Have Small Children, Must Travel/Apologize to Those Seated Near us on the Plane

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two Saturdays ago, 4:30am PST
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If the journey was truly more important than the destination, nobody in their right mind would ever travel with small children. Nobody would lug carseats on top of strollers on top of luggage, besides backpacks overflowing with changes of clothes for the wet-throughs on airplane seats, and snacks to be spilled and squashed and smashed and shattered into crumbs that somehow end up between skin and jeans, soaked with the water from those little airplane water bottles because NO! I DO IT MYSELF! Nobody would have to move seats because the man seated in front of your daughter threatens her with a booming howl as she gets out of her seat for the 787987th time, rubbing up against his fully reclined seat.

"Sorry, sir. She's two and sitting still is not her strength."


"I know. I'm sorry but..."


"I... yeah."

If the journey was more important than the destination, visiting far away lands would be an adults only operation. Children would have to stay home. They would not attend weddings and meltdown on dance floors. They would not take in the views or cross borders seated on sweaters after soaking through their clothes during long drives. We would all sleep on airplanes, read on airplanes, watch movies on airplanes. We would all be rested as we climbed to the rock overlooking the world.

I took an impressive amount of photos as we traveled these last eleven days but among them are no images of the meltdowns and the screaming and the hours it took for us to get the little ones down at night after napping zero hours during the day. There are no artfully cropped images of airplane travel with:

1. A two year old who is terrified of flying and
2. A two year old who is terrified of sitting in an airplane seat for more than three seconds.
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But there is this, which I took as we were dealing with lost luggage (mine) which was eventually found (and shuttled to us the following day) and miraculously, through the wait, the kids entertained themselves for an hour with no meltdowns and only minor bouts of drama. Amazing.
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On the way home, in the midst of handing off a screaming child during the descent into Los Angeles, I stood up to breathe, even though I was supposed to be fastened into my seatbelt, and looked around at a plane full of people with hands over their ears and told them with my eyes that I was sorry. And frustrated. And wished this wasn't part of the deal.

If only we could go to the place with the view without the screaming and the accidents and the tantrums and the inability to sleep or nap while traveling. 

If only we could fly in peace and quiet. 

If only the journey was as relaxing as the moment we are taking in the scenic views of Lake Champlain. 

Ah, but it isn't.

The journey is NOTHING LIKE the destination when traveling with small children. Not even close. The journey is very much the journey. Between long plane rides and layovers, shuttle rides and lost luggage, wet socks and being up for sixteen hours straight. (My kids do not sleep on planes. Bummer.) And yet, we do it anyway. We do it because there is no other way to get from one end of the country to another. We do it because it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. We do it because there are going to be times in our lives when people hate us.

Because sometimes you have no choice but to be THOSE people and it's humbling.

To be hated.

To be yelled at.

To be sneered at when leaving an airplane with a child who is still hysterical.

These last eleven days, spent mainly amongst trees and valleys, surrounded by lakes and the natural landscape, family and abundant beauty, I've felt incredibly small, humbled, grateful. And in the hours it took to get there, bruised and battered trying to wrangle and calm and not get punched by the angry dude in the Von Dutch hat, even more so...

Because every last journey must come to an end. Maybe that's why we, as parents, can't stop taking photographs...

Because in the aftermath of a tantrum or a sleepless night or a diaper that leaked out the side of a pair of leggings and onto one's jeans, there is light. The age old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side takes on a whole new meaning when you arrive on the other side surrounded by green. And so, we capture with cameras the love instead of the war, the embrace instead of the hair pull, the rainbows instead of the rain...
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The rain was there, though.

The war happened.

The hairs were in clumps on the floor.

But I would rather see the sun...
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...revel in the embrace of four exhausted children, on a curb waiting for the shuttle after fourteen hours of traveling, as a a reminder that the destination is ALWAYS worth the journey it takes to get there. Even when we're all out of our minds with exhaustion.
airportwait Tuesday night, 2am EST.