I'm a pretty cas (as in casual) mom. Not much ruffles my maternal feathers, and yet, the thought of an impending solo flight with one of my chickies has been known to cause short, rapid heart flutters.
Why a mother would ever want to spend the duration of any time with her child confined to her lap surrounded by a host of strangers, in the air, is beyond me. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, you can't always get what you want, and the reality is an hour flight is way shorter than a seven hour car ride.
The joy of child flight traveling begins at the security check. Almost without fail, your sweet child has fallen asleep in the car on the way to the airport. Snug in their seat, lost in lala-land, your baby is a picture of an angel. However, car seat covers and dirty diapers are typical hideouts for suspicious substances. Thus, after a momma removes her boots and coat, empties her pockets, finds a safe place to stow her id and boarding pass, and displays her ziploc of 3 ounce liquids, she then must awaken sweet, sleeping baby, balance groggy baby on her hip, add baby's car seat to the conveyor belt, fold up baby's stroller with one hand (as you do not want baby to touch the germ-infested floor), lift stroller monstrosity to the conveyor belt ... and do all of this without showing the least indication of irritation or frustration.
Because after-all, modern mom's are never bothered by anything.
The pass through takes all of three seconds, and mom and baby find themselves of the other side of the scanner ready to reorganize everything back to its proper place. This is super fun when the security guard decides to take extra precautions with checking the car seat, requiring the balancing of baby to last longer, even as the next person in line's items are shot out crowding yours and causing a scene.
Find your gate.
I always try to take a while finding my gate. The less time your fellow riders have to size you and your baby up, the better.
Oh, sometimes these people are kind and sweet. They look lovingly at you, remembering nostalgically being exactly where you are. They love grubby cracker covered fingers and will instinctively shhhh your baby's tears should your angel express displeasure with his aviation circumstances.
These kind, encouraging types are necessary as the remaining un-encouragers passive aggressively look at you with death daggers, warning you of the potential wrath that will result if you bring a crying baby onto their plane. These people take pride in watching you lift your stroller up stairs on your own. After all, moms do this to themselves. If was our choice to not only have a baby, but also to attempt to fly with him.
Let's be honest. I have been all three of the people in this scenario. The dagger thrower, the longing loving parent, and well, the miserable momma.
Yesterday, I was number three.
Hudson and I took a journey to PA to celebrate my youngest bro's 21st birthday. The flight to was relatively uneventful, aside from the typical delights described above. However, after a long weekend of pack-n-play sleeping, Hudson was not as ready to play the chubby, giggling baby on our return flight. He was more interested in being a grump.
Hudson is pretty awesome, full of life, personality, and energy. Two of his most notable qualities are his volume and his strength. Nicknames he has received include Mouth and Squirmy Wormy. This weekend as he continually banged objects together as hard as he could and rammed his head into walls and furniture, he also earned the name Meathead.
As his mother, I don't buy any of it. According to me, he is my sweet, snuggly little boy, but his uncles are convinced. "Meathead. Meathead," they chant.
Loud and extremely mobile are not a good combination for optimal airplane infant etiquette. (Did you like the use of vowels there?) Throw into the mix the fact that it was a late flight complete with assured sleepiness, and well, it's a recipe for disaster.
Poor Hudson. He was so tired; unfortunately, we are Baby Wise people. This means that Hudson doesn't ever sleep on me. He always sleeps in his bed. We are huge fans of the freedom this gives at bedtime. Negatively, it means he and I have not figured out how to seamlessly induce sleep in public.
Instead of comforting and calm, kicking, flailing, screaming, and head throwing ensued. I tried everything to keep him quiet. Food, distraction, toys, games, nursing.
Sidenote: Nursing on an airplane is really awesome. Why wouldn't you just want to expose your skin next to a very new friend who is seated very close to you as your very overtired child takes a very long time to find the right spot? Goodness.
I also tried numerous positions to get him to sleep. At one point, I figured that the tops of my legs provided the largest flat surface for him to lay on and positioned him so. Yet as he started to get slightly comfortable, he realized backing his head up half an inch meant that he could bang it against the tray table on the seat in front of me, and well, why not do that ten times rather than falling asleep?
As you picture Hudson, red-faced and thrashing, also picture me. Calm, cool, collected. I am a mom. Nothing flusters me.
After the tray table head banging, I tried standing him up on my lap and pulling his head into my neck. It was at this time, that Hudson decided to try rock climbing. Well, mommy body climbing really. He probably could have climbed very high had his foot not gotten caught down the front of my shirt. So far in was it that I could not dislodge it myself without flashing the entire plane.
"Oh hey, seatmate. Remember how we bonded over the fact that you have three boys? That was great. Can you help me get my son's foot out of my shirt?"
Thankfully, said seatmate was one of the kind, nostalgic types. She didn't mind a bit. She also didn't mind Hudson's incessant kicking. Eventually with her help and the help of another kind, nostalgic across the aisle, we managed to get my ferocious bear to hibernate. Eyes shut, deep breathing, he looked just like a teddy!
Leaving the airport is way easier than entering it and catching first sight of the pick-up crew (hubby and Samara) is the best.
As I went to bed last night, I thought, "Whew, it's all over. We survived."
Wait a minute. Rephrase.
Please, it wasn't that bad. I could do that everyday. After all, I am a mom.
Lesson Learned: "Free Lap Child" sounds amazing. If you only knew ...