It was then that I realized that poor Jack was also suffering from separation anxiety. Any time I got up to leave, he would let out a whimper and start wailing. And the same would go for the daytime. If I left him to go to another room, he’d cry and wail. He didn’t want anyone else to console him for the first few minutes, only me.

I feel guilty for making him feel like that. I feel guilty for being the cause of those big crocodile tears. I feel guilty for needing balance in life.

Yeah, sure, he’ll be fine in a few days, but it’s these first initial days of working on the normalcy that makes it so damn hard. I sort of expected the departure for work to be difficult this morning, but actually, it wasn’t so bad. It’s almost like, he knew we were back in NJ, thus, he knew we’d be going back to our old routine.

While he was in Va., I envisioned him eating steak and ice cream all week. Thankfully, he didn’t have either (at least not that we know of,) but we did roll up to my parents’ house to find a small collection of organic snacks galore. Without a doubt, the kid was spoiled rotten and unfortunately, we all learned that an allergy-sensitive kid shouldn’t be spoiled with too much snacks. We discovered that Jack has an allergy after eating certain baby cookies which contained safflower/sunflower oil—ingredients that can often be found in snack sort of foods and ones he’s never really had. So that was a lesson learned for all of us that we just can’t give him anything. We have to stay diligent with monitoring his foods. But man, did he love those cookies!

He points at everything nowAppearance-wise, Jack looked the same, but I almost felt like his hair looked suspiciously shorter. Maybe it’s that his hair grew longer and I was visualizing it shorter? His top teeth have come in almost halfway, making him look like a baby hippo with his teeth all spread out and still missing one in the front.

He’s clapping more frequently, “playing” the piano and saying Amen (according to my mom.) But the most striking new thing is his pointing. It’s so funny—he points at everything he wants and makes one of his baby coos. He points at Jeff, he points at me, he points at his doggie, he points at food, he points at birds—you name it!

Beethoven in training

Even before Jack came home, Jeff and I agreed that there will be no more weeks in Va without us—it’s just too much when he’s this little. He enhances not only our lives, but our marriage that we felt so lost without him! We had 11 years of Jen and Jeff time, a week without Jack isn’t our idea of fun.

I’m thankful for the ability to share our boy with family, even though we choose to live far away; and yes, even if it does involve reverting back to a painful sleepless cycle. Sleep is overrated anyway.

Having close ties with family regardless of distance is positively priceless.