Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is My Break Over Yet?

A few weeks ago, I informed my husband that he was about to experience something that had been few and far between for a while: an all-guys weekend. No girls allowed. Just him and...the baby. Yep, I was headed out of town for a girls' weekend of my own and leaving him with our 14-month-old son. Our 14 month-old son who had never spent a night of his life away from his mother. Our 14 month-old son who was currently falling to pieces if I as much as left the room to use the bathroom. Our 14 month-old son who had spent almost all of his days within shouting distance of dear old mom. That's right, it was a rite of passage for all three of us.

Truth be told, I needed a break. I was off to meet with my girlfriends and engage in some much-needed retail therapy.

So when I announced my plans to leave for three days (well, one whole day and two half-days), I was happy and thankful to hear my husband say, "okay." Okay. Like I had just suggested we order a pizza. Okay. No sweat. Have fun! See ya! I don't know what I had expected him to say...after all, my husband is not the type to consider hanging out with his own child to be "babysitting". But I guess I had anticipated at least a glimmer of anxiety, confirmation that I was still A+ #1 Parent-in-Charge and that my leaving the household was a recipe for disaster. But as it seemed, it was no biggie.

About a week later, my beloved voiced some apprehension. "It's not that I don't want you to go and have fun, but....well, there are just some things he just wants you for."

Ahhhhh....the validation I was looking for. My baby needs me! I am not as replaceable as I thought! I smiled, patted his arm knowingly, and smugly said, "I know, but you'll be fine without me."

But as I smiled on the outside and calmly packed my overnight bag, I was the one freaking out. I knew my husband could handle it just fine...but could I? Lately I had been daydreaming about the open road, about listening to whatever station I wanted to on the radio without input from anyone else, and about having dirty diapers and messy mealtimes be someone else's problem. I was seriously looking forward to a few days away from my precious baby, and what did that say about me as a mother? Although I knew it was time for us to spend a night apart, I felt guilty for looking forward to it, no doubt about it.

When the day finally arrived I got in the car and waved goodbye and blew kisses through the window as I drove away. I waited for the exhileration of the open road to hit me. I waited to feel liberated and free. But I didn't. I felt lonely and bored. Plus, my CD player was broken. I called home.

"What are you guys doing?"

"He's fine. We're going to the park."

Life went on.

When I arrived at my destination and reunited with my college girlfriends, I noticed myself noticing things I had never noticed before. Getting into a car that didn't have Cheerios littering the floor made me feel glamorous. Putting something on the edge of a coffee table and knowing it would stay there until I personally moved it was an indulgence. Taking a shower and drying my hair without first having to turn on Baby Einstein was a step back in time. I browsed the mall without a thought of whether I had adequate supplies of juice and goldfish crackers in my bag and lingered in a dimly-lit restaurant without a high-chair in sight.

And I talked about my baby non-stop.

What I'm trying to say is, I did feel liberated, and I did feel free. It was nice to have a break and be able to focus on just me for a couple of days. But I learned something about myself that weekend: I didn't need as much of a break as I thought. By Saturday night I was itching to be home wiping off sticky fingers and searching the dryer for the matching top to tiny pajama bottoms. And when my car finally pulled into the driveway on Sunday afternoon and I peeked at my baby sleeping in his room, I knew that soon my break would be over...and I couldn't wait.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Racism? Or just Jerkism?

This week I ask you: which is worse - to be a racist, or to be a jerk about it?

The media is all up in arms this week over Don Imus and his morning radio talk show, on which he called female Rutgers University basketball players, "nappy-headed hos." He has been dismissed for two weeks and some are calling for his termination from the airways. The NAACP has demanded an apology to the athletes, Al Sharpton has scolded him on his own show, and Jesse Jackson has led a protest against his program and called for an end to racism in our culture.

But is racism the real issue here?

I am not saying that the racist nature of his comments should be ignored; racist comments are wrong and I think it is important to point that out and ensure that our children understand the ignorance of basing opinions about people strictly on issues of race.

But in my opinion, Don Imus' comments have less to do with him being a racist than with him being a jerk, and with us letting him get away with it.

Why is it okay for someone - anyone - to go on the air and make rude, insulting, and downright mean statements about people and call it entertainment? People like Don Imus and Howard Stern and countless other grumedgeons who have branded their own version of shock-jock entertainment have created an empire and earned millions at the expense of common decency. But as long as we as a society encourage these bullies to clog our airways with insults and crude humor by listening to their programs, they will continue to take full advantage of their first amendment right to free speech.

Civil rights organizations are calling for Imus to be fired because of his racist comments. But sadly, Don Imus will probably only be fired when he stops making money for his broadcaster. When companies stop advertising because people stop listening because he uses his time on the air to insult our intelligence, he may be fired.

What I am trying to say is, the outrage is misplaced. It should be at ourselves, for letting people like him trash-talk us to a point where we consider profanity and rudeness to be an acceptable use of our airways.

So which is worse, to be a racist or to be a jerk about it? I honestly don't know, but I know better than to answer that question.