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Traveling During the Holidays–Don’t Do It

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I tend to think of them as “survival days”.  (Yes, I’m being a bit dramatic here, but I’m a Jewish mother. What do you want?)

Those are the days when schedules are ignored, rules become highly flexible, and you do whatever you can to avoid monster tantrums on the restaurant floor or the middle of the airport terminal or whatever high-stress, very public location you find yourselves stuck in.

Our recent survival day involved flying from Boston to California during peak holiday travel time, though luckily before this giant blizzard blanketed the East Coast.

The morning went as well as possible–we survived the early wake-up, the freezing wait for the airport shuttle, and the schlepping.  Oy, the schlepping. We pride ourselves on traveling lightly, but we still ended up with two small suitcases, two car seats, one diaper bag, one backpack, one double stroller, and one Dora rolling bag. That night Mommy had a headache!

It seemed as though the day might not be so terrible, and I was feeling hopeful. And then the pilot announced that due to strong winds, we would be in the air for seven hours.  Yes, SEVEN HOURS.  I can barely entertain my kids indoors at home for two hours, even with all of our toys, books, music, and space.  So, there we were, two sleep-deprived parents, a toddler, and an infant crammed into three tiny seats at the back of coach. Yep, it was going to be a survival day.

Josh and I alternated between holding a very squirmy Baby Rose and trying to keep Frieda from kicking the seat back in front of her. (To the person sitting in front of her–we’re sorry. Really sorry.)  The rules went out the window, which is why Frieda ended up eating junk food out of those miserable little snack boxes and watching almost 4 hours of TV.  In a stroke of parental genius (if I do say so myself), my husband and I had bought some toddler headphones and taught Frieda how to use them a few days earlier.  If there is a master list of God’s gifts to parents, we can add the iPad and Caillou right between the bouncy chair and drive-through coffee shops.

The rest of the day was like another bad sequel to the Vacation movies (you know, the one that never should have been made, because it’s just not funny anymore). As we were waiting for our luggage, I found myself covered in applesauce drool and pre-chewed cracker crumbs while singing Oh Hanukkah and Jingle Bells over and over again.  (Where did the kid learn Jingle Bells? Daycare, most likely. Whatever.  Still worth ever penny.) After an afternoon of stand-up diaper changes gone terribly wrong, lost husbands, lost reservations, and lost minds, we finally got settled into our hotel room.  I went to a nearby grocery store for some food.  A dropped (and broken) jar of baby food later, I made it back.

With one girl asleep in each room, Josh and I seated ourselves on the hallway floor next to the bathroom with our sandwiches. We said ha’motzi, and for the first time in almost 15 hours, I felt like I could breathe. We had survived.

And then the baby started to cry.

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