I have a vivacious 17 month old daughter. Her energy, enthusiasm, and endurance make her this incredible force to be reckoned with. She is observant and tenacious. While these traits make her the closest toddler I know to Wonder Woman, they are not mirrored by her exhausted parents. Thus, comes The Tale of Wonder Toddler and the Drained Parents (working title because this mom is too tired to come up with a better one).
My husband and I lug our many heavy bags across the airport. He with the overcrowded diaper bag hanging across his shoulder, backpack filled to the brim pressing against his back, and our exactly 50 pound checked bag dragging behind him. Meanwhile, I have the small carry-on filled with only baby items, purse which could fit my child inside, and stroller with the toddler screaming to get out and be free. Can’t you see I just want freedom, Mama! she seems to screech in her babble as her arms flail about. Can’t you see I just want to run around and see the world! Yes, I see. We. All. See.
It seems as though my toddler has no idea that we are late to our flight. She seems to have no idea that Mama and Daddy are stressed trying to carry what seems like all of our belongings while running and singing the many Sofia the First songs we’ve now got memorized. She has no idea why she can’t run around in what’s clearly a play-gym filled with strangers. The rude thing.
We finally find our way to security where we received one of three looks: pity, anger, and pleaseohpleasedontmeetmygaze. Once we’ve loaded our 30 bags onto the belt while our daughter screams in our arms, we anxiously wait for each of them to come through. Yes, there’s one! Ah, there’s two! Yup, my shoes are clear! The TSA are always nice: it helps to have an adorable daughter. Then there it is, my bag get pulls to the side. Please don’t be my favorite lipstick, please don’t be my favorite lipst– yup..goodbye, Rad Rouge. We had a great time together.
We run to our gate exhausted. We’ve made it! Ten minutes to spare! We high-five each other for being the outstanding parents we are.
Then, a cloud of despair appears as the realization sets in: we’re not even halfway done. We’ve still got the four hour flight plus a layover. We give each other knowing glances saying the same thing: Can we just cry now?
Then, as the self-pity surges while my daughter begins to look at a stranger’s phone, searching for her beloved Sofia, I see you. I see you, Mom, with four kids on your own. One is eight and can help slightly, the others maybe four, two, and an infant. I see that you struggle, but you smile because your kids rely on you. I see you making games out of carrying the luggage and playing I-Spy while you feed the baby. I see you on your own, looking like you own this airport and loving your kids with everything you have. We see that you struggle and that you are tired, but your kids don’t. You are strong. You may break down later, and you deserve to be able to break down, but for now, you have this incredible strength.
Then, you take the time to say hello to my daughter after she’s run over to say hello to you. You take the time to introduce yourself and your family to us. You see us and nod. You know how it is to be us.
We appreciate you so much and we realize that things will be okay. It’s okay if we get side glances from people who don’t understand. It’s okay if we forgot a shirt or a book. It’s okay if our bag gets pulled aside and checked. It’s okay that she screams and screams because she will be okay. This too shall pass.
I see you, Airport Mom. My husband sees you. My daughter sees you. You are our hero. You are a Warrior.