Friday, November 4, 2011

Domestic and International Enemies of the Traveling Mama

Those that regularly read my blog know I am big fan of the Blog Rants from Mommyland.  So as a true fan I decided to send them my own list after my first travel experience with Reagan.  See the message below that I sent to my beloved Lydia and Kate.

Hello Ladies!
Long time reader, first time email!  I adore your column and as a working first time mommy (in fact, today is my first day back to work after maternity leave) I have learned a ton from your blog and laughed even more.  It is both awesome and educational for me, you rock!
But I thought you might find my perspective on a new topic interesting.  Traveling with kiddos and how terribly hard it can be.  In 2006 I moved to Oklahoma to complete my Masters Degree at Oklahoma State University and had the (mis)fortune of meeting my husband here.  He promptly nailed my feet to the ground and I have been living here even since.  It’s great, except my family is all in Pennsylvania.  As in 1,350 miles apart, 22 hour car drive or several plane rides apart.  At first this was fine, but now that I have a new born I am so homesick for friends and family that live far away.  And this is also the first grandchild for my mother so the distance is also heart breaking for her. 
So due to a serious case of homesickness, and a few remaining precious days of maternity leave I flew across many states with my 7 week old infant.  But wait, there’s more.  I flew STANDBY.  Insanely risky, moderately dangerous, and completely free!  Thanks to a buddy pass from my brother in law who works for an airline I got a free ticket to fly standby.  Since this was the ONLY ticket I could afford I took the chance and flew home.   The visit was amazing, the time I spent traveling was NOT. 

Please enjoy my list of the domestic (and international) enemies of the traveling Mama.  

           Hello there complete stranger, please don’t touch my baby.  Lots of people are at the airport, and it just so happens they are also carrying lots of germs with them on their travels.  So while I appreciate your comments of how adorable she is, and how brave (read: crazy) I am to fly with her, there is no reason for you to touch her.  And no, you may not hold her.  Or put your finger in her mouth.  Especially you, crazy old man with cigarette fingers.  I don’t care if you are a grandpa, step back. 
I was accosted by so many people at the airport it wasn’t funny.  I should mention I was blessed with a beautiful baby, it literally stopped people in their tracks and I heard a million squeals from women of all ages.  I made friends everywhere I went, even one older lady who got a full moon in the bathroom as I was changing the baby and exclaimed “Ohh, what a cute hinny!”  I can’t even tell you how often people offered to hold her for me “if you get tired”.  I just envisioned them running off with her and me telling the police “Well they offered to hold her so I just handed her over…”.  

      Nursing covers are in fact intended to cover.  So when I am using it and you see little feet peeking out from under it this should be a good clue I am intending to COVER myself.  In no way does that mean you should lift the corner for a look.  If I wasn’t using both hands I would smack you right now.  And to all the funny looks from the men on the plane and airport, what are you looking at?  I am being discrete, I am not flashing my boob, so what’s with “the look”?  I would love to be nursing in the privacy of my own home but I am here traveling so get over it.  My child was hungry, so I am feeding her despite our close proximity to you. 

No, my seven week old child does not have a passport you asshat.  It takes longer to order a passport than she has been alive!   Yes, this is an international airport but I happen to just be flying to my connection in St. Louis.  

Oh, the plane restroom, you are a real enemy.  For one the changing table is so small I can barely fit the baby girl on there to wipe her butt.  Yes, I would prefer to use the airport bathroom with all its glorious elbow room but sadly baby girl did not follow the “No pooping on the plane” rule.  Even worse, it seems huggies is also an enemy on this trip because it was a leaky mess.    And let’s not forget about what happens when Mommy really has to pee on the plane.  I am traveling by myself and I can’t hold the baby and pee so that leaves me at the mercy of the flight attendant.  Let’s just hope the complete stranger I had to hand my child too while I peed was careful and had a good hold on her when we hit that turbulence.

Checking the stroller and car seat gate side was convenient, that is until I saw its condition when it was returned to me.  Anyone who has held a baby knows it’s only a matter of minutes before even the tiniest of tots gets heavy so it was a godsend to have the stroller with me at the air port to lug around the baby.  Especially during the 4 hour rain delay in Chicago.  But that also means I left the stroller at the end of 5 different tarmacs to get on the 5 different flights it took to get there and back.  My poor stroller was promptly tossed around, banged, bumped, and then hefted back to me at the end of each flight.  My brand new $300 stroller looks like hell.  Golly gee, thanks for handling it with care. 
      Let's not forget the battle for the arm rest when on the plane.  I think I deserve it due to the fact I am trying to breast feed but the passenger next to me felt differently.  This meant I had to lean out into the isle, dodge other passengers as they got on the plane and in two separate instances block a piece of luggage from whacking her in the head.  It’s great I didn’t have to pay for an extra seat and could travel with an “infant on lap” ticket but come on people.  Watch out!  Be courteous!   It’s bad enough I can’t nap while I we fly since I have to hold her the whole time, but now I have to be on the constant look out as well.   I got up at 3 am to try and make the 7 am flight so I am tired and being super alert is pretty darn hard right now.

       And lastly here’s to the complete lack of confidence strangers had in me, and they told me all about their concerns.  I am a 29 year of grown up (mostly) with a masters degree.  But that is thrown right out the window when someone sees you are traveling alone with a little baby.  Below are a few of the callous comments I received during my very long day at the air port. 
“You’re traveling alone?  Just you and the baby?  Really?”
“Bless your heart (Southern for “boy, you are one dumb Mom)”
“Boy aren’t you brave!  And alone…. Oh but you have a wedding ring.  Where is your husband dear?”
“Is this really a good idea for the baby?” 
“I never would have been able to do that alone with a little one her age.  You’re just so…. Well are you ok?”

p.s. Enjoy the attached photo of baby girl at the airport.  With the baggage tags on her car seat it kind of sent the wrong message, no I did not check the baby.  Although that definitely would have been easier…

p.p.s  thank goodness for the family bathroom.  Those were a brilliant idea.  No doubt a traveling Mama came up with that design. 

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