Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Okay. I can do this.

I’m trying to think of this as a rite of passage – something every mother must do at some point, although I’m not sure why. Maybe because it sounds like a good idea at the time. Or maybe because we’re all gluttons for punishment. In any case, the time has come for my toddler and me to fly across the country. By. Our. Selves.

In less than three weeks, I’m taking my fifteen month old son on a flight from California to Michigan all by myself. As much as I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends, I’m dreading the journey. It will be a twelve-hour ordeal, door-to-door. Pray for me.

We’ve flown with Quinn before, once to Michigan and once to Hawaii, and he was an absolute angel on both trips. He was also a baby that still nursed, so anytime he got fussy, I just stuck him on the boob and everyone was happy. On this trip, we don’t have that luxury.

Like any over-achiever worth her salt, I’ve been doing my homework. I’ve read a bazillion posts from other brave bloggers who have attempted similar feats. I’ve surveyed numerous experienced mommy-friends. I’ve posted questions on several online groups and forums. I’ve begged for advice via Twitter and Facebook. I’ve collected all the generous responses into a Google document.

And I’ve completely overwhelmed myself.

As soon as I think I’ve thought of everything, I think of something else, and then I have a little internal freak-out. In a way, I’m faced with the same conundrum as any traveler – you don’t want to over-pack and be loaded down with too much crap, but you want to be prepared with anything you may need.

Multiply that dilemma by a million, and that’s a mom flying alone with her toddler.

I decided that my main goal for the day will be to remain sane, and if that means throwing all my usual rules and schedules out the airplane window, then so be it.

For example, Quinn can eat all the snacks he wants on the flight. I’ll have some his favorites and some new snacks that I hope he will go bananas over (i.e., Goldfish crackers).

I’m also willing to buy his happiness. I have a few new toys for the airplane, including a Magna Doodle. I hope that if he doesn’t see these toys for the entire week we’re in Michigan, they’ll be new again for the plane ride home.

Q can also watch as much TV as the tablet battery will allow. Hubs has Q's favorite shows and some new apps cued up and ready to go. (Thank you, honey! Muah!)

The kid who won't wear a hat or sunglasses for more than
1.2 seconds loves his new Kidz Gear headphones

There are several moments I’m already dreading. For example, how will I fold up the stroller in the security line without Quinn getting away? Gate-checking the stroller is a must, so do I try to wear him in the carrier? Will I be able to fold up the stroller with him attached to me? Can I wear him through security, or will TSA pat us down if I do that? I don’t want them touching me, and I really don’t want them touching Q.

Quinn’s just starting to walk, so I don’t know how to let him get his wiggles out without letting him crawl around in the airport. The germophobe in me goes ape shit in these situations anyway, so the thought of Q’s hands touching anything makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

I’m also a cheap ass, so I didn’t buy Q his own seat. I’m going to have to hold a squirmy toddler on my lap all freaking day with no one to pass him off to when I need a break. (Oh shit, how am I going to pee? Dammit, here comes another internal freak-out…)

What about his ears during take-off and landing? He doesn’t nurse anymore, and I have a hard time making him drink from his sippy cup when he doesn’t want to. Someone recommended giving him a lollipop, but then I had visions of a piece of it breaking off and choking him to death. (Another internal freak-out.)

I also have no idea how I’m going to pack all our stuff into one suitcase and still keep it under 50 pounds. With Quinn and our carry-on, I can’t wield more than one checked bag by myself. I’m going to have to resist the urge to over-pack. But I don’t want to spend the whole week doing laundry either. Bleh.

On a positive note, I’m flying Southwest, so I can pick my seat. My hope is that the flights will not be full and no one will want to sit next to the lady with the toddler. Then we can have at least one more empty seat to work with. That would be the shiz! (Is it wrong to hope Q cries the whole time we’re boarding and then is an angel for the rest of the flight?)

I know many of you have braved the same endeavor and lived to tell about it. Please tell me, mommas, what worked for you and your toddler when flying solo? Also give me your measurements so I can fit you for your “Bravest Mother in the Universe” sash.