This I believe: boarding three airplanes and traveling for twenty hours with a ten month old (who once being on the airplane decided she doesn’t like baby food anymore) and an exhausted two year old is an act of love that binds families together. This October with my infant on my lap and a talkative curly haired little girl, I flew from Detroit to Budapest to spend a week with my sister and her family. When I told people about our trip, most gave me the “you’re crazy” look and I thought they may be right. My parents came too, which was a great help, but weren’t always seated near us. So there I sat; trying to read Angelina Ballerina to one child while scrambling to find food for the other in hopes of keeping them quiet, in turn to keep everyone around us happy. I would pray for the fasten seatbelts sign to turn off so I can stand and rock the baby hoping she would stop crying. At one point, a kind European teenager leaned over the seat to pass a piece of hard candy to help quiet her. I smiled and put it in my pocket. Before each landing I would kick our stuff under the seat in front in order to keep the flight attendants happy. Once the airplane doors were open, I would stumble down the aisle with baby in arms, toddler running ahead, and three overstuffed carry-ons bouncing between seats. We were all exhausted.
The trip home wasn’t any better. Again we dragged all the carry-ons and children aboard the transatlantic flight while trying to avert the eyes of other passengers that were saying, “Why in the world are you bringing those children on this eight hour flight?” You know the look; you’ve given it to other parents who have been on your flights. And parents of young children would take a “child only flight” if they existed. But they don’t and thus, we all fly together.
While the travel was something I would soon rather forget, the precious memories of time spent with my sister, her family, and my parents far exceed the nightmare of what had to be done to cross the miles between us. We didn’t often leave my sister’s house as there were ten of us but leaving the house wasn’t the point of our trip. We wanted to be together doing the day to day stuff we are missing by living so far apart. The kids played basketball, went for walks, made play dough snowmen, and looked forward to the McFlurry treats Grandma and Grandpa would buy after dinner. Over a 1000 digital pictures were taken; many currently plastered to my refrigerator.
When we left, tight hugs and promises to return quickly were exchanged. The last image of watching my sister waving as we made our way through airport security propels me forward to think about our next trip, travel notwithstanding. I would do it all again without hesitation. I believe that regardless of the effort, families must be together.
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