Between you and me, I’ve always been pretty grossed out at the thought of watching kids crawl in public places. The germs, the disgusting things they could find on the floor and stuff in their mouths, how awful it must look to other people (“She lets her kid crawl on this nasty floor!”) … the thought made my stomach turn.
That is … until I got stuck at Newark Airport for four hours last night … At that point, all those thoughts went out the window.
Backing up, Luis had flown back the night before after my cousin’s wedding (he had to work and had class in Ann Arbor last night) so I was flying solo with Maya. On the way to NJ last week, our delay was only an hour … which was fine. I had managed to entertain her with her books, we sang and played, she fed herself Puffs, drank a bottle … we chatted with EVERYONE in the gate area (she’s such a flirt!). It was OK.
But on the way back, it was nearly a four-hour delay. A seasoned new mom traveler, I had planned ahead and had enough bottles, diapers, wipes, food, snacks and toys. But this was four freaking hours.
The truth is, Maya needed to move. We’d been delayed so many times and she was getting antsy. Nothing was making her happy, least of all those two tooth buds we can see now. She just wasn’t herself. In fact, every time the phone would ring (family or husband calling for an update), she’d take my iPhone from me and hang up on whoever was calling! The nerve She would arch her back, shriek, wriggle … totally un-Maya-like (and surely toddler-like) behavior … but also behavior of a baby who had spent the weekend mostly sick (we had another ER visit … no febrile seizure, though we think she started having one at one point–turns out the high fever was caused by an upper-respiratory infection).
Point being, she had had it. And I was traveling alone. Mommy had had it, too.
So when she squirmed out of my arms, I let her go. I didn’t care who looked at me with disdain the way I probably (unknowingly) had looked at other moms; clearly I hadn’t understood before just how much children need to move around so they aren’t squirming all over on the plane. Now I get it, and I will reserve mothering judgment going forward! (And maybe I’m the weird one–maybe all parents let their kids crawl in public places?)
I didn’t leave her out of my sight of course, but I checked to make sure we were in an open space away from most passengers and I chased behind her, let her stand and pull herself up on the wall, the rows of chairs, the strollers … I let her cruise and let her crawl and let her exhaust her lil self.
And then when she was done moving and grooving and waving and smiling to strangers, I wiped the living hell out of her grubby little hands with those glorious Johnson & Johnson antibacterial hand and face wipes and forgave myself for not being able to control her otherwise.
At 6:20 (with our flight expected then to board at 6:50) I changed her one last time, gave her a bottle, and she crashed in the stroller … and though we didn’t depart til after 8, she didn’t wake up once til we got home to Kalamazoo at 1:00 AM (and this included a run through the airport in Detroit to find Luis who fortunately had class in Ann Arbor and picked us up, a long 2-hour car-ride back from the airport, etc.).
All in all, she was a trooper. And for as “out-of-control” as I felt she was being at times, all the people near me kept complimenting me about what a good baby she was being, how sweet and cute she is, how well-behaved and calm she is. They weren’t focused on her two random shrieks or her red-faced “tantrum” at that one second … they know she’s a baby, and babies cry. Instead, they were so patient and understanding as our departure time got pushed back and pushed back –which made the otherwise stressful situation a little easier to swallow.
I have to say, I appreciated how their perspective could help me see “it’s not so bad.” Because she WASN’T “being bad.” In fact, Maya was just being a baby … and I was perhaps expecting too much from her. Sometimes I forget; she’s not a little 8-lb 6-week baby anymore who does nothing but eat, sleep, and poop like she did that first trip home.
She’s almost a year old now … 19 lbs 5 oz, and growing …. she’s still an excellent flier (sleeping on 15/17 of her flights) but she is an excited, eager, curious little girl who wants to explore her world and tell you ALL about it (in her own babble). And she needed to move.
I think what’s hard is that major travel delays like that are par for the course in this day and age … and they would have been OK had I been by myself. But I wasn’t by myself, which added another layer of stress to the equation. Fortunately, it ended up fine … though we missed our connection, Luis was able to bring us home anyway, and Maya got in a full 13 hours of sleep last night — no complaints there!
But I needed a chill pill, needed to be able to step back and say, “It’s going to be OK. If she cries, she cries.” And if crawling on the carpet in Terminal B is the solution … so be it! Sometimes we just have to let go.
I’ve learned that it’s a bad idea to go into motherhood with the expectation of “absolutes”. For example, I always said “I won’t use a pacifier.” Guess what, we did … from Day 3 on, Maya has had her giraffe Wubbanub.
I also said, “I’d never let my baby sleep in her own room before she is three months old.” Guess what, we put her in her crib at a month when we realized we weren’t getting any sleep with her in there!
I now know that many of those “won’t, never, etc.” type comments just come back to bite us. So while I thought I’d never let my kid crawl on the ground in a public place … in certain circumstances, I’ve learned, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Pretty “Jersey” of me, no?
How about you? What did you do that you didn’t think you’d do as a parent? Would you/did you let your kids crawl in public places?