Have Kids, Will Travel

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I do a lot of traveling with the kids. I suppose it’s a function of having my heart in two places, of straddling the country to make my family feel whole. So here we are in Ontario again, and this time I made the cross-country trip alone with the kids. It was my first time traveling alone with all three, and it went way better than I expected; even though I generally dislike the upset of travel, once we’re through security I tend to take a “que sera, sera” approach. Flight delayed? Oh well, not much I can do. Kids walking at a snail’s pace? People can go around. I wish I was better at applying this to the rest of my life. There’s something about being trapped in an airport that invites surrender, at least it does for me.

Something that really struck me on this trip, and maybe it’s because I was the crazy lady traveling alone with three small children, is the way parents look out for other parents in this situation more than in any other. On our flight from Whitehorse to Vancouver, a woman pacing the aisle trying to settle her baby stopped to offer her husband’s help to me if I needed it. In the Vancouver airport, when all three kids fell asleep just 20 minutes before boarding our (delayed) 11pm flight (can’t blame them) a business woman traveling alone offered to help me any way she could. It’s my way to turn down help at every chance, of course, because people obviously don’t actually want to help (haha) but I literally could not get all three sleeping children onto the plane alone. So she wheeled Aedan in the umbrella stroller while I carried the other two, and then when we had to check the stroller, she carried Aedan to our seat. As we wove our way together down the narrow aisle, she told me that her youngest two were twins, so she understood what it was to have too few hands for a task. I thanked her and she disappeared into business class. As I sat between my sleeping boys, Charlotte asleep in my lap, a man stopped by our row. “How are yours? My kids are still awake! It’s so late! Where’s the Ativan when you need it?” We laughed together and I wished him luck. At every stop, it seemed there was a sympathetic parent ready to help. It warmed my heart, and I know that if I’m every a business lady traveling alone, I’ll go out of my way to help any and every frazzled, struggling parent I can.

Parenting littles is hard. Traveling with them is harder. Let’s look out for each other!

Image via Flickr user Yuichi Yasuda

Dig In

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Four days of intense travel. A total of 10 hours on the road, 4 and a half hours in airplanes, an hour in a taxi. Hours spent in hotel rooms, trying to keep 3 little kids entertained in such a small space.

Taking them to a park in Vancouver where the ground was squishy mud, Aedan getting his boots full of puddle water just 2 hours before his appointment at the diabetes clinic. Me, most unprepared parent ever, even after 5 years of parenting, not having a spare pair of shoes for him. Drying his boots out in the hotel bathroom with the hair dryer.

P and I switching off for the appointments: he and Aedan first while I try to get Charlie to nap, Treehouse keeping Colm quiet, sort of. Then my turn: taking an unhappy 3 year old to his appointment with the allergist. 2 hours in a room at the clinic, giving his history to a resident. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting in that little room to finally have a chat with the Doctor. Forms signed, skin test finally completed, we’re free.

Walking to the Japanese restaurant in the rain, the server not understanding my requests for plain tofu for my allergic son, getting the battered tofu…ordering endless sides of rice, rice dumped on the floor, imagined side-eye from the mom with the calm kids at the table next to us. Impatient husband. Octopus baby in my lap. In the highchair. Back in my lap. Repeat for 4 days.

Crying baby in the truck, she hates the car seat. Puking baby, I don’t know why. Roadside stops to pee. Roadside stops to clean up puke.

The herd of elk just south of Braeburn Lake. Stopping the truck so the boys could get their fill of the animals nosing through the thin layer of snow, tearing at dried grass with teeth, totally unconcerned by our presence.

The two linx P and I saw playing at the side of the road near Tintina Trench. They ducked into the ditch before the boys could spot them, before I could wrestle my phone from the baby to snap a photo. Some things are meant to be experienced fleetingly. All things, maybe.

Tumbling back into our reality, except it’s all our reality, isn’t it? Back to work, back to school. Fighting about school. Wrestling him into his clothes. Mindlessly eating. Pulling myself back. What do I need to do on these days when I Google hopeless things like “how to survive when you hate being a parent”? Google can’t tell me. You can’t tell me. Only I can. Only I know. Come back to the breath. Go easy on myself. Get outside for a moment. Write. Right here, write. Read a poem. Root deeper when you want to run away.

Dig in, because this is it.