Flying Solo

Posted by mwallach on March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized |

Dear That’s Life,

I can count on one hand the number of times I have been on a trip by myself since I am married, whether by car or by plane. For one night, maybe two, I have left my family to attend an event or celebration of some sort. Plenty of people choose to take a vacation every once in a while with friends, whether a “girls-only trip” or a “guys-only adventure”, leaving spouses and children behind. I have never done that, preferring to travel with my husband should we be able to steal a couple of days away without our kids. Needing to relax, unplug and recharge, I am desperate to find a way for he and I to get some seriously needed and earned R&R in the very near future. Until then, my husband surprised me with some alone time, even if it just for a couple of hours. While one might not think his gesture is such a big deal, that is only because you are not sitting next to him and our six kids in coach while I enjoy grander accommodations, all by myself in business.

Having hurt my back the other day, the advent of a flight no matter how short, left me quite uneasy. Proactive as I am, I did everything I could to dull the pain not exacerbate the injury, including teaching with an ice pack pressed against my lower back and even getting into bed for a while, just to rest. We were not cancelling our trip – that was not even up for discussion. When the upgrade presented itself, however, he graciously and heroically gave it to me. He argued that being able to stretch out into a more comfortable position instead of wedging myself into coach was certainly going to help the healing process. And while I was feeling truly guilty about sitting alone, I would have done the same for him and been just as insistent.

The flight had already been delayed and our kids were antsy by the time we boarded. Even before take-off, the melodious sounds of my children settling in could be heard from the front of the plane. I guiltily sat in my oversized seat as my toddler’s booming voice soared throughout the cabin as she fought with my husband about sitting in her seatbelt. It took no time at all for the guilt to set in as I quickly posted on Facebook as to my husband’s generosity. It was only a matter of time before the comments came flooding in and I knew that by the time I landed, the peanut gallery would have all chimed in.

Even after takeoff, certain easily recognizable voices could still be heard. As if sitting in confession, I felt the need to admit to my fellow passengers that I was the mother to the children in the back who could audibly be heard by everyone on board. Of course, the next logical move was to explain why I was sitting with them and why my husband was alone with our crew. It took no time, however, for their faces to turn to smiles and remark, “Your husband must really love you.” I nodded in affirmation – because even before this current display of affection, there was never a doubt in my mind that he did.

I went back to check on them a bunch of times, only for my husband to return me to my seat where a flight attendant had fashioned a makeshift ice pack for my back. Like the pied piper, however, I was quickly followed by my son, who sat himself down on my lap and played video games on my computer. Bothering no one, marveled both by the size of the seat and the abundance of legroom, he did not make a peep the entire time he spent with me. The lovely woman seated beside me tried to engage him in conversation numerous times but he kept to himself, as I had warned him this section was not for children. Once someone noticed he was there, I told him, the jig was up. Little did I know, however, that the whistle blower would be my husband himself.

Up to the front of the plane he came, his hands resting softly on his hips, as he came to take our son back to his seat. Though I assured him it was no trouble and everything was under control, he reminded me that while we may not have paid for this upgrade, everyone else has and they did not intend on being joined by a pre-schooler. Valid point aside, hearts broke as my son began to cry. He walked back to coach and his sobs could still be heard as he took his seat. Of course it was all dramatic and upsetting, but the reality was that there he was sitting only four rows behind me. On short flights like this one, the only thing that truly separates business from coach is a gossamer-like curtain and a free drink.

After landing, I quickly pulled up Facebook to check out all of the comments I was confident were going to be posted. One person wanted to know what kind of dog house my husband was trying to get out of by giving me the seat. Another person wondered just how many points – brownie or frequent flyer – this act of kindness was costing him, while someone else simply remarked that if there was ever a sign of one’s love, it is the giving up of a seat upgrade to a spouse while the other parent sat alone with the kids in coach.

It is so easy to be cynical in this day and age. Publicly and privately, I thank my husband for taking good care of me, even when I am a pain in the neck. And to the flight attendants who knew my children by name by the time we landed, and to the pilots who allowed my children to press and inordinate amount of buttons once we had landed, I appreciated it all. Seems that there was more going on during that flight than I had realized and that yes: it takes a village and a Delta flight crew to raise a child.
MLW
As Seen in the South Shore Standard March 2011

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