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This past weekend my husband’s younger cousin got married in San Diego.
As I told you in this post here, it was William’s first flight and I was definitely a little bit nervous. And by nervous I mean… I packed a week in advance, I scoured mommy blogs for how to travel with an infant, and we got to the airport two hours early, only to find out that our flight was delayed an additional two hours. #FAIL #FML
One would think that getting to the airport early with an infant would be a good thing – however – when you have a slightly fussy baby and need to pump or feed them every two hours, the extra time isn’t exactly ideal. Long story short, my husband, my husband’s cousin, Abby, (who is our nanny for the summer) and I, all took turns on William duty. It was my turn, and as I was sitting there, bouncing him on my lap, I became acutely aware that I was surrounded by mothers with children.
One of the funny things about becoming a mom is that you start to watch all the moms around you to see how they do things. It’s such a great way to learn. So as I was sitting there, at our gate, I realized that the airport is like theee besttt place to do this… to “mom watch” so to speak.
It’s like one big, messy, anthropological experiment…. a free showcase of modern mothers in one of their most stressful environments. Amazing!!
So let’s take Mom #1. Mom #1 had what looked to be a three year old and a one year old. As we waited for the plane, her three year old was running a muck. He literally was dodging around people’s legs, screaming at the top of his lungs, and looking back at Mom #1 every five seconds to see what she’d do. She quietly chastised him with her eyes, and forcefully sat him down in a chair next to their luggage. Over the course of our flight delay – there was counting to three, there was threatening of a spanking, there was wrist grabbing and yelling, but finally he settled down. Right before we were about to board, her one year old wanted to nurse and was subsequently screaming because of it. Mom #1 proceeded to pull up her whole shirt and nurse her daughter – in front of everyone. The whole gate saw this woman’s boobs. But she couldn’t have cared less. This was not her first rodeo… obviously. Her stroller was a disaster, toys were coming out of every pocket, her purse was dangling open off to one side, and she looked absolutely disheveled. But she pressed on and managed, somehow, to keep her cool.
Then there was Mom #2. Mom #2 was also traveling alone, and she had what looked to be a three year old and a five year old. Her two boys were immaculately dressed, they each had their own carry on, and they sat quietly in the family boarding area playing together. She was on her phone – cool as a cucumber. And then it hit me…. she was not from the United States…. she was chatting in French. At this point all I could think to myself was – “ALL THE BOOKS ARE RIGHT. All those books about French kids eating their vegetables – holy lawwd – they are right, and I’m seeing it with my very own eyes. DAMN IT!”
Then we had Mom #3. She had a baby girl who appeared to be the same age as William. She had her baby in an Ergo (facing out) and bounced her in front of a large window to let her watch the planes take off and land. Absolutely genius!
And then there’s Mom #4… me. First time mom, well behaved baby, flying with all the help in the world – but pumping nervously in the corner, fretting over every little yell that her son lets out. and ordering her husband around like a drill sergeant. “Put the stroller in the carrying case… I need my pump out of your carry on… the car-seat needs to go in the gate check bag… etc, etc”.
Anyhow, as I watched all of these mothers, I learned so much. Each one of them taught me something.
Mom #1 taught me that – you do what you gotta do. This woman was obviously not dealt an easy hand, but she was going to do whatever it took to get her kids on that plane. Also – that whole nursing in public thing – you go sister. Mom #2 taught me that there must be something to that whole French- style-parenting-movement-thing. ***Side note… I promptly need to finish reading Bringing up Bebe… Gahhh. Mom #3 taught me to use my natural environment to entertain my child. And Mom #4… what did I teach myself? That I need to chill the eff out… that it’s just a flight… and that instead of worrying about every little detail going perfectly, I need to enjoy being in the moment with my family.
So with that in mind, I tried to apply “being in the moment” to every aspect of our trip.
On the plane ride, William was a champ. All my fears had been for naught. He slept most of the way there, and when he wasn’t sleeping, he was watching all of us make funny faces at him. We arrived in San Diego calm and collected.
Let me start by saying that I have never LOVED San Diego. My sister went to college there and adored it, but to me it always felt too laid back… too beach bummy. But on this trip – being mindful of “being present”… it felt very different.
It ended up being one of the best vacations I have ever had.
With the exception of the night of the wedding – I never did my hair. I never took off the shorts that you see above, and I lived in my Jack Rogers. I snuggled my baby boy in the salty ocean air, and walked hand in hand with my husband along the boardwalk. We ate Acai bowls in the morning, and California burritos from a taco stand at night. We rented a pontoon boat Saturday afternoon and enjoyed drinking beer on the bay. My sister came over from Arizona to have “auntie time” with William while we all went to the wedding… (that was such an incredible treat)… and finally, we watched Joe’s cousin marry the love of his life. It was the weekend to end all weekends.
Everything we did was wonderful, but the best part of the trip, bar none, was being surrounded by the love of my husband’s family. It’s like that scene from How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days where they’re all playing “bullshit”… kids are running around screaming… uncle Arnold is farting… it’s crazy madness… but it’s perfect all at the same time.
That is what being around Joe’s family is like… it’s magic.
My husband’s family is huge, and something about the chaos of everyone getting together is dysfunctionally amazing. We all stayed at houses on the beach, within walking distance of one another, and the time we spent together was precious. Watching everyone see and hold William for the first time absolutely melted my heart.
Joe’s fifteen year old cousin, Sammy, (who is also Joe’s godson) laid on the bed with William the first night just holding his hand as he slept. Our niece, Eva, warmed up to William immediately and cuddled with him every chance she got. Joe’s stepbrother, Ryan, – gahh I get choked up just thinking about it – was holding William and smiling at him when someone asked, “Ryan… do you like babies?” Without missing a beat, Ryan goes… “I like babies that I’m related to!”
There’s just something about that Brady Bunch family feeling — it gives me goosebumps of the best kind. It’s that feeling of everyone being family and loving one another – despite the dysfunction and despite all the chaos.
That was what this weekend was all about, and that made it perfect. I thank God I was living in the moment and was able to appreciate every second.
Now for the best family photo ever… it is so “us”.
I love you.