Posts Tagged ‘ airport ’

Can They Parent Without Me?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The week before last a tragedy hit my extended family. The loss has been tremendous. But throughout the grieving process, you find moments of humor. Something my mother-in-law said to me is one of them.

We were leaving her house after Emmett’s baptism, heading to the airport. Phil was taking the kids home on his own while I went on to South Dakota. I was rushing around in a panic, telling Phil everything he had to remember to do for the kids while I was away. I was calling Cleo, explaining everything to her as well (as if she isn’t there every day already. Hello control freak!).

We got in the car and I turned to his mom and said, “Whew. This is going to be hard. I hope Cleo and Phil will be okay on their own.” To which she replied, (and yes, I’m putting this in bold), “You know what is really hard? When you come back and realize they’ve held it together just fine without you.” AAAHHHHH. Eh. She was obviously speaking from her own experience and we both burst out laughing. Thing is, she was absolutely right.

I am happy to report that I got home and my kids, my husband, my house, even my cat–were all unscathed. Thriving in fact.

It feels good to know we can laugh again, even in the worst of times.

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Baby’s First Not-So-Cute Milestone: Diaper Rash

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I’ve just jumped over another hurdle—one involving a nasty diaper rash (hers, not mine)–I need to add a crucial item to have on hand: Cornstarch. But don’t follow my example on how to use it. Here’s why:

In the past two weeks I feared arrest. Twice. Not because I was a bad mom. In fact, just the opposite. I felt so bad for the little munchkin and her red bum. I carefully applied the creams, but the diaper rash wasn’t going away as quickly as I hoped, so I added cornstarch into the mix. Apparently you sprinkle it in the diaper and it absorbs moisture. But “sprinkle” clearly isn’t in my vocabulary.

I should pause here and say I have a tendency to overdo certain things.  Like if someone tells me a wrinkle cream will get rid of crows feet, I compulsively apply half the bottle at once, hoping for a miracle.

On our way into the city to refinance our apartment, I dumped probably a quarter of a box of cornstarch in her diaper (my rationale is the diaper is white, so I can’t see how much goes in). Three subway trains and a 4-block walk later, I knew she desperately needed to be changed.

Already late to the appointment on the 23rd floor of a posh bank building, I dashed into the bathroom (no changing table. Damn, hate it when that happens), quickly put a mat on the floor and ripped off the diaper. Cornstarch went flying. I mean everywhere. It turned me, Fi, diaper bag and surrounding area into a blanket of white.  I prayed no one would walk in. I began picturing the FBI, my arrest and subsequent headline: Mom Spreads Anthrax While Baby Battles Diaper Rash. I tried scooping the massive excess off the floor with a paper towel, but it didn’t make a dent. The bathroom looked like a blizzard had hit.  I conceded defeat and walked into the conference room, looking like we had both jumped into a giant silo of flour. I apologized profusely to the woman who was kind enough to promise she wouldn’t call the authorities.

A few days later we were at LaGuardia, about to fly to Wisconsin, where my father in law (an Episcopalian Priest, nicknamed “Rev”) was baptizing the babe. I dumped a bunch of cornstarch in her diaper (clearly I’m a slow learner), got through security, and had to change her. The bathroom was tiny so I went to an empty gate. Out came the plume. Seriously?? How bad is my short-term memory? This time I envisioned the TSA coming after me. They would lock me up. We’d miss her baptism. I’d be condemned by all who know me. Panicked, I tried to rub it into the dark blue carpet as best I could. No luck. I needed an industrial vacuum. Or an escape plan.  I grabbed Fi and fled the scene.  We boarded the plane, and at 30,000 feet breathed a big sigh of relief (actually she slept).  And, the next day, the diaper rash was clear.  Maybe there’s something to compulsively using cornstarch??

A Must Have!The baptism was a breeze. After it was over, she looked at me with her impish little grin, as if to say, “Mom, this is nothing. Relax. You already baptized me twice— in cornstarch.”

So my tip to you moms who battle diaper rash: Cornstarch. Put it in the nest. Just don’t follow my lead. Now it’s your turn. What works for you? What are the things you can’t live without?

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What Travel Does For Me…And Fi

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Before I had Fia, travel was my lifeblood. It sustained me, gave me purpose and left me humbled. No matter how harried or remote the trip, I would always come back grateful for having gone; for having left my comfort zone and experienced life a different way. It never let me down.

