I am a veteran traveler. When I was working corporate, especially at the point in which I joined the company, I was on the go a ton. Granted, I’m no crazy road warrior salesman on the road 80% of the time peddling my wares in every one horse town buffeted by “Resume Speed” signs, but I earned Silver status in United’s Premier program for 3 years, and probably was on the road in some form or fashion five days out of any month.
I know what I’m doing, and I do it with remarkable efficiency and assertiveness. This is doubly true when you compare me against your average leisure traveler who has a knack for stopping right in the middle of the airport thoroughfare blocking everyone’s path while they stare, mouth agape, shoulders slumped, at the glowing Departures/Arrivals board as if they’re trying to remember how to read English.
I am, however, new to traveling with a baby, and that feels akin to going from playing beer league softball to digging into the box while Clayton Kershaw stares you down.
Kristin and I took our daughter to meet her great grandmother in Chicago last weekend. Our seven month-old baby was the hit of the retirement home, and Great Grandma was thrilled to meet the youngest and newest addition to the family. Some of my favorite photos of all time ensued this weekend.
And while the trip out to Chicago was near perfect and basically without incident, the trip home was something else entirely.
Babies, by necessity, come with a lot of gear. Toys, diapers, food, car seats, strollers, extra changes of clothes, I think we packed a portable foundry just in case the baby got bored and felt like forging some cast iron… I mean the list goes on and on. So, in addition to packing your suitcase with 75% more stuff than usual (thankfully baby clothes are small), let’s add a few conflicting factors for the trip home:
- Rain – and lots of it
- Parents who have gone full hipster
- While visiting my aunt and uncle, we found this old box of 7″ records that we just couldn’t live without, and decided to haul it home.
- We’re beer geeks, so we brought home four bombers of obscure (to Colorado, anyway) craft brews, as well as two bottles of weird barbecue sauce we found at Old Orchard Mall.
- Elevated trains that aren’t necessarily equipped with elevators
- And, oh yeah, a hell of a lot more rain
On the way to the airport, we hit Revolution Brewing for lunch and beer samples. This was a great decision, and one I’m still happy with considering the excellent food and superb beers we had, despite Kristin having to haul roughly 50 lbs of baby, stroller and carseat up three flights of stairs to the train to the airport while I had my backpack and our two suitcases weighing in at about 100 lbs. The way I look at it, we burned off the beers on those steps.
Where things got complicated is when we got to the airport. Our flight, originally scheduled for 5:35, ended up delayed until 7:19. No big deal, right? Well, then it was delayed until well past 8:00 pm. Then after 9:00. Then 10:00. Thanks to some brilliant finagling by my mother, we switched flights to a 9:00 pm one. That flight lacked a 3rd flight attendant for some never explained reason, and we ended up not taking off until after 10:30. Normally this would be annoying, but ultimately not a big deal.
But, right, we’ve got this little person under our care who doesn’t know why she can’t sleep, why she has to stare at the fluorescent lights while she eats, and wonders where in creation we are.
Amazingly, she handled the whole ordeal like a champ and experienced only one minor meltdown all day. We loaded her onto the plane where she promptly passed out on my lap and slept the whole flight. She seemed to take the whole thing in stride, which is remarkable because she’s a baby and she could have just decided to be pissed off about it, and let everyone know that all day. But she didn’t, and I didn’t think I could love my baby more than I already do. But hey, a little good humor goes a long way.
It was definitely more stressful for Kristin and me, and we both joked about how funny it is to think about how angry we used to get about travel setbacks when we were younger. Having the perpetual Sword of Damocles of a baby meltdown hanging over your head definitely puts your previous short temper and pettiness in perspective.
Thank God we have such a good baby.