I’d been planning to do some traveling during my maternity leave, and knew it would probably be just Baby and me since Mat would be in school. At one point, in a flash of madness (blame the pregnancy hormones?), I thought it’d be fun to do the Camino de Santiago in Spain - 100+ kilometers of walking - baby-in-tow, with my dad… He laughed incredulously and appropriately at that idea.
A more feasible goal was to take Benji to New Mexico for Thanksgiving. (I still want to do the Camino though! I’m looking at you, Pops.)
It was something of an adventure, though, since it was Benji’s first plane trip, and I was literally flying solo, er… solo-parent. (Har har.)
I was mostly excited for it, if only a little stressed about the potential uncontrollable-crying-baby-in-a-tin-tube-with-strangers, and the fact that I would have to endure the judgy, angry-death-staring passengers alone. To that end, we splurged a bit and got a full ticketed seat for the baby. He’s already difficult to get to sleep in a normal situation, and I just knew it’d be that much harder on a plane, in my lap, with no room to relax or get comfortable. (A pitfall of sleep training is that he only knows how to sleep in a bed! Long gone are the days he’s fallen asleep in anyone’s arms.)
And as it turned out, having the extra seat was a life-saver traveling alone with a 6-month-old. I brought the carseat on-board and he slept the whole time! There was a moment, on one flight that was taking a few minutes too long to leave the gate, where he was so tired that the fussiness started shooting out in inconsolable screams; he wouldn’t nurse, wouldn’t take a pacifier, or a toy…MY NIGHTMARE WAS COMING TRUE. Finally I had to plop him in his seat while I fished frantically for an emergency cracker conveniently located at the bottom of a bag in the bottom of another bag and voilà… before I could even open the wrapper he was out like a light. SWEET RELIEF. The whole episode couldn’t have lasted more than 15 minutes, but it was of course an eternity in the moment!
The trip itself was a much needed escape from the crazy upheavals we’d been experiencing after the fire. Mat was able to get some rest and catch up on his studies while Benji and I got some sunshine. My gosh, how we Southwesterners take for granted the ease of stepping outside in winter! A quick jacket and you’re out the door… forget 15 minutes of layering yourself and then also wrapping the baby up in a marshmallow. And then, when you get outside… the stroller just GLIDES EFFORTLESSLY down the street/sidewalk/path… no snowy, icy matter to push through!
(I’m not complaining, ok? Ok.)
It felt so good to see everyone and introduce Benji to some more of his US family and friends. I think he really enjoyed the array of “American activities” - restaurant dining, shopping trips to Target… so many new experiences! (He was well-behaved in Target… not so much in the restaurants…)
Thanksgiving itself was a little slice of mayhem. He hadn’t slept well that morning and for whatever reason I completely didn’t catch the bad timing of our meal reservation (Thanksgiving for us was in a restaurant this year!) which fell right during his very crucial afternoon nap (especially crucial since he hadn’t slept the morning). So we ended up with about 10 minutes of peace before everything went crazy and we were all taking turns trying to entertain him as he spiraled deeper and deeper into grouchiness until finally we had to sprint outta there. Thankfully, there were others in our party with small children who wanted to finish up quickly. Needless to say, it qualifies as one of those “quintessential American Thanksgivings” that becomes more about the story, post-mortem, than enjoying it in the moment. (“We’ll laugh about this later!”)
But most importantly, we got to see beloved family and friends - which is what Thanksgiving is all about anyway! - and spend time outside breathing in that fresh mountain air.
Another very important, classic New Mexican activity is eating a breakfast burrito, which Benji did not. But I wanted a picture to send to Mat and so ended up yanking it out of his mouth mid-bite…I hadn’t actually expected him to want any. (Though I have no idea why, he puts everything in his mouth anyway!)
Poor guy, he was really getting into that bite. Next time, Benji boy, I will let you follow through!