From the moment we started dating, Phil and I were on the same page. We wanted big careers and a life of globetrotting. We implicitly agreed that kids weren’t going to be part of our equation. To make a long story short, it was upon our return from Mali, West Africa a few Christmas’s ago that we realized maybe life wasn’t all about exploring the next country. Maybe it was about creating and adding more to the life we had here. And perhaps in the process, god-willing, raise a good child who would do good things.

So now we have Fi. And my globetrotting consists of taking her to Kidville for wiggle-giggle, keeping her from getting mangled by the cat or falling on the steps, and all the other joys that go along with parenthood.  And I dig it. Far more than getting my passport stamped. But now I am realizing I can have both. No need to choose.

When I took a trip to Belize a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if I’d be homesick and heartbroken leaving Fi. Turns out I was neither, but unlike other trips, I didn’t want to race off to another country or adventure before returning home. Five days was the perfect amount of time and just enough to make me feel alive again in my travel shoes.

It was also important for me to know that Fia could survive without me for that short time. In fact, I had my blackberry all programmed to send and receive texts, thinking I’d torture my sitters hourly. No such luck. (I’m sure they were quite saddened). We were 3 hours away from the airport in the middle of the rainforest. And once I accepted the reality that there would be NO SIGNAL, I immersed myself in all the joy and empowerment that travel brings to my life.

(Once a day I borrowed someone’s computer at the lodge in exchange for a drink and did a quick check of email. Click here to see what was happening on the home front.)

On the drive to Black Rock Lodge we passed little villages, roadside stands, and fruit and vegetable peddlers. We saw people walking along the side of the road, and waiting for the bus (many don’t own cars).  Just day-to-day activity. Life. But it was that, and things as simple as billboards and store signs that re-ignited something dormant in me.  It’s different. It fascinates. It stimulates.

Once there, we were truly in the wilderness, at a place that is completely self-sustaining, meaning they generate their own electricity and grow their own food. Check out the website to see how they do it. (Luckily they do bring in alcohol and had a fully stocked bar).

One of the women who worked the reception desk was 8-months pregnant. She had a lively spirit. Good juju. She was married to one of the managers and they live in a cabin on the property.

“How are you going to get to the hospital when you go into labor?” I asked, barely able to mask my alarm (the 7-mile road off the main highway is barely that—it could better be described as a rocky, pockmarked bike path).

She shrugged and said, “Well, hopefully I’ll labor here for awhile, and we’ll leave in time to get to the hospital.”

Of course.  What is wrong with me? I’m rusty. I had to pinch myself to remember that most of the world isn’t privy to weekly ultrasounds, hospitals within five minutes and the insistence on getting a “private bed” after delivery. By most standards, Belize is up there. She had had an ultrasound (they’re having a girl. Congrats!). And they do have the capability to perform C-sections, etc.  So while it’s different, (and I think fair to say, more bare-bones) it’s not without modern amenities.

As I hear the whir of my washer, I laugh at how good—no, I shouldn’t say good, that’s relative—about how easy I have it. In Belize, this is what we passed one day.

Baby in a Bucket

Baby in a Bucket

It’s brilliant in that it reminds me why travel is so crucial to my life. It snaps me out of my mom-self world and into one where Exersaucers, bottle sanitizers and wipe warmers aren’t part of the vocabulary. I need to make sure I never lose that perspective or become so self-absorbed that my awareness for the bigger picture disappears.

My hope is that when Fia is a little older, she’ll understand why occasionally Mom needs the adrenaline rush that comes from setting foot in unfamiliar territory. And I hope she’ll want to strap a bag on her back, take my hand, and go crossing borders with me. I bet she’ll love it as much I do.

Quick Update: Before I left, I wrote about how worried I was that Fia would miss me. I’m happy to report that she didn’t! As for that magical reunion when I thought she’d squeal with delight? Well, that didn’t happen either. I got home late and picked her up out of her crib. She looked at me, blinked, and then fell back asleep. The next morning (at 6 a.m.), my grand entrance was met with her usual crib stance, hands out, calling for the cat. Seriously. Wayne Sanchez even trumps me when I go on vacation.

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Travel Fiasco–My Scattered Self

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

I swear something happened after the birth of my child that has affected my brain circuitry.  Lord knows I want to be a good mom. I try and multitask with my husband, baby and job but…

3 WEEKS AGO…

–I took our cat, Wayne Sanchez, to the vet and paid $300 to find out he is still obese (He barely fits in his Sherpa bag). Then I ran errands. The next day my keys were missing. For nearly a week I searched while pretending nothing was amiss. After pressing our apartment buzzer every time I came home, Phil asked me to fess up. Then he said I need to focus more. True. I need to be more aware. True.

