It’s Not About the Destination

I love my planner. With work and family, I have multiple things going on and need a place to get it all out of my head. It helps keep me sane. It also offers me a new inspirational quote each week. This week’s quote was especially fitting as I prepare for a road trip with my two little ones to my cousin’s wedding, about seven hours away.

A good traveler

I learned about three years ago, when Riley was born, that no plans are fixed. Okay, it took me about a year to fully let go of the control I longed to have over plans, but I learned and relearned how to be flexible. By the time Maddie came around, I’d mastered it (or at least as much as any control freak can). So, on my road trip, I do not plan to have any fixed plans. There will be no “I will arrive by this time” or “We will stop at this rest stop.” I fully intend to either arrive early or late. I may stay a night in a town I hadn’t planned to stay in, and I probably will be stopping along the side of the highway at some point.

The second half is a little harder. I fully intend on arriving.

Like you should with any quote, I am choosing not to take this quote at its literal meaning. We will arrive, although I may arrive a little wiser than when I left. I have traveled by air with a baby, then a pre-toddler, and then a toddler when I made my yearly trip home for Christmas with Riley while we still lived in Colorado, and I know that you do not arrive as the person that you were when you took off. Usually the person getting off of the plane is much more haggard, a little wiser, and either set back by or touched by humanity.

 

As a new mother, I had my first airplane adventure with Riley when she was three months old. Still new to the scene of motherhood, I hung on to a small amount of my dignity. I had the diaper bag packed with all the essentials, had my own carry-on with my essentials, and was in a generally cheery mood. Most of the passengers were mothers with their children, which I was happy to see. We were going to do just fine.The doors locked, the flight attendants went through their spiel, and we were cleared for takeoff. The front tire had barely left the runway when I felt a rumble. It was too early for turbulence, and unfortunately, I knew that type of rumble all too well. Then the smell hit. Yes, Riley had soiled her diaper at the most inopportune time. It takes about twenty to thirty minutes after takeoff to level out and for the “fasten seat belt” sign to turn off. I couldn’t muster the strength to look up at the other afflicted passengers during this waiting period. Even on a flight full of moms, I knew I would be hard-pressed to find a sympathizer who would overlook the stench she also had to endure. As soon as the flight attendants gave the signal, I made my way, eyes down, to change my little bundle’s bundle. It was my first taste of mom embarrassment. I arrived a little humbler.

Newly a toddler the next year, I was prepared for some embarrassing moments. By this time, I’d been through my share of them. I wasn’t prepared for the maddening adventure that ensued. This time, I was seated between two very busy, very self-important businessmen. If there wasn’t sympathy on the previous flight then there definitely wasn’t any now. Again seizing the opportunity, Riley did not waste a minute and began squirming, climbing, kicking, screaming, and lurching her tiny body in every direction. Keeping flailing toddler hands under control in that confined space is nothing short of a nightmare. My apologies fell on stony stares. Just when I thought I could not take anymore, the businessman to my right pulled out his laptop. A laptop. Riley’s kryptonite. She lost all control and lunged toward it, trying desperately to pound away at its keys. She spent the remainder of the flight completely sideways in my arms crying, reaching, and twitching her body every way she could. The businessman didn’t even look up. I swore never to fly again. I arrived a little harder.

 

The next trip, Riley was full swing into her toddler years. This time, my mom was visiting to help me move to Indiana. The day prior, my mom and I had packed up my entire house and loaded it onto the moving truck. The next morning, we were exhausted and very eager to get on our way. Getting to the airport, though, proved harder than it sounded. Our flight was at noon, so I scheduled a taxi to pick us up from my house by 9:30. It would give us plenty of time to get there, check in, and grab a bite before getting on the plane. As 9:40 rolled around, the taxi was nowhere to be found; 9:50, still no taxi. I was on the phone with dispatch by that time, and they regretfully informed me that in fact there was no taxi on the way. The request had been misplaced, and they would send another taxi. At 10:20, the taxi finally turtle taxishowed up, slowly hovering past each house looking for its destination. I ran to the bottom of the driveway, frantically waving my arms. Its reaction to my hurried call was less than quick. I rapidly explained that we needed to leave quickly and make it to the airport as fast as possible. This fell on deaf ears. There was not a fast bone in this taxi driver’s body. He reversed as if he were driving through molasses, and the pace did not increase much by the time he got to the highway. I made a fateful mistake of asking him if we would be charged for the fare due to the oversight about halfway to the airport. He diligently pulled over to the side of the highway to call dispatch. I was beside myself and desperately begged him while he chatted to please start driving again. Again, it fell on deaf ears. At that point, my mom and I were so stressed and fatigued that we couldn’t help but break down laughing. We eventually made it and still had about five minutes to spare and grabbed some McDonald’s for Ri before getting on the plane. Surprisingly, she sat and behaved like an angel the whole way. There is something to be said about the presence of a grandparent. I arrived a little more jovial.

With my past traveling-with-a-kid experience tucked safely in my memory, I will embark on this road trip fully intending to arrive. I won’t be fully the person I was when I left. I just hope that my sanity arrives with me.