Once upon a time, I had no children. My wife and I were living the good life as DINKs (Double Income, No Kids) and we traveled a lot. We were living in south Texas as so we would hop on a plane to visit family and friends, or fly off on an exotic vacation. (Skiing in Banff? Birding in Peru? Sure!) We racked up the frequent flyer miles, and even swung a first-class flight a time or two. Our biggest issue with traveling was finding a place to board the dog while we were away.
Not so much anymore.
Now we have a toddler. Shortly after the two pink lines on the pregnancy test announced his impending arrival, we made plans to move from Texas back to the East Coast, where the vast majority of our family lives. All of this primarily because there was something we knew that we desperately wanted to avoid with a small child:
Our son is three, and he’s been on a plane exactly once in his life. At the ripe old age of four months, he rode on my lap as we left our home in Texas behind and flew back east to start our new life. And that trip convinced me, if I’d had any doubts, that I would not be flying with a small child ever again, not if I could help it.
It started when I got on the plane and was promptly moved to not one, not two, but three different seats, because the airline somehow just couldn’t figure out the “right” seat on that tiny plane to have a new mother seated with her infant. Then there was the layover, hauling an infant (who was hungry and crying by that point) and a car seat laden with an overflowing diaper bag through the Houston airport as quickly as possible to try to catch a short connection. THEN, just as we were landing in Pittsburgh (so that don’t-even-think-of-getting-out-of-your-seat-even-if-you-think-you’re-dying light was on) my child’s diaper exploded. Poop everywhere, and me frantically stuffing wipes in the sides trying to hold in while we waited an eternity to exit the plane and book it to the nearest bathroom. Still hauling the danged car seat along behind me. If you have not yet had the pleasure of carrying a screaming infant with a diaper that’s dripping poop in one arm while dragging a very heavy piece of baby equipment behind you–I do not recommend it.
Now I’m pregnant again, and the exploding poop machine from that first plane ride is about to turn three. There are now a whole host of new reasons not to fly with him in tow, number one being that the child does.not.sit.still. The little red don’t-get-out-of-your-seat light will have absolutely no impact on a three-year-old, I assure you. And with another exploding poop machine due to arrive in May–yeah, mommies-and-me flight time is pretty much out of the question for the foreseeable future.
I’m not saying any of this to complain. I LOVE having a life that’s settled and happy on the east coast. There’s lots to do both with and without the kids, so we can totally do a trip to the children’s museum or a friend’s birthday party on Saturday morning, followed by mommies’ date night (with childcare provided by our AWESOME babysitter) that evening. We may not travel across the country or around the world anymore, but we still have a lot of fun.
Someday, I’m sure, we’ll fly again. When the kids are 7 and 10, or 8 and 11, or some other set of ages that makes sense, we’ll save up some money and do a big family trip. But for now, flying is expensive, not to mention a giant hassle, and so I’m happy to have fun at home with my little ones, while they’re still little. The airplanes, they can wait.