We’ve booked the flights and make the hotel reservations. We’re off to California in February. No, it’s not another trip to Napa for M and me, although that does sound delightful. This time, the three of us will be heading to San Diego.
We’ll be staying in the same hotel from our last visit, the trip when K was born. We’ll be doing a lot of the things we did the last time – Sea World, San Diego Zoo, the beach – and yes, we realize now those things are way more appropriate for a 14 year old than a newborn. What can I say? We were 3000 miles away from family and friends. We did the best we could, and we all survived. I consider that a success.
K isn’t sure if she wants to see the hospital, but as with most everything on this trip, it’s her call. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to see it either. Yes, I clearly remember walking out of that hospital with the world’s greatest gift. Yet I can never forget the girl, not much older than my K is now, who walked out with nothing. But, if K wants to go, we go. This is her trip, not mine.
We almost went last year but then the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando and that took precedence over San Diego. That decision sums up the place adoption holds in our lives now. K determines its frequency and importance and we respond accordingly. We’re a long way from the days when I obsessed over how to respond to people who told me K looked like me. Should I respond immediately that K was adopted? Should I wait til I get to know them better? Is a simple “thank you” appropriate?
Adoption is the way K joined our family. Although we are forever thankful for that, it does not define us. We will visit her birthplace and we will remember those terrified thirty-somethings who had waited forever and then become parents overnight. We will remember waking up in the hotel each morning relieved we had kept K alive for one more day. We will remember the flight back home with a two-week old. And we will remember how we become the awesome family that we are.
Waiting to get on a plane at Reagan National Airport last week, I listened to a TED Talk given by Ric Elias. Ric was one of the passengers on Flight 1549, the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in 2009. His brief, moving talk describes what went through his mind during the landing and the lessons he learned from that experience (if you have 5 minutes, click on the link and listen). Perhaps a plane crash wasn’t the best pre-flight topic choice but the lessons he shared were well worth hearing: “I no longer try to be right. I choose to be happy.” “Above all, the only goal I have in life is to be a good dad.”
Thankfully, I’ve never had a plane experience that comes close to Elias’ but several flights and their lessons came to mind after hearing his. First, was the flight my husband M and I took home from California with 13 day old baby K. We had just survived 12 days and nights in a hotel room. Most significantly K had survived while in the care of two terrified adults 3000 miles away from anyone they knew. We now all needed to get through the 6 hour flight home. M and I created a precise timeline with tasks and responsibilities. We discussed how we would handle the rental car drop off. We discussed the check-in process in detail. We discussed our pre-boarding and seat assignment strategies. We stuck to our plan and K did her part by sleeping most of the way. The plane touched down at Logan and we were home.
I took away two lessons from that flight. Lesson #1 – With enough proper planning, one can avoid all problems while traveling with a small child. (See next flight for just one example of that lesson’s flaws.) Lesson #2 – I chose very wisely in marrying my husband.
When K was 1, we flew to Florida to visit my mother-in-law. In compliance with our master planning list, we gave K milk in a bottle to alleviate any pressure on her ears during takeoff. We tried this again on the return trip but takeoff was delayed. She drank a bottle before we left and then another one during takeoff. A short while later, I took K towards the bathroom to change her diaper. I was about halfway there when my senses were suddenly and dramatically assaulted. There was the collective gasp from the people in the rows around us, the sound of liquid splattering all over the floor, the wetness on my back. I turned and took in the scene – the recently consumed milk on the floor, on shoes, on pant legs, the horrified looks on people’s faces, and it must be said – the smell. M watched this all unfold from his seat but within seconds was beside us saying “what can I do, what can I do?” He helped the flight attendant clean up the mess while I cleaned up K and me in the bathroom. Walking past everyone to our seats gave new meaning to “the walk of shame.”
That flight provided me with three lessons. Lesson #1 – There is no such thing as proper planning while traveling with a small child. (I was learning.) Lesson #2 – Strangers should be grateful if all a baby has done to disrupt a flight is cry the whole way. Lesson #3 – I absolutely chose wisely in marrying my husband.
(Posted on behalf of Twin Mom Plus One)
As I sit here in the passenger seat on our way to the airport, my mind is racing and adrenaline pumping. I sit thinking of the past two weeks of trip preparation, as well as our upcoming vacation cross country.
Prep work: coordinating the trying on the twins’ summer clothes in between episodes of Phineas and Ferb, realizing that JJ wore slims while Bruiser is built like a tank…..guess hand-me down concept didn’t fare very well, hand-me downs for Princess was more successful however once she was all packed she decided to pull out an outfit that was already in the suitcase (bottom of the suitcase), JJ was a breeze…gave him a list and he packed himself albeit 2 of the 4 Shirts were permantly stained and 1 of the 3 shorts were too small, the dog was easy to get ready for his vacation at nana and papa’s house- as long as we don’t think about the diarrhea that he came down with a few days ago. Ok…almost at the airport….considering day of traveling, TSA checkpoints, rental car lines etc. Need a vacation from my vacation and haven’t even stepped into the airport. OY!