I’ve had an absolutely horrendous day, but inside my backpack, printed out this morning is the equivalent of Charlie’s golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. All day, while every possible work disaster befell me I was able to rest my foot on the backpack that held this most beautiful piece of paper. I printed it out in black and white first, but then I just had to do it in color.
Make no mistake that much must be done before the Chocolate Factory gates are thrown open. Must pack, grocery shop, change sheets for the dear sister who will be keeping children company while we’re gone. Must also try to sleep, which will be hard because A) I am excited and B) will have a hard time not thinking about the flight.
I fly more than a person who hates to fly should. My fear is very simple: that the plane will go down. But my fear is also complex: not all situations bear the same mental risk.
For example, a flight early in the morning is much more likely (in my head) to go down than a flight in the evening. A long flight is much more likely (again, only in my head) to go down than a short one. A flight to a destination? More likely to go down. A flight home? Less likely to go down.
The probability that the flight will go down is also influenced by how I have prepared my life in advance of the flight. If my house is a mess such that I’d be embarrassed for my Mom or sisters to come and complete final preparations, the plane is very likely to go down. If I have cleaned my house thoroughly and my work is at a good stopping point with few loose ends, that is much, much worse. The plane will go down for sure. There is some intermediate level of preparation between those two extremes that means the plane is more relatively safe.
A very huge swing factor is whether I am traveling with my kids. Traveling without my kids? Not safe. Traveling with my kids? Completely safe. That one puzzles me more than all of the other situations. There is a wonderful podcast called The Moth in which people tell their stories live. On The Moth, Bobby Stoddard tells a story called Flight. It’s a wonderful story and you should listen to it here. I won’t give the story away, but in the story, he explains how his feelings about flying change both from an incident that happens to him and, later, by having a child. His feelings don’t precisely describe mine, but they’re close.
I’ve thought some about why I feel confident on a plane with my kids and not confident without them. I think it comes down to how they make me feel about me. I remember when my daughter was born and I was a new mother, feeling insecure about how to be a mom. I looked at her on my lap and wailed, “I don’t know how to take care of you.” I remember the look she gave me back. It wasn’t a look of sympathy. It was a look of kicking me in the butt: “You’d better figure it out. I’m counting on you, lady.”
And I did figure it out. I learned how to take care of the regular stuff. I also learned that I had some magical stuff. I had an amazing power with my kids. I could make a hurt go away with a hug or the right words. I could help a sick child sleep just by being present. I could bring calm where no calm had been before.
I think the reason I feel confident a plane won’t go down when I’m on it with my kids is that I have the power to prevent a crash when my kids are present.
When I’m not with them, I have to depend on the plane, on mechanics, on a pilot.
So where we stand with this flight: It’s in the evening (good), long (bad), I’m overprepared (bad), I’m not with my kids (bad). Writing this post (horrible). Will delay posting it. (Good?)
I will be with my husband and we have these tickets. And that is amazing and good.
I can’t wait.