Monday, July 6, 2009

Traveling Circus

A few weeks ago I had been stressing about an upcoming trip. I was worried about how hard it would be to leave my kids for the first time. A year ago I could not get on a plane for an annual skating competition. I don’t know what I was thinking last year to have thought that I could do it. But this year, I made myself do it. It was still difficult at best, and made harder when one of my sons climbed on top of my suitcase when I was ready to leave, screaming bloody murder. My baby sitter assured me that the second I left he would be fine, and he was. I left with tears in my eyes and a pounding heart full of anxiety and anticipation.

A few days later however, I returned, unscathed, and felt better about it all. I had actually enjoyed myself! I began to prepare for the next trip, a skating meeting, just a few days later. This time though, the plan was for me to take my daughter and my babysitter on the first leg of the trip, and my husband, his aunt and the boys would meet up with afterward for a visit with his parents who live near where my meeting was being held. Now, you might have thought I was nuts to think I could have taken a trip when my kids had just come home from the NICU. But now that you know I planned to take three one year olds, a 12 year old and an aunt along on a semi-business trip/family vacation, I’m quite sure you KNOW I’m nuts. Never fear - I know this now too.

I was hoping my daughter would not scream the whole plane ride, and luckily, she turned out to be a great little traveler. She slept the whole way, fell right into the Eastern time zone and slept well each night. My husband was not so lucky. To the passengers who endured the screaming on that flight – sorry. My husband’s un-rested and flat out exhausted expression when I picked them up was no joke.

Back when I planned the trip meticulously, I thought planning would alleviate the stress of traveling with small children. Who the heck was I kidding?!? I don’t care how organized you are, or I am. And I really, really am. Nothing can conquer the lungs of three tired, out of sorts one year olds. As a first time mom, I try not to be na├»ve and paranoid about everything. Sometimes it even works. I can honestly say I expected the trip would be hard. But that’s like saying you know what sleep deprivation is like before you actually have kids.

It took a couple of the four days we were there for things to settle. I was so attracted to the open space and large properties back east, I offhandedly remarked to my husband that it would be so nice to live somewhere like this. His response? “It may happen today. I’m not sure if this is a vacation or a relocation. I’m afraid to get back on a plane with the kids.”

We did manage to get on our flights home, and the requisite screaming resumed. At one point I was in the bathroom and began to wonder how long I could hide out in there before anyone noticed I was missing. Perhaps I could ‘accidentally’ end up in New Zealand or points beyond. Oops. Then I remembered I left my passport back at my seat, and resigned myself to the noise. We did our best to keep the munchkins occupied, and rotated them between the four of us as needed. The flight seemed to take forever, but finally, the kids fell asleep. Aaaah. But wouldn’t you know, it was just as we landed in L.A.

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