Recently, I traveled with my two kids, who are both under 4, alone to visit my parents (their grandparents) on the other side of the country. I had been asking my husband to let us go without him (he can’t take off work) for awhile, and he kept refusing because he didn’t think I’d be able to handle it on my own. (Doesn’t he remember that I had an unplanned home birth with no epidural? I can handle anything!) I had to prove him wrong, and he finally agreed to let us go.
The morning of our flight, a friend took us to the airport, and I somehow held my 14 month old in one arm, pushed a cart full of luggage (which included 2 car seats) with the other, and kept my eye on my 3 1/2 year old as we waited to check in. We made it through security without any issues, and got on the plane with a sigh of relief (on my part). We sat in the back of the plane, and there was a young couple in the row behind us who also had a small child. We smiled, made small talk, and my little guy became their best friend in no time. He kept peeking through and over the seats, trying to make them laugh and acting like the energetic boy that he is.
Meanwhile, my sweet girl wasn’t enjoying herself quite as much. She’s still breastfeeding, and she wasn’t about to spend 4 hours on a plane without being attached to my boob, or walking up and down the aisle. I would put her down, and she’d take her time to stop by each person’s seat, look at them and smile. She tried to reach into some women’s bags, and even tried to climb up on a few people’s laps. Luckily, most of them weren’t bothered by her, and some even interacted with her.
It reached a point, however, where she was clearly tired but refused to sleep. And I mean refused. I tried walking her. I tried breastfeeding her. I tried giving her snacks, a drink, a magazine. Nothing was working. The lady in the seat across from me asked if the baby was too young to chew gum, because maybe the pressure was hurting her ears. The girl in front of me offered to let the kids watch a show on her iPad, but little miss was having none of it. She was screaming and squirming, and I couldn’t get her to be quiet. So, I picked her up and walked her up and down the aisle a few times. This became our routine for the next few hours. I’m pretty sure a few of the other passengers were thinking what a horrible mother I was that I couldn’t get my own child to behave.
After she calmed down, we went back and sat in our seats. My little guy told me that his tummy was hurting. “Do you need to go potty?” I asked.
“No” he said.
“Are you sure? If you need to go, let’s go. I don’t want you pooping in your diaper. I’ll take you to the potty on the airplane.” But he insisted he didn’t need to go. I had purposefully put him in a diaper because I wasn’t about to risk him having an accident in his underwear. He was almost completely potty trained, but I had enough to worry about without having to think of him peeing or pooping all over himself. I stood up holding the baby, and chatted more with the couple behind us. We asked each other typical parenting questions about feeding, sleeping and what it’s like to travel with kids. My son was still popping over to ask them questions or share random facts with them, and they seemed to enjoy his little show.
Then my baby started fussing, so we made our trip up the walkway yet again. I walked her up and back, up and back. When we got back the second time, my son was standing up at his seat with an oh no, mommy’s going to be mad so I better not tell her look on his face. And I knew what had happened.
“Did you poop?” I asked.
He had an embarrassed look on his face and nodded his head. I sighed heavily. “Ok, let’s go to the potty and change you. Why didn’t you tell me you had to poop? You’re a big boy! You shouldn’t be pooping in your diaper.” I grabbed a new diaper and the pack of wipes as I held the baby in my other arm. Then I followed my boy into the bathroom before realizing he certainly couldn’t change himself, so I’d have to squeeze in there with him. But what to do with the baby? “Is there a chance you can hold her while I change him?” I asked the flight attendant. She was so kind and helpful during the entire flight, and she said she would be happy to. She handed me a large garbage bag to put the dirty diaper in, and I closed the door behind me.
Frustrated, and burning up from all the up and down I was doing, I sat my son on the toilet and asked him if he had to go more. He did. As he went, I pulled his shoes and shorts off. Then I had to get the diaper off without smearing poop all over his legs. And let me tell you, maneuvering this whole thing in a tiny airplane lavatory is not easy! As I started to pull the diaper down, it flipped over and the giant blob of poop landed on the floor. “Great. Just great!” I said. I tried to pick it up with the diaper, but it just smeared it around more. “Gross. Oh my gosh, argh!”
“What’s wrong mommy?” my little guy asked.
“You’re a big boy! You should have told me you had to go poop. Now the poop is getting all over!”
I grabbed the wipes and wiped as much of the poop off the floor as I could. I know it wasn’t the cleanest way, but it was the best option I had at the time. I tossed the diaper and the wipes into the garbage bag that the flight attendant had given me, which I’d hung on the door lock behind me. Now the smell of feces filled the small bathroom and my hair nearly grazed the poop that was on the edge of the bag. Once my son was finished, he stepped down off the toilet, right onto the spot where his poop had fallen minutes earlier. Awesome. Now he’s probably got remnants of poop all over his feet, I thought. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to get out of there and sit back down.
We washed our hands and opened the door, and I handed the flight attendant the garbage bag as she handed me the baby, who was, of course, still deliriously tired and refusing to sleep. So I spent the rest of the flight walking up and down that walkway, getting dirty looks from annoyed people, and hoping that my little guy was not going to do his business again until we landed (he didn’t, thankfully).
I guess people could tell I was a little flustered, because when we did land, and everyone was waiting to get off the plane, a man looked at me and said, “Good job, mom.” It felt good to hear someone say that, but it got me wondering…just how stressed out did I look? I was proud of myself for getting through the flight on my own, but I was sure happy that I had help for the next several days!