A year ago, my husband and I made the decision to move ourselves and our 3.5-month-old 1,500 miles from Jacksonville, Florida to Chicago. We are both remote workers, so our work goes with us. We have both dreamed of living in a ‘big city’ one day. So we moved, mostly because we could.
My parents, who lived three hours away from us (unless my dad is driving, then it is two hours), were less than pleased.
I made a promise to come visit once a year, just me and the kids – no holidays, no husband. Just hanging out, playing in the pool, hitting up thrift stores with my mom, playing with the baby, watching reality television. We’ve gone twice now, and I truly treasure those trips. No expectations, no rushing to get a holiday dinner on the table. Just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
But, it does mean a total of four flights, alone, with a toddler.
We’ve flown with her several times already, and she’s usually a breeze. I wasn’t overly worried, just slightly nervous in a ‘shit can always go wrong’ kinda way.
The first two flights were perfect. The baby was happily entertained by the box of new toys and snacks I brought, and there was an open seat next to us both flights. Even with no nap, she was in a great mood.
When we got to Florida, my normally somewhat reserved baby girl was cuddly and sweet with my parents. It made my heart happy to see them all together. It was an amazing trip.
And then, the flight back was upon us.
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The Night Before
The night before our flight home is when shit started to go sideways.
She’d been a little snotty, so I was worried she was getting sick. Come bedtime, I put her down in the crib, she went to sleep right away. Awesome, we are in the clear.
Nope, she wakes up an hour later crying.
She won’t go back to sleep, even with cold medicine. I bring her to bed with me for a bit to see if she will calm down.
Sleeping in bed with mama is a no-go, she thinks it is play time. After an hour or so, my dad, who has the patience of a saint, offers to try to lay down with her in the other room. I am more than happy to let him. I can try to squeeze in a few hours of sleep.
Oh, and my throat is starting to get scratchy. Flying the next day with BOTH of us sick should be fun.
After an hour and half of listening to her cry and then not cry, and then cry again, I send my dad to bed and take her back to bed with me.
She has a snack, I turn off the lights, she proceeds to crawl all over me.
I give up. Put her back in the crib with her bunny and chicken and glow worm and baby doll (She apparently needs an entourage to sleep these days.) She is out in 15 minutes.
It is 1 am, and I can definitely tell I am getting sick.
Tomorrow is gonna be the best.
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So, I am sick, she is sick, neither of us slept well the night before. I planned the flight at her nap time, hoping she’d sleep on the plane. Oh, did I mention I am 13 weeks pregnant, too? Sigh.
Our flight was delayed by 45 minutes, not the end of the world. She pushed her stroller with her baby doll around the airport, waved at everyone and said “Hi!”. It was adorable and I wish I had taken a photo.
First flight boards, finally. We only had an hour layover and with the delay, I am pretty sure we are going to miss the second flight. Freaking amazing.
The first flight is short, 45-minutes. She cried a bit, but it wasn’t unmanageable.
Low and behold, the second flight was delayed, too, so I didn’t get stuck in an airport for hours with a sick, unnapping toddler.
The travel gods are on my side, I am wonder mom, I can do anything.
Then, the second flight.
About 15 minutes into the flight she starts screaming bloody f-ing murder. Snacks aren’t helping, toys aren’t helping, the bottle of milk I tearfully begged the flight attendant for isn’t helping. My nose is dripping snot everywhere and I don’t have a tissue.
We walk up and down the aisle. She is 16 months and wants to touch everyone and everything. Which would be fine in a normal place, but in a tiny ass plane it means touching people, and their books, and playing with the zippers on their carry-on bags. With her germ-covered hands.
She screams when I try to stop her from touching the leg of the lady behind us (Sorry, lady).
She stops screaming – a little – if I stand up in the aisle and sway.
So, I am standing up in the aisle, 13-weeks pregnant, with snot dripping down my face, crying, while my toddler screams and cries, and the people around me try to act like they aren’t having their ear drums punctured.
I just keep swaying, and silently crying, and swaying, and wishing for the flight to be over so I never have to see any of these people ever again. I am totally going to end up in someone’s Facebook status.
After a few minutes, she calms down. I calm down. I now have both tears and snot dripping down my face, so I take her to the bathroom to change her diaper, rinse my face, and generally pull myself together. I don’t bring wipes, it is probably just a pee diaper.
Get to the teenie, tiny airplane bathroom, which has an equally teenie, tiny changing table. Wipe my own face and go to change her butt.
She has taken an epic crap. Which I couldn’t smell because I was sick.
Then, I realize that everyone else but me could smell the shit.
As parents, we try to savor the good times because we know they go by so fast. Maybe we should remember the bad times also end? Maybe, sometimes the answer is just crying with your toddler and being thankful you’ll never have to see any of those people again.
As for me, I’ll be over here trying to block the entire flight out of my memory.