Wayne Sanchez and his co conspirator

Wayne Sanchez and his co conspirator

To redeem myself, I took a time out and sat in a quiet corner. I tried to retrace my steps, mentally. Wayne rubbed against me -boom! I had it, the Sherpa bag! I felt like I had just won the Pulitzer Prize for Missing Things. I called Phil on his cell and shouted, “I FOUND THEM IN WAYNE’S FAT CAT CARRIER!” “Um, okay, I’m in a meeting.” He wasn’t nearly as excited as I was.

2 WEEKS AGO…

–I was really trying to stay focused; I wanted Phil to see my improvement. We went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and, whilst in the tropics room, he asked me to hold his Ray-bans. Instead of putting them in the diaper bag, I made what I thought was an intelligent decision… I held them so I didn’t accidentally crush them in the bag—something I’ve done before. I was smitten with myself. We walked outside and he asked for them. I looked into my hands – they had vanished. Poof! Just like that.

“A palm tree must have plucked them from my palm,” I said, attempting to joke.

Sigh. I went back into the jungle and crawled on all fours, searching Bougainvillea’s and Bromeliad’s to many a strange look. Nothing. If anyone goes there and finds them in the foliage, please let me know.

1 WEEK AGO…

–I blew so many fuses in my brain that I needed a circuit breaker. We were at the airport, checked in and at our gate. I went to change our seats while Phil watched Fi. The counter agents had me leave our boarding passes for them to work on. I went to sit down and Phil said, “you’re being paged.” Huh?

Before he could spit out the next line – Now what did you lose? – I bolted. Think. Think. Think. What. What? What? I had my laptop. Fia was accounted for. I looked in my purse. OH MY GOD. MY WALLET IS MISSING. My bolt turned into a sprint. At security they said it wasn’t their page, that I must have left it at check-in.  I got to the counter, hunched over, gasping for air. “I’m the o-o-n-one wh-wh-who left my wallet.” As I said this I realized I was holding half a bottle of formula. No clue why. It just added to the absurdity of it all.  The agent told me another worker had already taken the wallet to my gate.

As I began to run back to security, I stopped dead in my tracks. I turned towards the agents and frantically wailed: “I don’t have my ID to get through! My flight leaves in 20 minutes.”

They must have taken pity on me, because a very kind, calm agent took me by the arm.  “I’ll help you honey. It’s hard being a mom,” she said, as she glanced at the seemingly random half full baby bottle. We cut to the front of the line and she explained to TSA the problem. They asked for my boarding pass. Time once again stood still as the realization hit me: MY BOARDING PASS IS AT THE GATE. My entire torso began gesturing towards D-15. I was nearly hysterical. As my arms waved madly, formula began to bounce out of the bottle, spraying others – I swore I heard one woman say, “She needs a Xanax.” They called TSA supervision. I whimpered my pathetic situation to them, and they let me through.

I sprinted to the gate counter past a bewildered Phil and into the arms of yet another kind agent who was standing there—smiling– with my wallet.  Dripping in sweat and panting, I tried to explain all that had happened. “Slow down and breathe,” she said, “Motherhood is hard – Just don’t forget your baby!”

I dejectedly walked back to my family. “What the hell is going on?” Phil asked.

I begged, “Don’t be mad at me. You have to promise. Even they (gesturing towards the agents) said being a mom is hard.”

Fia, obviously unaffected by Mom's commotion
Fia, obviously unaffected by Mom’s commotion

“Okay, okay, just calm down. You’re kind of making a scene,” he said. True again.

“I left my wallet at check-in.” If my head had hung any lower it would have hit the filthy floor of LaGuardia.

He patted my leg. Fia hugged me, then bit my knee and laughed.  I began to breathe. We boarded. I collapsed into my seat and slept the entire time.

YESTERDAY…..

– I didn’t lose anything.

TODAY…..

– So far so good.

LOOKING AHEAD….

–I booked a woman’s yoga retreat this winter. In Belize. My justification: I need to learn to focus. Phil didn’t buy it, but he did give me his blessing (He probably needs the break). It will be my first trip away from Fi, so at least I know I won’t lose her.

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