Monday, July 18, 2011

The first time away

Elliot is just a shade over 4 months old and Lauren and I recently spent our first nights away from him. I was lucky enough to have won a poker tournament earlier in the year that gave me a free entry in to the World Series of Poker “main event.” Winning this entry meant I got to spend 5 days out in Las Vegas pretending to be a high roller, which is great for me, but hardly a place to take a little baby.

Getting the opportunity to play in the World Series of Poker is unquestionably a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience for someone like me. The entry fee for the World Series of Poker is a staggering $10,000; needless to say this is not something I would have been using my own money for.  Had I won the event, it would have netted me right around $9 million. Since you’re reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve deduced that the $9 million did not quite pan out this time. However, just having the opportunity to compete at that level was incredible.

We had known several months ahead of time that I was going to be playing, and since Lauren is fully aware of the magnitude of this opportunity, she didn’t want to miss the chance to be there to experience it with me.  This gave us plenty of time to mentally prepare for the moment we would leave Elliot “alone” for the first time.
We are blessed to have strong family support on both sides, and Lauren’s parents didn’t hesitate to make the long drive up from Houston to spend a few days with their favorite grandchild while his parents were in sin city. We figured we couldn’t do much better than that. Lauren turned out pretty great, if I do say so myself, so her parents must be pretty good at handling kids, right? We knew it’d be tough to leave our little buddy, but were reassured that he was in great hands.

I think sometimes the experience of being first-time parents is so unique and exciting that I don’t realize just how much it has changed me as a person. Not to say that I was a selfish person before, but I will say that before Elliot, when I was in Vegas (or any vacation), the last thing on my mind would have been what is going on back home.

The first night in our hotel I woke up at 4:30 am (6:30 central), the time Elliot usually stirs in the morning. Even though we were in a perfectly quiet room, no baby monitor, and had all the elements in place for a lengthy sleep, I was wide awake wondering if he was doing his usual morning laugh at that exact moment. And even stranger yet, I was OK with that.

As the trip progressed, we realized just how much we missed the personality of a little guy who hasn’t even come close to saying a word yet. I knew I had it bad when I was sitting at my table in the huge Pavilion Room at the Rio, surrounded on all sides by people who had risked $10,000 of their own money for a chance at millions, and I was sharing baby pictures with the guy seated to my left. And later when I lost the hand that put me out of the tournament, one of my first thoughts was “Good, now I can go home and see my boy.” Of course one of my next thoughts was, “What the heck am I thinking? I just missed out on $9 million!” But, hey, it was a sweet thought for a fleeting moment.

Jordan Echols is a Sr. Marketing Specialist for Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and first-time dad.

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