When I offered to pick my two year old up from Houston on Monday and fly her home by myself so my husband could go straight to a work conference, I must have been on drugs. And I really should have saved those drugs because I could have used them to calm myself at the airport when the United gate agent informed me that they no longer allow people traveling with small children to board early.
Traveling with a toddler is no joke, people. Especially when lugging a car seat, two carry on bags, a plethora of snacks and beverages, and, oh yeah- a 30-pound TODDLER. Nothing was going my way- our gate was the farthest possible from security, I almost lost our boarding passes (twice), if I wasn't holding Alexa in my arms, she was licking the walls (oh, and the floor too), and I couldn't figure out how to get the carseat off the wheelie thingamajig so I sweat and swore on the jetway while my daughter tried to run onto the plane solo. Once on board, I was made to feel like a leper simply for asking a stewardess to show me the right way to attach the carseat, and for the next four hours, Alexa didn't so much as close her eyes. We watched Peppa Pig 20 times, ate snacks and threw toys. Several times, I was forced to balance myself precariously on her carseat so that Alexa could lounge in the "big chair" and laugh in my face while doing so.
Things didn't improve after landing- I will spare you (and myself) the details- but to sum it up, an overtired two year old does not a good travel buddy make. I told my friends via text at one especially tense moment that I was going to go home, curl up in a ball, cry, and then tie my own tubes with my bare hands. (I have always had a flair for the dramatic, in case you didn't know.)
But now, as I look back on it, I can't help but be disappointed with myself. Alexa was in a silly, cheerful mood most of the day- enjoying the escalators, the on-board TV, the reactions of strangers when she flashed her smile. I, on the other hand, was so focused on my misery, I didn't allow myself to see the fun moments that we could have had, a little twosome navigating the big scary skies together. It was an adventure- granted, one I will never do again- and if I had just let myself see it as such, we both would have probably fared better.
This seems to be a theme of my life as a mom, and something to work on for the future. Because yes, I know, toddler time is short, and one day, I will miss watching Alexa lick airport floors.
(Note: I don't want to use my blog as a platform for ranting, but I must state that United Airlines should be ashamed of themselves. Flying with a toddler is daunting- but even more so when are doing it alone. For me, this was a one-time thing, but I imagine that for many single parents out there, it is the norm. Not allowing a parent to board early with a toddler is evil- the stress level is already off the charts, why make it worse? Helping a harried mom install a car seat properly (without muttering under your breath how annoyed you are to be doing it) wouldn't kill anyone either. Oh- and if a mom is already clearly on the verge of tears when checking luggage and asks for a Priority sticker on her bags so that she didn't have to spend hours at baggage claim well past bedtime? Empower yourself to do it, grumpy lady behind the ticket counter. Because it really isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things for United, but for this mom, at that moment, it would have meant everything.)