You’ll never guess where I am as I sit and type this, completely uninterrupted with a pleasant white noise humming in the background and my water bottle and a few snacks sitting at my feet. I’m on a plane…(drumroll, please)…and I am all by myself! On Friday I flew direct from Denver to New York City for a quick trip and it’s the first time I have flown without a child in over nine years.
Living in Colorado but having all of our extended family and childhood friends on the East Coast means we have spent a lot of time flying back and forth across the country. Those with family closer by might do extended road trips, like I remember as a child. Several times a year we would drive from Vermont to Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey to visit family and spend anywhere from two to four to eight hours in the car. Since I’ve been lucky enough to be a stay home and do some free-lance work writing from the comfort of wherever I can set my computer, I’ve been able to travel quite a bit—as long as I bring the kids with me. Over the years that has gone from one infant, to a toddler and an infant, to a six year old, a toddler and an infant, and so on and so on.
This weekend was my first weekend flying alone has been rather unreal. My luggage is light, my carry-on practically empty and I’m appreciating every single minute of sitting alone in this cramped seat. My flight from Denver to New York was delayed about 35 minutes before finally taking off. I was practically giddy with delight that it was so easy. I found myself wanting to tell strangers how wonderful this experience was. “I don’t mind just sitting here on my computer, or reading (reading!!) or even just…sitting! It’s so RELAXING! And EASY! How could anyone ever complain about flying when they aren’t traveling with children?”
When I’m traveling with the kids, I usually spend a good deal of time bent at an unnatural angle with my head stuffed under the seat in front of me trying pull something out of my carry-on for Lauren, Kate or Cooper with one hand while the other holds onto whichever child is the current “lap baby.” I can get write this blog, I can snooze, and best of all, I can get up and use the restroom by myself without needing to nervously leave any children sitting alone for a few moments or worse, trying to cram them all into a dirty airplane bathroom with me all at once.
I was in New York for business (which is still sounds strange as I write it) doing some networking for my nonprofit Big Hearts Big Soles Inc. and I actually had the pleasure of bring shoes to the kids at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, New York. The faculty and students were friendly and welcoming and I got to hug a lot of new friends good-bye when I left. I met Nadia Lopez, the amazing principal of the school and even saw Vidal himself, dressed in a suit and tie, in person. Later that night, the friend from high school with whom I was staying, dragged me all around New York at night, to see the nights. At first I protested that I was a tired mom who needed to rest up before heading home to my children, but finally I gave in. I ended up feeling very grateful that I was able to walk around and marvel at a special place in our country, without worrying that I would lose one of my precious children if I focused on anything else for a moment.
On this flight back, I’m appreciating both the little things and the big things that I often take for granted. It’s so easy to do things without having all three of my kids being with me and I really appreciated being able to take a two night break. But I also miss them and I can’t wait to see their smiling faces in a few more hours and to wrap my arms around them and give them big hugs. As a stay at home mom, who often feels so busy and overwhelmed by parenting, that I feel like I can’t enjoy my children the way I think I am supposed to, this trip has been a gift to me in many ways.
Have you traveled without your children recently? How did you feel on your first time away from home?