Parenting: Join the Club.
My husband and I took our one year old son on his first plane trip recently.
As you can imagine, it didn’t go smoothly.
Despite my cherished mantra bracelet I wear everyday reminding me to “Enjoy the journey,” this journey took a lot of reflection to enjoy.
The flight started with general it’s-almost-time-for-nap fussiness only to turn into full on meltdown status before the plane had even taken off. During this time a person from the row across and up some leans back and proceeds to give me advice on how to calm him. I look up to see her mouth moving but I can’t even think because the crying and screaming are all-encompassing.
It was one of those moments where you are above your body looking down at the current situation and realizing we had become those people.
Those people with the screaming toddler on the airplane.
Not only were we scrambling to find something that would work, but we were also facing the silent, and not so silent, judgment of fellow passengers.
Upon landing, the woman from across the aisle leans over and tells me she was only trying to help. I want to tell her that her suggestion was unhelpful for me, and if it was going to work I would have done it immediately, but instead I smile and nod and keep breathing.
Our trip went well enough, even with the building anxiety of knowing that we have to go back the way we came.
Sure enough, the time came and we were back in the car that led to the bus that led to the tram that eventually got us onto the plane to go back home. We felt better prepared this time, mentally anyway.
We thought, what could be worse than the way there?
We were about to find out.
The plane starts to taxi and my son is happily looking out the window watching the action when he looks over at me and starts to poop.
Innocently I thought, “Oh, it’s just a poop. Happens everyday. No big deal.”
That’s when I feel something. Immediately, I knew.
This was not just a poop.
This was an explosion.
I proceed to hold my son floating in the air at arm’s length desperately waiting for the seat belt sign to go off. An agonizing few minutes passes and it finally goes off. I get the young techie looking guy in the aisle to take off his headphones and get up so I can proceed to get the diaper bag from the overhead storage and get us to the bathroom.
I waddle us both to the back of the plane only to find out I need to use the room at the front of the plane.
I waddle us all back up the aisle and wait for the room to be vacant.
We finally get in there and I quickly realize I’m going to have to get MacGyver-style with this. I unfold the changing table and unfold it again to get it all the way flat, hang the bag around my neck, get out all the necessary equipment, lay my son down on a blanket, get him undressed, contain everything while he keeps trying to roll over, pray he doesn’t do anything drastic while still naked, get him all put back together and all the waste in the proper receptacles.
I finally get out and feel like I’ve aged years. My husband later tells me it was only 20 minutes.
Twenty minutes that felt like five years.
The rest of the ride goes by in a daze. I keep coming back to my breath, knowing that this, like everything else, will pass.
As we are walking through the airport, I learn I’ve lost my bracelet somewhere along the way. I was bummed, but had no energy to backtrack. In the middle of these thoughts, I also began to notice something else. The nods of solidarity I am getting from fellow parents traveling with their little ones.
I’ve joined a club I didn’t even know existed.
We get home completely exhausted. Later that night I reflect on the journey, and it’s only when I start to smile about it all and laugh at the truly crazy moments, that I find my bracelet again at the bottom of my purse.
It seems fitting.
That’s one of the true beauties of life. It goes on. We just keep on trucking and do our best to enjoy the journey along the way