So I have been humming and hawing over going back to my home and native land, Canada for the last few months. It came to my attention that a particular family member (one who wishes to remain anonymous) is having surgery in October. I haven’t been ‘home’ since May of last year, and my heart kind of jumped when I got the news of this pending surgery. I really want to be home for it. I want to help this person recover and get back on their feet again. They don’t NEED me to be there, and it’s not a life or death surgery, but I know it will make a big difference in their life, and the life of others around them, and would be good to have some quality time together.
The last four trips for me have been me with my kids, sans hubby. That’s right people, you heard it directly from the horses mouth – I flew across the planet from Perth, Western Australia to Montreal, Canada, 21,000km, which for those of you who didn’t know, is the complete opposite side of the world; like if you dig a hole in my backyard here in Australia, and managed to go through the entire earth, you’d end up not far away from my parents place. Ok that’s not entirely true, you’ll end up in somewhere near Bermuda, but you get the idea. 34 hours of flying and stop overs (give or take). So yeah, I did that flight four times, in four years, with babies, on my own.
The first time I made the trek, my eldest daughter was a mere 8 weeks old, and honesty it was the easiest flight of the four. I just popped my boob out every time she woke and all was well in the world. People stopped me on the plane and said they would have never known there was a baby on board, which translated to me as ‘thank you for keeping her quiet’. She impressed everyone, including myself. I even got a little tour of Dubai on my 12-hour lay over. It was perfect.
The second time, was not long after. I was already pregnant with my youngest and my eldest was only 9 months. That time wasn’t so pleasant – I was nauseous and tired and dealing with teething upon arrival. Word to the wise, don’t fly long haul in economy pregnant with an infant on your own. It sucks.
Trip number 3 was both kids and just I… 18 months later. My eldest had just turned 2 and my youngest was nearly 1. Luckily a colleague of my husbands was sitting next to me on the way to Dubai (very random) and helped me quite a bit on the Perth to Dubai flight, as well as in Dubai on our stop over. He was lovely. The Dubai to New York leg however was God awful – worst service I’ve received on an international flight EVER. Anyway, I digress.
Trip four was last year and was an epic fail. I lost my voice and caught a bug on the plane. I had FULL laryngitis by the time I landed in Montreal and bronchitis. The girls, being 18 months and nearly 3, were a handful and their nap times were staggered, and I felt like death for the majority of my trip. That was when I decided I’d never fly with them on my own again till they were old enough to feed themselves, use the toilet on their own, and figure out their own in flight entertainment.
And in saying that, I decided I wouldn’t be heading back this year; that is until I got the news about my loved ones surgery. I thought about it and realized there is NO way I could go back and help with the recovery with my kids there. I’ll have to leave them behind. My heart kind of jumped and sank simultaneously. No kids…. Seriously no kids. On a 32 hour flight. O.M.G. My brain went into frenzy. I could watch movies, drink coffee, and wine, without worrying if someone is going to spill it every 3 seconds. I could SLEEP. And then I though, no kids…. I’ll miss them so much. How can I go all the way to Canada for a couple weeks without my kids?
Anyways, after a few weeks and numerous flight deals coming into my inbox later, I finally booked my ticket with Etihad Airways. It’s the lowest fare I’ve ever seen to get back to Canada, so I couldn’t not go.
I was nervous to tell people. I was nervous that people wouldn’t understand that I was leaving my kids behind for over 2 weeks. Even though they will be with their DAD, and his parents while he’s at work. It’s not like I’m dropping them at the orphanage while I am overseas, right? I still just felt like it’s odd for a mum to be away from such young kids (2.5 and 4 years old) for such a long period.
A friend of mine, who knew I had been on the fence about it, asked if I had made a final decision at ballet yesterday. Ballet class is at my local community center. A bunch of us mums sit out in the hall while our little girls do 45 minutes of what they like to call ballet. It’s become quite a little social event. I didn’t know most of the mums before we got into ballet, but we share all sorts of stuff that happens in our lives. We see each other week to week and really enjoy each other’s company. There are about 12 of us, and it’s really lovely. Regardless of how lovely they all are, I was a bit nervous to talk about my pending trip in front of all the mums. Would they judge me for going away with out the kids? Would they say things like ‘wont you miss them?’ or ‘are you sure your husband will be ok with them?’
I conceded that I had in fact booked my ticket. And all the mums who were in hearing distance looked at me and their eyes lit up. They all smiled, some congratulated me, and others told me how much I deserved it. One lady said, ‘I’m so happy for you’ and the others nodded in agreement. I felt like I had won the lottery. We all started talking about the horrors of flying with young kids internationally, and it was then that I realized not one of them judged me.
Not only do I feel no guilt now for leaving my girls behind, but also it really hit home how lucky I am to have a great group of mums who completely understand me, and know where I was coming from, and are so supportive of my decision. It felt awesome. I am so grateful.
All that to say, my excitement is raising as the weeks tick closer to my departure; every night since booking my ticket I fall asleep to the idea of possibly getting bumped into business class, or by some stroke of crazy luck, first class. I have visions of drinking champagne on the plane, and reading a book with no interruptions other than the airhostess filling up my champagne flute. Because lets face it, there is not a chance in hell I’ll get upgraded the next time I fly to Canada with my kids. Law of attraction, right? Bring it on.
5 weeks and counting… I promise to update you on my child free flight experience and stay tuned to hear if I get upgraded.