It was a long time coming but Christmas is finally over! Don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays. I love the food. I love the decorations. I love the food. I love the music. And I love the food! But let’s face it. The holidays are stressful! The shopping and dealing with crowds of people (because while society is getting close, you still can’t do all your shopping online!), wrapping all those gifts, coordinating the whole family’s schedules so you can at least make an appearance at as many parties as possible, Dirty Santa (need I say more?) It’s enough to drive even the ultimate “that” mom to double up the rum in her eggnog.
This year, I decided my Christmas needed a little more anxiety to make the season bright. My options were A) paint each of my cats’ claws, alternating red and green for each toe; B) start a political discussion with my extended family during Christmas dinner; or C) fly on a plane with a one and four-year old BY MYSELF. Hmmm….there was considerably higher chance of survival with options A and B. So to truly have the panic-attack-inducing experience I was missing in my “not that” mom life, I chose C. Oh and just for an added challenge, I threw in a layover.
The great thing about moving to another state to raise your family is the lack of face-to-face criticism of your parenting from those related to you who are convinced they did it better. They’ll still do it. But they’ll have to resort to doing it primarily via text message or passive-aggressive comments on your social media page. And that’s what we have the “ignore” button for. The downside to this, however, is that the burden of travel for holidays and other family functions tends to lie with you. (A lack of free baby-sitting is another serious drawback, but that’s another subject for another blog.) Since we live in Nashville and the majority of our extended families live in various parts of upstate New York, the fun of traveling with toddlers was my Christmas destiny.
Did I mention, that I had to do this BY MYSELF??? My husband could only join us for a brief period of our stay so the pleasures of diaper-bag lugging, stroller checking, child pulling, sudden-death bathroom hunting, and cabin pressure change effect on a baby were solely my own. He got to sit alone, lap baby-free, keeping tabs on nothing but his carry-on, and snooze to the soothing sounds of whatever crappy band he’s into right now coming through his earbuds. (OK that’s probably not true. I’m sure he was listening to his own music!) Me, I had to load up that conveyer belt at TSA all by my lonesome. If I were a “that” mom, I would have planned ahead, strategically organizing, labeling, and storing all the essentials into easily accessible pockets of my Vera Bradley jumbo-sized travel bag. But I’m a self-professed “NOT that mom”, therefore I spent 10 minutes hunting through 4 different carry ons for everything that might set off the dreaded alarm causing the oh-so-friendly agent to sneer at me and condescendingly ask “Is this your bag?” before she snatches it, rolls her eyes, and invades my privacy.
Somehow, I managed to uncover my laptop for all the writing I was sure to do over the next week; the iPad stocked to max capacity with baby shhh-ing videos for my son; my daughter’s Leap Frog overstocked with games about puppies and unicorns that I have never figured out the rules to; and my cell phone, all while wrangling a 4-year old with an inability to stand still and a 1-year old who didn’t yet walk! I dumped them in a disorderly fashion onto the conveyer belt and was immediately accosted by Mr. Smiley TSA Agent, who rolled his eyes, pointed to my feet, and inaudibly grunted “shoes”. I appreciate that the head of aviation transportation has recognized the nuisance of attempting to de-shoe and re-shoe small children during this period of travel turmoil, but why they haven’t decided to exempt PARENTS from this arduous task is for sure one of the great oversights of the universe!
Naturally, no one helped me repack all my crap. “That” moms would have reassembled their pack in a matter of seconds, bundling everything neatly into one of those double strollers with a built-in baggage compartment. I took 15 minutes to determine where each device fit, another 5 to shift items as I realized the diaper bag would no longer fit safely under the seat in front of me, an additional 4 trying to reopen my cheap Mickey Mouse stroller I got on clearance from Walmart, and a final 7 trying to squeeze my son into the restraints of said stroller. I dragged my daughter by the wrist while attempting to steer that stupid stroller all the way to our gate. We got there just in time to board.
There began the fun of finding where I put our tickets because I’m just not as tech savvy as some “that” moms and can’t figure out how to just pull them up on my phone! This was followed by the delight of realizing that I forgot to include my son as a lap child on my ticket when I booked and having to wait for the uber-friendly agent to cheerfully print me another. Somehow, we managed to cram all three of us into two seats. The plane took off and we all passed out from exhaustion for the duration of the flight.
Or at least I did! My kids may have been running around screaming the entire 2 hours. At that point, my brain went into survival mode and completely shut down.
But despite the insanity I endured traveling with two toddlers, giving my kids the experience of a big “not that” family Christmas, surrounded by a dozen people who love them, was worth it. This “not that” mom managed to give her kids the gift of family. And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. I may screw up in every other way, virtually every single day, but I envelope my kids in love. And as long as I’m doing that, my other imperfect ways can be forgotten.
At least until the flight back!