Yes, that's my child chewing on the very common airport chair.
It started out well enough. In fact I'm quite suspicious there was some kind of bait and switch thing my child did on me but I have no way of proving it. Truth serum only works on those able to form sentences. So, we headed out in the early morning hours of a Thursday to the airport. He slept in the car as I had hoped. He was great in the airport despite the computers breaking down and them having to hand write my boarding pass. Security, no problem. Bad decision to carry him to the gate after that combined with him choosing to roll off the changing table in the bathroom while I dug through the bag for a diaper shook me a bit, but I was more worried about him getting crabby in the waiting area. I am pretty sure we scared most of the waiting room into thinking they were getting on board a plane with a nightmare about to unfold, but I was not sure yet. I knew he was tired.
Thankfully, he fell asleep on take off, let me eat breakfast, awoke, and played and then fell asleep again on my chest for most of the rest of the flight. I was bored once I was done napping, and he left a foot wide swath of drool on my chest but that's better than frantically managing a screaming infant. I arrived on the East Coast in good shape, got lost like an idiot who hadn't lived in the area for over 10 years, but made it to the hotel and collapsed with my favorite chinese food. Folks, I got to sleep in a bed for 11 hours with only one interruption requiring my attention the whole night. 11 HOURS.
What mom can say that?
Well apparently you moms with one child. Or maybe one child with an ear infection, who missed his nap and is doped up on ibuprofen. Whatever.
In any case, one might think that the cough cough sneeze barf that occurred mid-day Friday all over the car seat was a bad omen, but I had a great Friday. I ended that day thinking this one kid stuff was a breeze. This traveling with a sick infant to a place where the temperatures had soared over 100 degrees while maintaining the humidity of a steam sauna and harboring a plague of stink bugs from a foreign land was easy!
Somehow the honeymoon ended Saturday. I started crying about 10 am. I had driven for over an hour to try to get the kid to take a nap in the car only to find him just as crabby as if he hadn't had one, found that he had a taste for dirty hay strewn about the floor of the infirmary where I was to spend most of my time cataloguing silent auction items, come to the conclusion that I sure as heck couldn't handle the heat in that area and then realized that this child was not going to let me get jack done without swallowing a stink bug or some foreign object requiring surgery to remove.
Now for some information you need to understand my tears. For the last 8 years (I think ) I have been the savior of this silent auction. I usually had the luxury of spending hours there in the 3 days leading up to the event and 12 hours on the very day of the event running the auction while the rest of the fundraiser went on around me. It is chaos I turn into control. I feel like a rockstar and am told how fantastic I am multiple times per day while I'm there. Meanwhile, I get to revisit one of my favorite areas on the planet, the green, leafy, wild animal filled woodlands of Maryland. The old houses, the stone walls, the winding country roads. I love visiting even if I don't get to see friends. But this year I found myself incapable of accomplishing what I come there to do. I couldn't save the day if that infant wouldn't let me work!
In any case, not to draw out a long and boring story, I still managed to make it work. With the invaluable help of some 12th hour childcare I was freed to make it work with the time I had left. It wasn't as much fun as usual but they apparently made 12k off the silent auction alone, so we'll call that successful. But I had spent a lot of hours driving around the Maryland countryside thinking. Thinking about my dad mostly, and how little he knew of what I knew.
Did that make sense? My father didn't really take the time to find out what I knew. He was such an expert on everything that I guess it didn't occur to him to find out what I was an expert about, something a parent should really do. I think most of you will agree with me on that. I hope to be an expert on what my childrens' strengths and powerhouse skills are. I hope to be constantly amazed by what they know that I don't know. But then I'm the result of how I was raised. Maybe I'll err in the other direction and they'll think I know nothing. Whatever. But the result of all this thinking was not apparent to me until the day after I returned home. I hit full on mourning my dad again. The second anniversary of his death is the end of November. Apparently it's still raw, especially when I'm back where he and I shared such a love of the area and spent hours driving around together and now I'm driving around with MY kid in the car. Heavy.
So, after an exhausting couple of days in the heat and bugs we returned to the airport with a sense of confidence. The flight shouldn't have been any different than 4 days before. Same time of day, same seats, whatever. It was Not. The. Same.
This child would not sleep. He teased me with a short nap on takeoff. But then? When I was desperate for rest? Not a chance. I was physically exhausted from the day before at the auction, I was mentally exhausted from caring for an infant 24 hours a day for 5 straight days in weird circumstances, I was emotionally exhausted from dealing with dad stuff. I lost my COTTON PICKING MIND. I was bawling 3 hours into the flight knowing there were two hours left and this child was going to explode any minute and there was nothing I could do about it. I bawled and couldn't stop. I would slow down and then catch a glimpse of a flight attendant or another flyer and think how much they must have been pitying me and I'd start all over again. At one point the flight attendant just walked over and handed me a gigantic Snickers bar. That's how pathetic I was.
Well whatever, he slept in the car on the way home. While I bawled a bit more. The worst he got on the plane was some loud talking and this yelly thing he does when he's mad. Who knows if anyone got irritated, I was in my own world of self loathing. But we survived. And I had to have some help the next day from the therapist to get to the bottom of all the grief. Knowing it was about my dad made it a lot better and maybe I can just ask my psyche to next time not hit me with a two ton load of misery on a public plane where I have an infant so I can't go hide in the bathroom, Ok? Thanks.
So there ya go. Something I will never have to do again: fly cross country with an infant while bawling like, well, like an infant. That can go in my life book. Yippee.