It was 86 degrees and muggy at 7 AM in Chicago and I was adorned in black from fro to toe (yes, I was wearing my trademark black yoga pants…sssh). Red-faced and annoyed, I was regretting my clothing decision, but I was headed to San Francisco where it was a cloudy 62 degrees. A typical San Francisco summer day.
My hubby dropped me off at the Southwest Airlines curbside check-in, along with a wobbly stroller, overweight suitcase, car seat, a makeshift diaper bag/purse, baby carrier, my laptop bag laden with books, and my baby Violet on my hip. It was my first time flying with just Violet and I, with no help from my husband or step-son. Despite being a seasoned traveler, I was nervous how this day was going to pan out.
Check-in and security was a breeze. Thank you, TSA pre-check! (If you travel even just once a year, this is totally worth it. It’s a 5 year, $85 membership and allows you to speed through security without having to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, and jackets).
After we zoomed through security, we stopped in the nursery lounge for a speed-feed, then went on a hunt for some liquid sanity. You’d think The Rock was serving coffee that morning at Dunkin Donuts; the line was legit wrapped and twisted like the Space Mountain line in Disneyland.
“Feck it,” I muttered under my breath.
Mistake number one.
We trekked down to our gate, by this time I had put Violet in her stroller. Unlike mommy, she was happy, cooing, and shrieking excitedly through the airport. Thank you, baby Gods! As I approached the B21 gate, I could see there wasn’t an empty seat in sight. The cul-de-sac of Southwest boarding gates was overrun with bodies. People were sitting on the floor, draped over chairs, leaning against garbage cans, and doing yoga in the corridor. This did not look good.
It wasn’t more than a minute later that I received the text below:
Nearly 2 hours past the originally scheduled departure.
I had to seriously check myself before I looked up from my phone or someone would have been met with some serious stank-eye and “tired bitch face.” Y’all know us mamas don’t get rest and will never have “resting bitch face.” It would be an oxymoron.
I immediately called my husband and went on a 15-minute tirade. I’ll spare you the colorful conversation. After I ran his ear ragged, I located a seat down at another gate. By this time, Violet started getting fussy. To handle 2 1/2 more hours in the airport, I was going to need a caffeine-drip, lined with Bailey’s or some other numbing liquor.
Just as I was about to head down to Dunkin’ Donuts to see what The Rock was cookin’, my phone dinged.
Thank you, baby Jesus! Only a one hour delay, now. The morning was starting to look up.
I spent the hour pushing Violet up and down A and B terminals taking in the views of overpriced food and drink; fancy suits yelling on their cell phones, and other tough mamas trying to soothe their littles.
As I made my way back to the gate, I noticed one vacant seat at the gate. I speed-walked as fast as I could, my laptop bag and diaper bag banging on each hip.
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek,” Violet shrieked with excitement, her little hairs flying straight up in the air.
With just a few seconds to spare, a man with a briefcase plopped down in my spot.
I threw my head back in defeat. Ugh.
Immediately, the man got up and turned to look at me, then apologized to the woman seated in front of him.
After the man was out of earshot, the woman in front of me said, “I told him my daughter was sitting there. I know you probably needed that seat more than him.”
“Oh, I told him you were my daughter so he would give up the seat.”
It may have been my wack hormones, but tears formed in the corner of my eyes. This woman had my back.
“Thank you so much! You rock” was all I could muster. The timing of her kindness couldn’t have been better.
Ten minutes later, I asked her if she wanted to hold Violet so I could break down the stroller to check it at the gate.
“I’d love to! she exclaimed as she scooped up Violet from my arms.
After I organized our smorgasbord of baby supplies, it was time to board.
We bid adieu and I thanked her for saving me a seat and keeping Violet entertained.
I opted against my husband’s recommendation of walking up to a random guy to ask if he would like to board early in exchange for carrying my huge red stroller bag. Like Linus and his blankie, I dragged the big red bag on the floor behind me, Violet and my bags balanced on my shoulders and hips.
A few minutes later, a woman in the jet bridge ran up behind me to ask if I needed help carrying my bag. I gladly accepted. She picked up my bag from the floor, walked with me the rest of the way, then gently placed the bag on the right side of the boarding entryway. I thanked her.
Once again, a woman stepped in to help me.
I apologized to every other passenger as my bags and Violet’s bum bumped elbows. Finally, I found an open aisle with a young woman sitting at the window.
“Don’t worry, she’s a good traveler,” I said as we sat down tucking our bags under the seat.
“Oh, it’s okay. Don’t worry. I have a three-year-old son.”
Her words resonated like a herald angel singing.
We introduced ourselves and chatted throughout the flight about our families, jobs, and the most important: our kids. She lived in Chicago too and we even shared the same professional field. Every time Violet threw her teething ring, cereal puff, sippy cup, and everything else flying the friendly skies, my new mom friend, Candace, would scurry to the floor to grab the said item, without any urging.
She offered to hold Violet so I could go to the bathroom or whenever I needed to grab something from our bags. Violet adored her.
Whenever Candace would try to sleep, Violet would look over at her and emit her excited “sucking in air” shriek to capture her attention. Clearly, Mama wasn’t the only one who made a friend.
The four and a half hour flight literally flew by with no meltdowns, snafus, or explosion diapers.
As we began our descent into San Francisco, I shared some San Francisco insights and we exchanged numbers. After we off-boarded, Candace patiently waited with me until the airline delivered my stroller bag. Once it made its debut, she held Violet so I could put the stroller together and get Violet loaded up. After ten minutes, we parted ways and agreed to meet up soon in Chicago at a nearby pumpkin patch.
The support of these three women made my day and helped Violet and me to have a successful day of travel. Instead of turning a blind eye, they offered encouraging words and lent support to this traveling mom.
Too often, we as women, are rushing from here to there, participating in the rat race, allowing those around us to blur into the background.
We must remember to come up for air and acknowledge our fellow women around us. Make sure we are doing our part to contribute to the overall success of women. These amazing women turned this tired, heated mom’s travel woes to wows. And for that, I am so grateful.
“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”