Planes, Babes, and Automobiles: A Mother’s Tale of WTF Possessed Her to Travel Alone with Two under Three.
It all started on the first week of June, the incident that would lead to my temporary insanity. My husband started a new contract in Ireland. After a year of staying at home with me and our two daughters, ages 2 years and 7 months, he would now leave for work in another country, leaving me home in Munich with two adorably monkeyesque children.
Arriving home after leaving my husband at the airport, I took the girls out to a playground and then back home for their bedtime routine. That’s when I saw it on my 2 year old’s face; she was missing her father. He had always been part of her bedtime routine her entire life until that day, and it broke my heart to see her so very sad. Her sadness caused my mind to temporarily leave reality, and I booked our round trip tickets; just me, my toddler, and my baby on a direct 2.5 hour flight to Dublin. “I got this,” I thought amusingly, “I’m an Über Mom, ffs.”
As travel day approached, I checked my extensive list of everything that I needed to bring with us. I wrote everything down from the list of clothes that we’d be wearing for traveling, to the number of binkies I needed to pack (all of them). And as it turned out, whatever I forgot to write down, I forgot to bring. My list columns included Marisa, Toddler, Baby, Husband (of course he forgot stuff because he didn’t make a list), Carry-on, and a To-Do list on the side.
Travel day arrived. I was already packed the evening before and our flight wasn’t until 14:00. I was so damn prepared that I even had time to take my kids to a nearby playground for 30 minutes before driving to the airport. I sprang for the convenience of parking at the terminal (the wrong terminal, but what’s an extra 6 minutes’ walk? Hello, Über Mom here). I took out my new-used Maclaren stroller and its gate check soft case, both purchased especially for this trip, and put my toddler into it. I strapped my baby in the baby carrier and off we went to catch our flight.
Virtually everything was going smoothly. Sure the walk was longer than I expected because I parked near Terminal 1 and my flight was at Terminal 2, and by the time I got to security I was a sweaty mess because my baby is a heating unit and it was 28 degrees outside, but check-in and luggage drop at Lufthansa were pain free. The people working at MUC airport security were very helpful, offering to hold my baby while I unbuckled/folded/removed various items for the scanning machine and entertaining my toddler long enough so she didn’t want to run off to explore the shops nearby.
After security check, I was strolling through the Duty Free shop when my toddler spotted a colorful tube of Smarties chocolate candies with a cute little plush octopus on the cap. She wanted it. I, as an Über Mom, in case I hadn’t mentioned it before, prefer to give my child healthy snacks and… Oh fuck it, the baby was starting to complain because I was HER heating unit, my back was getting achier, and my toddler had gone from “fairly happy” to “sitting is for chumps” in 8.3 minutes. “It’s okay, Über Mom,” I said to myself, “You pick your battles, and now is not the time to battle.” Toddler got Smarties; toddler was happy again.
Moving on, I decided to change nappies and sit the toddler on the toilet before the flight. It was in the handicap toilet/changing room that reality hit me with the cosmic joke book entitled So You Think You’re Prepared. The toddler was on the toilet holding onto the side rails while trying not to fall in and was screaming. The baby was strapped to the changing table and was screaming. I was frantically trying to change a poopy nappy while negotiating with the toddler not to slide her poopy butt off of the toilet and was on the verge of tears. After wrestling a clean nappy onto my toddler and nearly losing my shit, a sudden calm rushed over me. I locked my screaming toddler into her stroller, strapped my crying baby to my body, and I walked out of that bathroom amidst shocked/concerned/appalled onlookers with my head held high because, dear readers, there wasn’t a damned thing I could do at that point.
When we finally got to the gate, I was drenched in sweat, I smelled a little bit, and my back ached, but whatever. Über Mom. The rest of the journey was less eventful. I gate checked my stroller without its protective soft case because to hell with it; we boarded, claimed our seats, and I gave my toddler all the chocolate she wanted. After the plane took off, I turned on the iPad for my toddler and settled into my seat with my baby in my lap for the 2.5hr flight. After landing, claiming my luggage, and walking through the arrivals gate, my toddler saw her daddy in person for the first time in two weeks. The look on her face made the entire ordeal worth it.
After a week in Ireland, it was time to fly back to Munich. I was worried that saying goodbye to her father again would make the trip home even harder. But alas, both of my children pleasantly surprised me and the trip home was tantrum free. There were things that went wrong such as the airline sending my gate checked stroller on to baggage check, which meant I had to go from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 with a tired toddler and a baby without a stroller. Wheelchairs and luggage carts were involved in getting us to our car. Then our car wouldn’t start. But that’s another story.
So what did I learn from my first travel experience with two under threes? Make a list of absolutely everything you need. Give in to chocolate and unlimited videos on the tablet/phone. Download a lot of videos; you can never have too many. Don’t apologize for your children being children. Ask for help. Nine times out of ten, people are happy to help and probably even feel sorry for you. And make sure that the stroller you check at the gate will be waiting for you at the gate upon your arrival. Most importantly, just roll with it. The experience was worth the reward, if only for a memory to laugh about long after the ordeal is over.
I’m going to do it all again in about a month.