When I accepted a job in Baltimore in 2007, my dad assured me that I was only a quick flight away if I needed to come home or felt the urge to visit. Southwest Airlines flew direct to Detroit for quite low fares at the time. So, even then, I returned home regularly. It was easy then. I’d bring my backpack filled with goodies to get me through the hour flight, and my carry-on luggage to make my travel time that much quicker.
Then, I had my first son. Though I couldn’t imagine my desire to fly to Detroit could magnify, it did. I wanted MY family, MY friends, MY parents friends, MY grandma, and MY community to get to know him. It just didn’t seem fair that I was walking around Baltimore and never seeing anyone I grew up knowing… or anyone I felt proud to show my son off. So, my husband and I would fly in for a weekend to visit, and it never seemed like enough; not quite satisfying. I began extending those weekends and adding on a few more days to my itinerary in order to fulfill this craving. Yes- that meant flying back to Baltimore solo-without my husband.
There was no doubt I had anxiety, nerves, and sadness as my parents dropped me off at the departures door. In fact, those days, I carried him in the baby bjorn and felt that he was too small to recognize my anguish. I walked the terminal sobbing. Of course I was excited to see my husband again, but leaving home was beyond distressing. I would miss the company, the help, and the amazing support system I had in place. As bystanders would cross my path, they would offer a helping hand or just a, “poor thing,” expression as they saw my red, puffy, wet and teary face. If I wanted to spend more time home, I didn’t have a choice but to fly alone. So, starting as early as my first son being six weeks, I have flown without another set of helpful hands.
Then, I had my second son. And, continuing the desire to acquaint MY family and friends with my children, I, again, opted to travel solo with two little ones. From security personnel to the gate staff to the flight attendants, and several others in between, people were constantly asking if I needed anything or if they could help. I was told by friends and family that they couldn’t believe I traveled alone with kids–that they would never do it. My answer has always been, “If it meant spending more time with your family, you would too.” And, that’s just what I did.
Finally, I just had my third son seven weeks ago. As a tradition, my family flew to Detroit for Thanksgiving. Obviously this year with a baby due in October, the trip was contingent upon the status of the baby. Well, the baby was born on October 8, which gave him six weeks to get plane-ready and go. And, so we did. Our new family of five. My husband and I packed up, headed to the airport, and began our adventure. We divided and conquered; he took care of the older two, while I handled the baby. We survived it, and made it to Detroit.
Well, again, my husband needed to return back to work, and I wanted to stay longer. So, I booked a flight for the three kids and I to fly back to Baltimore…without anyone there to help me (except for my 4-year-old).
“How are you possibly going to fly back with three kids?”
“Why can’t someone fly back with you?”
“You are so brave.”
“Please tell me your husband is here with you.”
From questions leading up to it, and comments during it, I just stayed focused and organized in my own head; the same way I did in school, sports, and life. I saw it as a challenge. To be honest, I kept picturing myself doing the fireman’s carry through Jenison Fieldhouse as a Michigan State soccer player and thought that was way harder than carrying a sweet, cute six-week-old baby with two toddlers to tack on. I guess it’s just my personality to suck something up like that and do it without asking for help. After all, they are MY kids and MY responsibility. And, the satisfaction I got from watching my kids bond and spend such quality time with my family and friends makes the challenge beyond worth it. I’ve learned, especially with kids, you must prioritize the importance of things… and being “home” is high on my list.
The adventures of flying with three kids under the age of five will be continued… Stay tuned.