Maybe someone does it more than we do. I will not claim to be an expert on the subject. But I will clearly assert that I have some breadth and depth in flying with children (though not as much as my wife). The topic has floated rather naturally to the surface because this week myself, my wife and our three little ones will embark on yet another cross-country flight. My palms are already a little clammy, my thoughts a little anxious and my blood pressure already slightly elevated.
If you’re an anxious person, you know that sometimes it’s helpful to take the issue that preoccupies you and “break it down.” What’s the real issue here? OK, let’s break it down:
· Pain: There will be pain for sure. I will be carrying a tremendous amount of stuff, without question. I will most likely be sitting in some uncomfortable position for numerous hours, and though I am always sitting in an uncomfortable position on a flight, one or more of my children will make it that much less comfortable.
· Fatigue: I will be exhausted. The hours we are flying are ridiculous. That aside, any trip with the children, even to the store or park, is exhausting.
· Inconvenience: Everything about the children makes traveling an inconvenience. Dirty diapers, awkward meals, toys, spills, stains, temperaments, etc.
Ok these are rough, BUT they are ENTIRELY manageable, and frankly, just components of our EVERY-DAY lives.
So what is it really? Why the anxiety?
I think this is it: IT’S ALL OF YOU! By that, I mean the rest of society. It’s my inability to turn-off that part of me that allows someone to cut in line, that hurries across a cross-walk when a car is waiting for me, that asks before putting the seat back on a plane, that apologizes for having a lot of stuff in the check-out line.
My anxiety is the combination of knowing what I am about to subject everyone on that plane to, and knowing that my sweet, innocent, albeit rambunctious, children will be the subject of gazes, eye rolls, hushed conversation, sneers, etc. This makes me feel about as vulnerable as anything that I do with any sort of regulatory. I DO NOT LIKE IT.
Imagine its 3 am, your daughter has been screaming for two hours, you are nowhere even close to your destination, things like dirty diapers or even throw-up permeate the air. Though admittedly entirely horrible, imagine how different that situation is when you are in your own car as opposed to sitting on a plane, 30,000 feet in the air with 300 people who don’t know you.
One gift that some mothers are endowed with is the gift to NOT CARE. They say, “Hello world this is my offspring in raw form! We are going to see my family on the other side of the country, and though I am not an insensitive person, and will try my best to bridle their infant and toddler passions, THIS IS US! We bought tickets like you did. I do not take pleasure in your inconvenience, but please recognize that your (frankly moderate) inconvenience on this leg of your trip is not sufficient in my eyes to prevent me from seeing my family, to prevent my children from seeing their grandparents. If your feeling sorry for yourself just remember that they will be accompanying ME for the rest of my trip….. and life.” Incidentally my wife have this gift :)