Friday, December 27, 2013

The Delay

We're in Texas where we've been visiting my husband's family and introducing the kiddos to the simple joys of the 60 degree Christmas. 

Good times.

Unfortunately, in order to enjoy all of this holiday merriment, we of course had to travel by airliner from Los Angeles, CA to San Antonio, TX.

Yeah, that part didn't go so well.

Because we didn't want to lug our kids' "Santa toys" 2,000 miles West we decided that "Santa" would make a special stop at our house overnight on Friday night for an early Christmas Saturday morning before we left town. 

Like so many parenting decisions, this seemingly fool-proof plan actually created more problems than it solved, as 1:00am Saturday morning found David and I cursing all our life choices as we furiously packed for two weeks away with the kids while simultaneously attempting to assemble a four-foot-tall dollhouse.

The kiddos jumped from their beds at 6:00am the next morning excited to see what wonder "L.A. Santa" had brought, and they squealed in delight as they saw all their hopes and dreams realized by the sight of a WALL-E (for the five-year-old), an airplane set (for the three-year-old), and a finally @#$*ing assembled dollhouse (for the baby) laid out lovingly under the tree.

Having allotted exactly 36 minutes for their delight, at 6:45am it was time to throw them all into coats, bundle them into the car and set out for Texas.

Paranoid about the Christmas travel rush, we'd left early and we managed to arrive at our gate at 9:00am for our 10:30am flight. The gate area was packed and I immediately set to work establishing a child containment area.

Above is what we refer to when traveling as "The Circle of Fun". 

I create a perimeter with backpacks and carry-on bags and then fill the center with toys, books, and games. The rules of the circle of fun are simple:



The circle of fun will usually buy us a good forty minutes, which would have taken us right up to boarding time with a short stop at the windows to look at the planes before take-off. 

I figured we were golden.

Until what we came to think of as the "Board of Doom" changed our flight's departure time to 11am. 

All must obey the "Board of Doom"!!!!

So I dismantled the Circle of Fun and took the kids for a walk. We made our way from one end of the terminal to the other amidst my highly non-merry shouts of:

"Slow down!"

"I thought I told you no running!"

"NO! That man doesn't want you to touch him!!!" 

I briefly hoped we had found salvation when we encountered  a willowly blonde model-type carrying a miniature pig. (Did I mention this was LAX?) I figured the novelty of an out-of-place farm animal would surely delight my offspring and so I led my children in an all-out assault on the woman while shrieking:

"Kids!!! Look what this lady has!! Can you believe it???" 

Man, I was sure that the discovery of an airport pig would buy us at least a half-an-hour...

actual photo of airport pig

...but the pig proved mysteriously uncompelling. My five-year-old barely turned he head as he ran by it and my three-year-old only stopped long enough to yell,

"What's wrong with that cat????"

...before running off to collide with more irritated business travelers.  

We returned to our gate with hopes of boarding dancing in our heads only to find the Board of Doom now listing our flight's departure at 11:30am.

I knew deep in my heart that the Circle of Fun had no more to give and so I set up the "drive-in airport waiting area movie" zone. 

This proved fairly successful and bought us some more time as the Board of Doom continued to mock us by slowly changing our boarding time to 12:30pm...

...then 1:00pm...

...then 1:30pm...

Having long-since missed our connecting flight from Dallas to San Antonio, by early afternoon despair had decidedly sunken in. Our snacks were long gone. Our kids were overtired and cranky. Our carefully planned out movie watching schedule had been blown to bits.

At 2:00pm we finally managed to board our flight. Visions of spending hours in search of a connecting flights loomed as my children spent the travel time randomly re-seating themselves in different permutations all over our row.

We arrived in Dallas four hours late and, ignoring our children's cries of,

"I'm tired!"

"I'm hungry!"

"I don't want to get on another plane!!!"

...we hustled frantically down hallways and aboard shuttle trains to the gate for the next flight departing for San Antonio.

We arrived just as the doors were closing and proceeded to beg the gate agent to *please please please please don't you know it's Christmas please* find us five seats. Val (here after known as "Val the gate agent sent to us in our time of need directly from the heavens) could only find us four seats but I assured her that holding the baby on my lap would work just fine if she could JUST....GET US....ON.....BOARD......

...which Val (TGASTUIOTONDFTH) did... First Class may I add!

Only two more days until we travel again but until then...


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Bye Week

Two weeks ago we traveled to Chicago for Thanksgiving.

The kids took the travel in stride and then held up pretty well for a week at my brother's non-toddler-centric home. We had a really fantastic visit, but on the whole the entire undertaking proved to be kind of monumentally exhausting.

Then, as I mentioned last week, we came home and flew headlong into a weekend of Christmas craziness. 

We put up the tree, hauled out the advent calendar, hung lights, and generally (to quote my sister-in-law) decked the ever-loving crap out of the halls.

By Monday morning I was ready for a vacation.

Unfortunately a vacation was not on the agenda. And so instead I woke up at 5:15am with my still-on-Chicago-time offspring. I got my "out of the habit of going to Kindergarten" Kindergartener off to school in a flurry of teary protestations and then started mentally preparing to take the 3- and 1-year-olds to the grocery store to restock and begin prepping meals for the week.

As I wearily attempted to load my overtired kiddos into the minivan I heard a voice speak to me as if from the heavens. This celestial voice intoned with great authority,

"You know what? Screw this!"

I paused. I reflected. And do you know what I did for the next three days?

I heeded that voice.

Accepting the fact that I had reached a point of near-total burnout I just decided to dial everything back. Like a professional football player, I found myself craving a much needed break from the full-contact sport that is motherhood.

So, I opted to give myself a bye week.

  • Instead of doing fun-filled outings to the park and the zoo I left the kids in their PJs for the whole day and allowed them to wreak havoc in the playroom without making a single effort to tidy in their wake.
  • I punted on mealtimes and served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and microwaved Mac-n-Cheese for dinner.
  • I allowed the kids to watch the movie "Planes" on repeat to the point where they could recite the entire film line by line.
  • I gave my five-year-old the iPad at nap time and passed out on the floor next to my little ones for an hour each afternoon.
  • When my husband got home from work at night I greeted him with a tired kiss and some Chinese leftovers before heading to bed at 8pm.
  • I ignored homework projects and instead let my five-year-old draw in his Mickey Mouse coloring book to his heart's content.
  • I put the kids in the bathtub at 5:30 at night and let them splash each other until the water got cold.
  • I did too far much Facebook browsing and far too little interacting with my offspring in a meaningful way.

For almost 60 hours of our collective lives I indulged in some genuinely lackluster parenting, and you know what? 

Everyone survived.

By Thursday I had caught up on some much-needed rest and started to feel a little bit more human. I was ready to re-tackle the playroom, which had fallen into a state of epic disrepair. I dove into the gigantic laundry pile that had been festering in the corner. I bought groceries and began preparing decent meals again. I even managed a genuinely joyful Santa outing will all three kids in tow.

It felt good to be back.

But I'm still glad for those few personal days I took to get back on my feet. I needed them.

Because falling down on the job sometimes doesn't make you a bad person or a terrible parent -- it just makes you a Mom taking a much needed bye week.