In my former life, I was a road warrior. Before I got pregnant with Bobo, I used to fly pretty frequently for my job. At the busiest time of our travel season, I’d be on the road a minimum of three weeks out of every month.
I loathed traveling for work. I hated pretty much everything about it: living out of a suitcase, working from a hotel room, eating room service by myself every night, not to mention the toll that business travel and jetlag take on my body and spirit. When the time came, I was definitely ready to relegate my wheely suitcase to the top shelf of the closet.
That said, after journeying cross country with a one year-old by myself, I have a whole new outlook on travel.
Chip and I left yesterday to come visit my grandma in the midwest. She is no longer able to travel to come see us, so I wanted to make a trip out to see her and introduce her to her great grandson. J volunteered to stay at home with Bobo for the week so Chip and I could have some quality time to visit.
With all of my flying under my belt, I foolishly thought it wouldn’t be a biggie, say, traveling 3000 miles with a toddler in tow. I’m just going to chalk that one up to yet another really stupid things I’ve done or thought since becoming a parent.
Yesterday, I while I let Chippy run around in the boarding area to get some energy out, I reflected on the countless times I used to fly in an entirely different capacity. It’s funny how perspectives change when you have kids of your own.
It used to be, if I saw a parent traveling with a little one, the first thought that involuntarily popped into my head was, “I hope THEY’RE not sitting next to me.” Yesterday, however, my eye immediately fell upon a harried, grumpy looking business traveler who looked particularly annoyed at Chip’s pre-flight antics (probably what I myself would have looked like a few years ago). I actually thought to myself, “I hope HE’S not sitting next to us.”
I used to love priority boarding. Occasionally, that also meant getting upgraded to first class and sitting in the big blue seats sipping a complimentary Bloody Mary while we waited for the flight to take off. Yesterday, however, I waited until the last possible minute to board, fearing what might ensue during the next three hours with a toddler in a confined cabin.
I used to dread sitting next to the grandmotherly types on the plane. They were the ones that used to whip out pictures of their grandkids and jabber on incessantly about their latest adventures, while all I wanted to do was get some shut-eye after a long day’s work. Yesterday, however, I was so thankful for the elderly woman sitting behind us who played peek-a-boo through the seat cushions with Chip, and helped retrieve the plastic cups he repeatedly flung onto the floor.
While boarding for our second flight, I caught the eye of another mom traveling with an small munchkin, who looked equally frazzled and ready for the trip to be over. I felt an instant bond with this total stranger, and we exchanged nods and tired smiles as if to silently say, “Good luck.” Call it a different kind of “Mile High Club,” one that is reserved especially for parents.
In spite of all my trepidation, Chip and I did make it to our destination in one piece, with “just” a few meltdowns during our journey. It helped that we had some sympathetic flight attendants and that grandmother sitting behind us, also. I did learn the hard way that sippy cups become pressurized at 50K feet, a fact I will stow away for future reference (sorry again for the in-flight shower, man in 12B). But, fortunately, grumpy business traveler was not sitting next to us.
I no longer have MVP status, priority boarding or first class upgrades from all of the frequent flier miles I racked up. What I can now claim is a new type of road warrior badge, one that I am more than happy not to have to brandish too often.
If that doesn’t merit double frequent flier miles, I don’t know what would.