I’m having the best Week 18 ever. We’re in New England on holiday with my folks who are visiting from Scotland. We’re leaf-peeping, cupcake-eating, pumpkin spotting and laughing.
Oh the joy of having an extra six hands around! I keep getting ordered by Mum to put my feet up and I’m obliging. Mums know best after all...
While they’re here we’re planning our trip back to the UK in December for the holidays. The flights are booked, reservation numbers are in and there’s no going back.
The fact I’m contemplating air travel again after the last flight – the one when baby Eliza and I left our life in Scotland for the USA eight months ago - shows time really is a healer. I keep reminding myself that this trip will be different. I’ll have husband N with me for starters and I’ll be sporting a hefty baby bump which should afford me some empathy from fellow travellers if Eliza decides to try on her favourite new outfit – the tantrum.
Thousands had gone before me in braving the frontier of air travel alone with a baby but as our departure date approached back in February, trepidation mounted. Mum reassured me of course and her wise words were warming as I faced crossing the Atlantic with my then eight-month-old: “People will be falling over themselves to help a woman travelling alone with a baby – and the air hostesses will be wonderful.”
We did of course survive the trip but rather than recount our flying adventures, I thought I’d put my experience to good use by compiling an essential list for Single Travelling Parents....
1) Cry going through passport control. Whimper when asked if you’re travelling alone with infant and make guttural noises indicating you’re too emotionally choked to speak. If you’re like me, you may not even have to pretend. When you’re then fast-tracked to the front of the bag-check line, politely acknowledge person you’re put before – their face will be the most sucked-lemon-like of the 53+ other people you’ve just sped past to the front.
2) Don’t be overly concerned when once aboard the aircraft, air hostess eyeballs you with flailing-limb infant and three bags and instead of offering her arms for assistance, manages a lukewarm ‘Good Morning.’
3) Try not to panic when after seating yourself, your Two Flight Neighbours come aboard and regard you, your infant and their seats with what can only be described as sheer contempt.
4) Don’t expect to exchange pleasantries with the Two Flight Neighbours even once. When you apologise for having to step over them to walk with infant for the umpteenth time, don’t even expect an acknowledgement.
5) If infant’s bassinet collapses on one side while they’re in it, don’t panic. Hold it in position while air hostess fidgets with some gadget, muttering about how old and outdated all the equipment is now.
6) Don’t worry if infant only sleeps for an hour of your seven hour trip. Fill time with stories, snacks and trips up and down the aisle. When struggling to get back to your seat with another bag, while being careful not to bang your infant’s head, don’t be riled when air hostess fails to offer assistance but instead tells you to watch Flight Neighbours’ feet. Be grateful she’s at least considering someone on the flight.
7) Ensure your infant times a poopy nappy just as the plane comes in for landing. It will mean your Two Flight Neighbours will scramble like drowning vermin from the aircraft first and you have a spare seat to place infant while you unpick the regurgitated offerings of baby snacks now woven into your sweater.
8) Don’t believe everything mothers tell you....