Wake up at 5 as per usual and be grateful that it is not 4:30 as some mornings. Go through all the usual motions of packing lunch and a few near impossible tasks such as putting sun cream on a toddler. Shower in under two minutes (as moms do, dirty people, us), and then proceed to pack your travel bags with a baby attached to your leg. Pack faster than what your baby can unpack.
Put foot to work, literally. Rush through your ever-growing mailbox while sipping cold coffee and then run between meetings. Literally run. Everything at work is quite literal, obviously. Run, again, out of a meeting and into your car. Fetch your toddler boy child from school and fight against his directions home (“wanna go there Mommy”). Drop him off, rush to good old Woolies for much needed food, rush back home. Grab the youngest, a girl child of 14 months, plus all the luggage and feel your heart break as boy child begs “go to work Mommy”. As you descend down your stairs to your car, feel your heart being ripped out as if boy child has it firmly by a string, while he hangs onto the security gate in a desperate full body protest against your departure.
At the airport struggle with the stupid car seat that you paid a stupid fortune for and curse it, repeatedly. Load your bag, girl child’s bag and the car seat onto a trolley with girl child strapped to you like a tiny prisoner and puuuuusssshhhh! it all up the hill in the bloody hot Durban sun. Sweat like a pig. Notice how nobody offers to help.
Once you are finally through the security check, you are in the land of no trolleys. Carry two bags with girl child still strapped like a prisoner and drag the very expensive car seat behind you. Notice, again, how nobody offers to help and curse Generation Y in general. Just because. As you walk towards your boarding gate an advert plays over and over again on every tv monitor you pass – it feels like you are being cheered on and you lift your chin ever so slightly. You can do this.
At the boarding gate, girl child throws a tantrum that will make John McEnroe jealous. She just really wants to eat some of the biscuits left behind by a man with very dirty fingernails. In your head you debate your options – tantrum beats possible hepatitis or similar nasty disease. And so the tantrum is allowed to continue. What choice do you have really? Hold girl child down with one hand while making a bottle and drawing up 5ml of Panado. Seriously consider taking a swig from the Panado yourself and then remember that people are watching. End up giving girl child the bottle you had actually been saving for take-off.
Score a seat next to a very serious businessman whose mouth is a straight line and feel yourself break out in sweat and panic as girl child starts screaming even before take-off. Every time she draws breath for the next screaming bout, a toddler 5 rows behind comments: “the baby stopped crying”. This goes on for what feels like hours. All the passengers agree that the toddler is wrong – the baby did not stop crying. Inaccurate little toddler giving everyone false hope. Thank the air hostess who climbs over people to bring you some ice for your baby to play with, even though she has irritation written all over her face. And then watch in horror as girl child flings the ice against the head of serious business dude.
Spot your baby angel. Every flight has a baby angel in my experience – someone who sympathizes and offers help. Feel extreme gratitude towards this man with striped purple shirt and hair that stands up in funny little tufts like a chickens’. He sits diagonally opposite your circus of two and he tries to wave at girl child. He feels your desperation.
Depart in true pack horse style to be greeted by girl child’s grandparents and realize that it was all worth it. It better be, because you are repeating all of this in two days’ time….
BY: KAREN JACKSON