When preparing for a four day adventure with your five month old that includes a plane ride … pack less expectations. You also might want to consider packing less stuff too … babies can survive on a lot less than we think they can.
It is a true statement: we, as women, can always, always, always survive on a lot less expectations.
Let me explain who I was … probably alot like you. My husband and I were (humbly and quietly … and obviously naively) self proclaimed ideal first time parents, with the ideal schedule for our ideal baby and of course…the ideal expectations for life with our little one. Therefore, I had calculated our return flight from Washington DC perfectly: nurse my “sweet, precious, cry free while traveling baby” in the privacy of my sister’s home so she will be ready for a nap on the plane. And being the ideal mom that I was … I packed bottles and bubbles and bananas and little toys “just in case”. It was the ideal plan … in my mind … oh, and in my expectations.
One of the bonuses of traveling with a wee one on SWA is that you get to board the plane early. So, early boarding we did…to that wonderful spot in the front of the plane where six seats face each other….and with another bonus: leg room. The hopeful thought crossed my mind, that folks seeing a baby would choose calm over leg room and pass right by us. As the plane began to fill, so did our little area. A teenager with headphones took an aisle seat. “Good,” I thought, “he won’t hear a thing”. A sweet older couple sat next to the windows. “Super! Grandparents! This is looking ideal”. At at the last minute, a business man came in and sat on the aisle seat, leaving the seat directly across from me open. “Sweet, I have leg room for Libby and I.” We all introduced ourselves and settled for our adventure. The business man beside me was quite chatty and had three little ones of his own. “The perfect traveling neighbors”, I sighed with relief.
Just as the door was about to close, one more passenger came running down the tunnel to board the plane. She took the last seat…across from me. As she ran by the stewardess, she motioned to have a bloody mary brought to her right away. Did I mention this was an 8:30 a.m. flight? Once she got situated, she buckled up and locked eyes with me and my sweet little baby. I smiled. She didn’t. I introduced myself. She didn’t. I had all my clothes on. She didn’t. We were two different women in two different seasons of life.
Half way through the trip, I thought it would be wise to feed Libby. She did wonderfully. But because I had pumped a bottle for this trip, my chest was feeling the pain. No one warned me about this happening … or the part that caused my entire shirt to become wet. I attempted to button the small (and getting smaller) sweater I had on over my shirt. I patted myself on the back for handling the less than ideal situation quite well as Libby fell off to sleep.
It was still going according to my ideal plan and the plane’s descent was coming soon.
As the plane starting descending, Libby woke up a little fussy. With great confidence, I assured everyone that it was just her ears feeling the change in pressure. I was confident of knowing my daughter so well, until the kind man next to me pointed out the ooze of brown coming up out of the back of Libby’s diaper and all over my already wet blouse. Continuing in his chivalrous ways, he handed me the wet wipes out of my diaper bag, so I could attempt to clean up Libby…and me. Again, patting myself on the back for gracefully handling another situation I apologized for the smell and confidently assured my traveling neighbors that the fussiness would subside as she obviously had taken care of it herself.
I should have seen my expectations and confidence parachute out of the plane at that moment … but I was too busy patting myself on the back at how I was salvaging the ideal trip. Libby let out a small little cry, sat straight up and projected everything left in her little body directly on to our the woman across the aisle from me. There was no escape. She was covered and dripping with my daughter’s vomit. It was dripping into places that, well…it shouldn’t drip. Again, the kind man dug in to my diaper bag for rags and wet wipes for our neighbor. And all I could say was “Don’t worry. It won’t stain, its breast milk”. Nice. I am quite confident that au dous breast milk is not the perfume that her friends will be wearing as they go out on the town in Austin. There we sat knee to knee. Me covered in diarrhea and breast milk. And she covered in vomit. The next few minutes as the plane landed were a blur.
Feeling my pain, or perhaps fearing for my life, the stewardess allowed Libby and I to be the first off the plane. After visiting the ladies’ room, to clean the both of us up, we met the rest of our new friends (and enemy) at the baggage claim. Seeing that I was juggling a diaper bag and a baby turned octopus, my chivalrous neighbor found me and offered to get my bag as it went by on the luggage belt. As we visited and laughed about the turn of events we watched the luggage go by us. He looked at me and said, “That one must be yours” as he pointed to the one bag that had been torn and had underwear and pajamas spilling out of it. “Yep, it sure is,” I said as I handed him my baby and gathered up my “unmentionables”.
Those few hours were not ideal. They did not meet my expectations. But somewhere along that less than ideal adventure, I chose to laugh about it and find joy in the ridiculous events. I chose to change my perspective. I suppose, the alternative could have had me locked up with a straight jacket.
I have had many years of dealing with a variety of unmet expectations and situations … a day or relationship not going the way I wanted … an outfit or idea just not fitting right … the marriage or the trip ending way before I hoped. We all are faced with unmet expectations each day. Somewhere along this adventure called life, (by the grace of God) I began to change my perspective. I know that when the situation isn’t like I want it to be; I can still find joy in it. In fact … I would be so bold to say that when I let go of my expectations and go with the flow … I can actually enjoy the situation. Trust me, it shocks me as much of those that have watched me flounder frequently in disappointment. It takes practice … lots and lots.
Expect what He promises us …
“I have come to give you life and give you life abundantly.” John 10:10
Let’s not pack our own expectations into that verse.
They will never live up to what He has planned. Ever. His plans are by far better.
*disclaimer … i deal with this daily. daily, i tell you. ask those around me. they are easy to find, they are tiptoeing around me and my expectations … and giving me grace, lots and lots of grace!