For the Christmas holidays my husband David and I decided to go to Texas to visit his family.
We'd fly into Austin, which was cheaper than the closest airport, and then drive for 2 hours to his hometown of Kerrville...
...then ten days later we'd fly to Florida, to see my folks, with a layover in Houston
...then we'd fly home separately, with David leaving a week early to go back to work. I'd take the 13-hour trip (including a two and a half hour layover in Atlanta) home from Florida by myself with the baby, David's golf bag, and a 62-pound suitcase full of Christmas gifts.
What could possibly go wrong?
Did you know that when you book a flight there is a box you can check that reads:
"I am traveling with an emotional support animal"
We will not be traveling with an emotional support animal. We will, in fact, be traveling with the exact opposite of an emotional support animal: a 3-month old baby.
As we arrive in the boarding area for our first flight several of our fellow passengers glare at us with expressions that seem to say:
"Really? You brought a baby? You suck as a person."
Which, fine, I kind of get. No one likes being stuck in front of someone's screaming baby on a long flight and Lord knows there is no hell quite like sitting on an airplane next to a parent who seems to have no idea that flying with a child takes at least a little effort.
For example, on our honeymoon trip, a lady sat her four-year-old next to my husband and then took her seat across the aisle from us. She ignored the kid completely during taxi and takeoff and as soon as we reached cruising altitude she put her tray table down and promptly fell asleep for 2 hours.
She woke up only long enough to tell her son 'I didn't bring anything' when he poked her to ask for a snack. The poor kid stared around confused until my husband reluctantly engaged him in a lengthy tic-tac-toe tournament.
My sister-in-law was once traveling with her four kids from New York to Chicago (a two hour plus flight). The mom and dad sitting across from them with a six-year-old had not brought a single thing with which to entertain him. They sat reading their newspapers and completely ignoring the poor kid, who understandably grew antsier by the minute. Finally, when their son's whining reached its peak the mom looked over to where my always well prepared sister-in-law was sitting and said, "Go over and visit that lady - she's got toys and snacks!"
I think we can all agree that parents such deserve to be thrown from the emergency exit mid-flight.
"But wait!" I want to scream to my fellow passengers as they stare me down, "I am not such a mom! I will make a sincere effort to keep my kid entertained! My husband and I have done a good bit of prep work to make things as easy as possible on the flight! I will not spend any part of the trip trying to get you to acknowledge the adorableness of my son's first plane ride by screaming, 'Who's a big boy on the airplane!!!!' at the top of my lungs while you attempt to watch the in-flight movie! I promise!!!!"
But what good would it do? In the end, I have nothing to offer my fellow travelers but empty promises - because frankly, no amount of preparation can insure that flying will with an infant will go smoothly.
Indeed, during each flight on our itinerary there are...issues.
There are extended bouts of screaming for no discernible reason...there are some unwelcome episodes of nudity on my part when my child employs his patented "crazed piglet" style of nursing...
...there is even a diaper incident requiring a complete wardrobe change for both Snood and myself. Some very sweet fellow passengers offer help and words of support, but most simply try to avoid eye contact while openly praying that we are not on the next leg of their journey.
In the end, we make it to all our destinations and successfully collect lots of Grandparently love and equally important, some fine Christmas loot!
Now safely back at home, all that's left to do is hope that by next year, when it is time to make flight plans once again, we will have forgotten this experience and be ready do it all over again.
And for your sake, all I can hope is that your itinerary and ours do not intersect.
But just in case, could you pack a couple of extra snacks?