When considering whether or not to embark on a long journey with your infant, walk to the nearest mirror and while looking at yourself intently, ask: “Do I have what it takes?” If tears begin rolling down your cheeks, simply walk away and try again tomorrow. Or, if your flight leaves in two hours, call your mom, pray, and whatever you do, DON’T LEAVE THE CAR!!!
I was about ten minutes into the airport process when the meltdown began. My baby was fine, I, however, was totally not fine. It was late because I was catching a Red-Eye flight from Maui to Los Angeles to Newark to Syracuse, this was my first mom trip without my husband, and my all consuming fear of plane conflict came crashing down on me, as I tearfully navigated my way through security with ONLY two hands. After the security guard requested I relinquish my two hands for a “swab” of some kind (because holding my baby with my neck and armpit is exactly what I want to do at this point), I recollected my backpack, cute shoes, and ergo baby, walked to the nearest seat, called my husband, and sobbed.
You see, one of my best friends was getting married that weekend, and I HAD to be a bridesmaid and take part in all of the once in a lifetime activities with people I love, but my fear of the journey was absolutely crippling. My belief that I would not be enough, that no one would help me, and that the mama bear in me would somehow end up in custody, paralyzed the bold traveler in me.
After fourteen long hours of breastfeeding next to awkward businessmen, endless soothing/bouncing/rocking, angry glares at childless honeymooners, Amanda Perez’s “God Send Me an Angel” playing on repeat in my head, crying, and using the restroom with a baby strapped to my belly, I touched down in Syracuse. What awaited me was a feast for my weary spirit as I loaded up my luggage into one of my dearest friend’s rental cars and headed to a family picnic during the waning hours of the sun’s light.
The beauty of genuine community and love seeped into my lost and apathetic heart amidst long walks, tearful soul sharing, celebration, homemade mojitos, chaos, good food, dancing, killer french press, wedding preparations, and laughter. I felt renewed and inspired to take these truths back with me into my present life of transition, doubt, and unknown. I no longer felt like I was the only one struggling with adjusting to big changes.
The wedding itself was beautiful, and the journey back to Maui was actually really easy as God gifted me with a whole row to myself and a flight attendant set on keeping me well hydrated and being my daughter’s sole babysitter. I now had the journey on lockdown! Not to mention, a plane full of people heading to Maui is generally more pleasant than a plane full of people leaving Maui at 10:30pm.
So, how do you travel halfway around the world and not kill your infant or yourself?
- Allow yourself to cry
- Book seats towards the back of the plane (the backrow already smells like poop and the expectations are already pretty low)
- Pack lots of snacks in easily accessible areas
- DO NOT check your stroller and car seat through to your final destination!!!!! Your arms will need a break.
- Allow yourself to ask for help
- Take comfort in knowing that thousands of moms have done this before you
- Lean in to the chaos, believing God is good
- Carry on confidently knowing that the struggle is real, but that the struggle is totally worth it!
Here’s to the mamas that boldly go! Now go get a massage; you deserve it.
Wonderful first post. I love your words, your honesty, and the lessons you learned. And I loved living at least the fun part of that trip with you!!!!
I am sitting here bawling over your account of the Syracuse trip! Your words are amazingly vulnerable and honest. You are a fabulous writer ie a communicator of feelings. When you told me about the stewardesses help etc. it was such a short Reders Digest condensed version. I had no idea of the rest of the story and am so privileged to know it now. I recently read that in Israel there is a clear understanding of life as the ever unfolding of a story not so much an end or beginning. I so love the descriptions of community, relationships, and just people in action. Lots of love and missing you, Gma J