Less than 24 hours with my feet firmly planted on homeground (okay, so maybe they’re firmly planted behind my butt as I sit on my chair, legs up, in front of my compy), and 3 hours of sleep after, and I’m so glad to be back home. I love traveling, but I love coming home more. 🙂
Chicago was awesome. If you go bloghopping, beginning with the Main Girlie’s blog (Read: Jessica, that Super-Awesome MegaWoman friend of mine) and going down the trail of blogs of my friends Shell, Veevs, Joan, Jana, Tori, Kari, Deb, Laurie, Jeanne, Susan, Amy, Lisa, Tall Lisa, and Janet who joined us for dinner on Friday evening, you should be pretty up to date with the am-AAA-zing weekend we all had last 27-29 June. We blew away the Windy City with all our cameras (the guy on the River cruise we took said “Wowza! I’ve never before seen such a group of women with such awesome cameras!” hehe. You tell em, dude! 😛 ), our laughter, our craziness, and our overflowing love for each other.
Lots of photos coming soon. As of last upload count, I had 2000 photos, so I will have to work on sorting through all of them and narrowing the count (lest this become a photo blog, lol!). Gotta love 8GB camera cards, huh? 🙂 Okay, so maybe those photos included NYC as well, but Chicago alone accounted for about 1500 of the total photo count… (Chicago GFs, are you ready to download these? ROFL!)
While sitting in the plane flying home, thousands of feet above sea level in the middle of dawn and morning, I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote this by hand, fully wishing I had a laptop instead, and fully intending to post it on my blog as soon as I arrived home. So here it is; bear with me:
How Gremlins Can Be a Good Thing
It’s a 28-hour-flight, more or less (or at least it feels like it), and we’re crossing time zones and three cities with layovers and de-planing and re-planing (I’m inventing words and I’m claiming jetlag insanity to excuse it 😛 ). Aaaand it just so happens that my little 2-year-old boy decides that THIS, the longest leg of the flight, from Detroit, USA to Nagoya, Japan, is the perfect opportunity to grab a nightmare out of nowhere and have a major meltdown in a plane filled to the brim with tired passengers trying desperately to get some shut-eye between cities.
So picture this: a large jet with every seat occupied by a tired, heavy-lidded passenger trying to find the most comfy sleeping position possible. Lights dimmed. Low hum of plane engines the perfect white noise to lull everyone to sleep. Perfect. And then…
A piercing cry, shrill, high-pitched, breaks through the sleepy lull, like a mad banshee in a forest. Heaven help me, the sound is emanating from this little 2-year-old boy beside me, the one who just a few minutes ago was like a sleeping angel in my arms. I hug him, I hold him, I shush him. But the kicking, screaming, and blind punching continue. This nightmare my little one has had is so real, he can’t even wake up enough to realize that it’s just a dream (and my ego suffers a dip as I realize my most soothing motherly voice does nothing in the comfort department, lol!) The binky I offer gets hurled by angry little fists at least 2 rows down, to be fished by some elderly gentleman from the plane’s carpeted floor (thank you, my eyes tell him with extreme gratitude and apology combined).
“J touched me!!! He touched me!!!” my little one screams, pointing to his arm, punching the air, totally annoyed that his older brother “touched” him while he was sleeping. Of course this little older brother was seated a row ahead of him and two seats to the left… and unless this boy had morphed into the PlasticMan while I was asleep, there was absolutely no way that he could’ve touched this other sweetie of mine.
But even if I whisper “It was just a dream, honey” and “J is fast asleep; he couldn’t have touched you, dear,” my little one is unconvinced and is just a total mess of tears and wailing.
After about 24 hours (okay, in reality, it was less than an hour, but it certainly felt like 24), my dear hubby comes to the rescue, hobbling over legs from his seat 2 rows ahead of us where he had our 4-year-old sleeping the flight away curled like a nice little baby lamb on the seat next to his (Why, oh, why could we not have shifted kiddo assignments for this particular flight, I ask myself wistfully).
Three minutes after hubby squats beside our seats, which is now a tangled mess of airline pillows and blankets, my little one decides to quiet down. Still refusing to be held by anyone, he tucks his little binky’ed chin into his chest and faces the backrest of the chair to whimper and sniffle himself back to sleep. I watch with bated breath, fearful that any movement might rouse the gremlin that got into my kid and make him do a screaming banshee act again.
And then. Like the first rays of dawn beaking through the dark clouds of a long-winded nightmare, the little one reaches for me, bleary-eyed, with outstretched arms, and softly whispers…
And I take that little monster of mine into the curve of my circled arms, rock him back and forth a bit, and when I am sure his breathing is relaxed and back to its peaceful cadence, I let out a long sigh of relief and more than a couple of teardrops of exhaustion.
Now what could be good about this major meltdown? (I am thinking of my friend Jes and her equally horrifying experience with her kids’ meltdown recently at a friend’s place. And I’m thinking, heck, this one beat theirs).
Count your blessings they say. Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining.
Here’s the silver lining of this one: For one thing, I realize yet again that as parents you and I may want to control our children and their actions and reactions as much as we can (especially when that action causes an infinite reaction of shuffling and twisting and turning of disturbed passengers in their seats), and yet despite all our best efforts, we still aren’t able to do a single thing about it. Not because we lack anything, not because we did not foresee this, not because we are unprepared, but only because… sometimes, that’s just the way things are.
This has taught me to accept with peace and calmness that certain things are just beyond one’s control.
And since we mentioned peace… this brings us to the second silver lining: This experience beats any eight-week class on Lamaze breathing exercises. This is the mother load of training in Inner Peace Maintenance. I’ve heard it said: Never try to put out a fire with a blaze. This meltdown certainly had enough heat of its own. So a couple of deep breaths and inner calming mechanisms later, I can now claim that I am a Master of the Zen of Deep Breathing.
Third silver lining: This drives home the truth in that old adage – This, too, shall pass. Good moments, freaky ones… they all pass. They’re all temporary, fleeting, here today gone tomorrow, popping like fragile bubbles of time. What a great reminder of how, truly, we are simply travelers in this world, passing through temporarily till we get to our final destination with peace, wits, and ability to appreciate all things intact.
The profundity that lies behind Major Meltdowns. Where would we be without it?
Other Various Lessons I Learned from 10 Days Away from Home:
1. You can get *really* BIG hair in the Big Apple if you skip that crucial step of applying conditioner after you shampoo your hair at night. So make sure you either use conditioner at night or get up really early before the rest of your family does.
2. You can walk around and around in circles, map in hand, to get to Madame Tussaud’s in New York, and then lose the map at the 4-D show at M. Tussaud’s yet walk back to your hotel in four minutes flat, in a straight line. Nope, no circles, no map. Less time. Go figure.
3. You can meet, hug, stay up late, and walk the streets of Chicago with friends you’ve only actually held in your arms a matter of seconds ago in real life… and feel like you’ve known them all your life, and feel like you can talk and talk and talk forever, and miss them like crazy when the three days are over because these are people you love and who love you back… and know that this is phenomenal, that this is a gift, that this is something that doesn’t happen to many in even one lifetime. And you know in your heart. THIS is what connection is. Not as it is defined in any dictionary, but as it is etched forever in the grooves of your heart.
To all my Spragsistahs that I hugged in real life in Chicago, and to my most awesome, amazing friend Jes… THANK YOU. This is an experience I will always treasure in my heart. And remember, there are no goodbyes… only Till Next Spraguefest, right? 😉
And now, on to the growing list of to-do’s that are calling my name…