Yesterday four-month-old Cooper and I arrived back in Colorado after visiting my parents in Vermont. It was a much needed get-away for me, as I left five-year-old Lauren and three-year-old Kate at home with my husband. The last several times I have flown I have been alone with the two girls. Traveling with only one companion who could neither run away nor even talk seemed simple. The diaper bag seemed light with no need for snacks (except for myself), no DVD player with DVDs, no books and no toys–except for two small teething rings.
Since my flight from Colorado to Vermont happened eight days ago, this Mommy-Brain can’t remember it. So I’ll tell you about my return trip. I had spent almost seven days at my parents’ house without my daughters and husband. My college girlfriends came to visit and we had a No Children Girls’ Weekend. It was strange to go for so long without answering to the constant requests and demands of two little people and to be able to finish a conversation without being interrupted by a fight, a frantic call for help from the potty or a plea for a snack. I napped when the baby did and tried to unwind. It was my idea of heaven.
Our departure day arrived much too quickly, though I was more than ready to be reunited with my little family back in Colorado. The airport is an hour and a half from my parents’ house so we rose before the sun to leave and packed ourselves into the car. Cooper dozed during the ride to the airport and I chatted non-stop due to the very large cup of coffee that I was drinking.
When we got to the airport, my dad unloaded my luggage while I tucked Cooper into the baby carrier on my chest. I checked his car seat, stroller and my suitcase and with Cooper on my front and my diaper bag on my back, I trekked to security with my parents. We said our goodbyes and they kissed Cooper, knowing how much he would change before they saw him again in a few months.
When I got to the carry-on baggage scanner, I placed my backpack in a bin, took out my computer and put that in another bin and then slipped off my flip-flops and stuck them next to my backpack. When I looked up to get the “Ok” to walk through the metal detector with Cooper, the TSA agent shook his head. “You’ll have to take the baby out the carrier,” he told me. I sighed–annoyed but not surprised. The problem is that I need two hands to take off the baby carrier, which at home I accomplish by laying Cooper safely on the bed or couch. A grandmotherly woman in Denver had been more than happy to hold him for me while I went to great lengths to prove that I had smuggled neither contraband nor explosives under Cooper in the carrier. This time there was nary a friendly stranger in sight. In fact, there weren’t even any unfriendly looking strangers around. It was early and the small airport was fairly empty. “Well, can you hold him for me?” I asked the agent.
“Uh uh. We’re not allowed,” he replied curtly. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if I would have to place my baby on the floor. Then I wrangled Cooper out of the baby carrier, looked pointedly at the agent and placed him in a bin. The agents gasped and Cooper started to cry. Who could blame him? I then unbuckled the carrier, pulled it over my head and placed it into yet another bin. I picked up my son and marched through the metal detector with my head held high. On the other side, I repeated the process so that I could put the carrier back on and walked to my gate, muttering profanities under my breath.
What did I learn from this experience? Well, since traveling with children is now even harder than it used to be, improvisation is the key to success. Social norms be damned. The rest of the trip went smoothly despite a blowout and a few bouts of screeching. Would I do it again? You bet I would. Especially for more Mommy Vacation!