Dear Sadie: Learning to Fly

Hi Sweet Girl.

Can it be that it’s been SIX weeks since I last wrote to you? Since I wrote anything at all? I guess we better get caught up.

We welcomed your seven-month milestone on Poipu Beach, Kauai. We spent two weeks there with Grandma Mary and Grandpa Mike. In the days and weeks leading up to our departure, as I gathered sun hats and organic sunscreen and checked and double checked that everything we couldn’t replace at WalMart or Costco was packed, I began to grow anxious about your first flight. A 5.5-6 hour jaunt across the ocean felt daunting with a curious girl like yourself. What if your ears hurt? What if you got sick? What if you had a massive diaper blowout? What if you screamed incessantly from takeoff to landing?

To complicate matters and add to my anxiety, we had been house-hunting for a few months before our trip, and the DAY BEFORE we left, we found one we liked. So as you slept your first 8-hour night in months, Daddy and I scrambled around the house, printing, signing, and scanning documents in addition to the chaos of packing for our first trip with a baby. As you’ll know by the time you read this, we didn’t end up buying that house, but that’s another story for another day.

The morning we left, you were still sleeping peacefully when it came time to wake you at 5:30am. As you do every day, you woke up smiling and kicked and rolled around while I dressed you in your pre-planned “plane outfit.” We drove our own car to the airport and parked in one of those offsite lots. Daddy dropped me off with you in your stroller and all of our luggage, and due to traffic around the airport, took a LONG time to get back. It was during this time that I learned our direct flight was not going to be direct. Due to extreme headwinds, we’d have to stop in San Jose, CA for fuel.

This really sent me into something of a panic attack. I had only planned for 6 hours, and one flight! One take-off, and one descent that might hurt your ears. I was assured that it would be a quick stop, etc, but I was still a little concerned.

When Daddy finally got back from dropping off the car, I put you in the Ergo and we navigated a painfully long security line, well aware of the face that our flight had already started boarding. We took the tram out to our gate, where the boarding area was empty save for another family like ours. We wrestled your car seat into its “gate check” bag and boarded the plane.

As we made our way to our seats, pretty much everyone smiled at you and commented on how cute you are, but I could feel their thinly veiled suspicion; They shared my fears that you would in fact scream incessantly through BOTH legs of the flight.

As the engines roared and we left the ground, I expected you to be scared or cry. Instead you stared out the window, with that quiet curiosity that I love so much about you. You are an observer first, always.  In every new situation, you spend time taking in your surroundings, seemingly determining in your own mind that everything is just fine. Once you’ve done that, you start to warm up. You begin smiling and babbling, and the rest of the world gets to see the side of you that we get to experience all the time.

Your first flight was no different! Within twenty minutes of taking off, you were smiling and babbling to our seat mate in the aisle seat, and charming fellow passengers in the row behind us. You were BUSY. Grabbing at everything, lunging for our food and drinks, and taking great care to drop as many items as possible on the filthy airplane floor. The ride to San Jose was short, so it wasn’t long before I was holding my breath waiting to see how you’d handle the descent. You were completely unfazed! The “quick” stop in San Jose lasted over an hour, during which time we had to stay on the plane. We passed you back and forth, and you were in people-watching heaven as everyone on board seemed to feel the need to stand up in the aisle. It was during this stop, and while everyone crowded the aisle, that we discovered one of my fears had in fact come true: The Blowout. So as a family, we made our way to the restroom. Daddy stood in the hall so he could hand me supplies while I cleaned you up on the cookie sheet of a changing table in the bathroom. You were NOT pleased, and for the first time that day, our fellow travelers got to hear your lungs in action.

Finally we took off again, bound for Kauai. You continued playing, eating, occasionally dozing, and charming until we touched down in one of my favorite places in the world. We did it! We survived. We spent over NINE hours on that plane, and you were an absolute champ the whole time. Next time, London! Tokyo!

That first flight was just another opportunity for you to teach me, my sweet girl, and remind me that the vast majority of the things I fear, both for me and for you, are either not going to happen at all, or be totally manageable if they do. You keep showing me that you are more than able to handle the unfamiliar. Each time we do something new, like the nursery at church or a flight across the Pacific, you surprise me with your sweet, inquisitive nature, and the way you look at the world with wide and welcoming eyes. I know this comes from the fact that you haven’t really known the kind of hurt or fear that would give you pause. It affirms that we’re doing okay as parents, knowing that you trust us so implicitly, that our mere presence for you means everything MUST be fine. Recognizing that, I’m understanding that I can’t let my own fears hold me back from showing you things you should see, and doing things you should do. I know one day you’ll lose some innocence and realize that even with me by your side, the world is a scary place sometimes. My heart hurts for that day, but in the meantime, I hope I can help you learn to be brave and adventurous and unafraid of what’s new and different.

God knows you’re helping me.

Love you forever,

Mommy

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