Monday, July 1, 2013

You Can Do Anything for 16 Hours

That's what my friend Kristy told me when I mentioned I was a little nervous doing the flight from Chile to NorCal alone with the kids.  She said that no matter what happens, you focus on the prize at the end because you know it is soooo worth it.  Sounds extremely similar to this little thing called life, right? 

We'd be leaving Joe for 3 weeks and then he would come join us in California the final week.  It was hard to leave him.  The kids were devastated he couldn't come with us.  If they only knew the kind of work he had to put in while we were gone...they probably wouldn't have seen him anyway if we had stayed in Chile!  After all of the notarized letters saying Joe would allow me to take the kids out of the country, passports, birth certificates and RUT cards were checked, we were on our way.  The plane was taking off at 9pm and there were probably 10 other families from school who were on our same flight-- including our really good friends the Hamilton's!  
That eased my worry a bit.  
I got everyone situated.  Luke next to me:

 reading up on the important stuff

 and Kate and Jake in front of me:
 The kids really did a great job.  They were so excited that they had a hard time falling asleep.  They all eventually did for about 3 hours each--but those 3 hours were all at different times!  I WAS EXHAUSTED!  We were all still recovering from influenza yuck, so every time I heard Jake sneeze, I was in his face with a kleenex, making sure he didn't have noodles!  I know.  Lovely.  We landed in Dallas at 6AM and everyone cheered.  I got a little surge of energy with the thought that we were on US soil.  We got through customs and met up with the Hamiltons for breakfast.  Laura is awesome and such a big help.  Just having someone to watch your stuff while you run everyone to go pee is huge!  We took a nice leisurely walk and then an energetic tram ride to our next departures.  
 The kids were loving it, because we were the only ones in our car on the tram.  We could have ridden that thing for 5 hours and they would have been thrilled!

We all said our goodbyes and "See you in a Month" and then the Hamiltons went one way and we went another.  We were doing OK!  And then suddenly the kids began feeling the effects of their blip of a sleep and they were transforming into little people I didn't recognize and frankly, didn't necessarily care to claim.  Maybe it was my 1 hour "nap" or maybe my eyes were so dry and on fire that I really would have loved to have thrown my body on the filth-ridden airport carpet and given in to the sandman.  We were fighting over M&M's; full-on pushing and shoving with scrunched up faces to match, because one couldn't see the movie as well as the other; spilling water; and then spilling those prized M&M's which went into dark corners of the floor that I told everyone not to touch.  But little man somehow found moments when I wasn't looking and went to those places under the chairs and in the corners to eat the chocolate, leaving him with a face that I should have taken a picture of, but was too tired to do it.  We cried and whined and were all quite ashen looking.  And then, after a 3 hour layover, they announced our 3 hour flight from Dallas to San Francisco.  

 We were almost there.  I could taste it.  A little adrenalin got us all on the plane.  We got to our seats and they had a stranger sitting in between each of us.  Who does that to a woman with 3 young kids?  Would those strangers like to take care of my 2 year old and make sure that my 5 year old doesn't spill his drink all over everyone and everything?  We got it worked out.   I put Luke on my lap while we waited for the plane to take off, because I didn't want him freaking out.  The flight was full.  A woman couldn't seem to find her seat and she and about 5 flight attendants kept coming up to me asking about Luke's seat.  I explained I had paid for it-- It was Luke's seat.  The flight attendant then stands right next to me in the aisle and walkie talkies:  "I need you to check the seating of this family of 3."  I was so bugged.  First.  We were a family of 4.  Second.  Do you think I'd lie about buying a seat for my 2 year old son who in no way could pass for a baby because of his shear size???  I repeated in an un-Julie-like tone, "There are 4 of us and this is my son's seat." AHHHHHHHHHH!
And then I don't remember much else.  
We all went comatose.  
Well, at least I allowed myself to after Luke and Jake fell asleep.  Kate apparently struggled to sleep, but she didn't bother me.  Sweet thing.  I'm sure my mouth was WIDE open--slack jaw and all.  It was glorious.  Until landing.  Luke woke up and his ears must have hurt.  Because he started to scream.  And scream.  And when we landed, he was now throwing a full on tantrum that continued in the eerily quiet plane while everyone was standing, waiting to leave the aircraft.  Arms flailing, feet kicking, inconsolable.  I couldn't do anything for him.  I wasn't even able to hold him.  The sweet woman behind me said something in Spanish and patted his head, and I answered right back to her in Spanish and thought, "Oh my gosh!  That just rolled off my tongue!"  I didn't even need to think about it.  A very, very, very small silver lining at that moment.  
But we made it.  We were alive and although we probably looked like death, we were met by a glorious sight at the gate.  Kate and Jake took off running at full speed and yelling, "Momo!!!  BG!!!!!"  Couldn't help but shed a few tired tears of relief.  
Kristy was right.  It was definitely worth it :)


liz said...

I'm sorry that last part was so hard!! Glad you made it. I think the second flight is weirdly often harder than the big long overnight one, because everyone is so tired and anxious to get there. The next time will be better :)

Sue said...

Sounds like the trip from you know where. But now you've gotten to the good part! And Joe will be with you when you have to go back...


Kimberly said...

I just love you! I'm sorry for all the craziness but I just shed a tear, too, when I got to the end. Nothing like a sweet reunion! And when did Kate grow up?! (Photo on tram)

Jill said...

I'm so glad you made it! You've definitely earned your USA time. this post brought back so many memories. bad memories! :) the older your kids get, the easier it will be. I did it for 5 summers, with Jake, ages 1-5 and the summer Jake was 2, was my worst flight home. so just keep thinking, next year will be so much easier. by the time he was five and the others were 9 and 11, I was thinking, "this is a piece of cake!"