Well, we’re back.
We made it to Florida and back, minus one whole person.
I can’t say the travel was as terrible as I thought it would be, but I can say it was pretty darn close. The saving grace was that Aaron barely cried. Rachel, on the other hand, spent what seemed like 17 hours straight crying because she woke up mid-nap and couldn’t get back to sleep.
The flights were interesting—my most thought-of memory from the flight there is Rachel taking the dress off her Rapunzel Barbie (her first ever Barbie, bought in a moment of this-might-save-the-entire-trip! weakness), giggling like Beavis at the naked plastic in front of her, then proceeding to play Tune in Tokyo with it, much to the embarrassment of the mother/daughter pair waiting in line for the bathroom.
Getting off and on the planes with approximately 27 pieces of luggage while also carrying a baby and trying to get a small child to figure out that people really want off the plane once those doors open was the low point of travel. The most Lampoonish moment each way was when, on all four planes we entered and exited, I hit each and every traveler I passed in the head with my Trader Joe’s cooler and Unicorn. And probably the princess castle pillow, too, but I can’t really remember.
A close second, however, was when we literally, LITERALLY, made our flight with one minute to spare. Tied for third: returning the rental car to the wrong place, then circling the airport frantically looking for the right company while trying to get Andy’s phone to stop yelling at us to reconfigure our driving route; realizing we had one less grown-up with us to carry luggage, yet we had two additional bags; and having a flight attendant who wanted to throw all of us–okay, just me–off the plane. Oh, and they lost our luggage.
And that was just the air travel.
We now also have fond memories of taking Aaron to the ER after he possibly sustained a concussion; a one-week late car delivery that had us on the phone with everyone from the DOT to the local Sheriff’s Department; every family member but one throwing up repeatedly; and the psychotic break down I had after going six days in a row with four hours of sleep while doing various exhausting things during the day and spending nights with a ten-month-old who apparently won’t sleep in states that begin with the letter “F.”
But thankfully, we weren’t there to vacation. We were there to set up Collin in college, and that part of the trip—the most important part—was fantastic.
The housing was great, the school was great, the dorm mate was great, the shopping adventure at Publix was great…. it was truly an incredible experience setting my child up to be off in the world on his own.
Of course, it didn’t really feel like I was setting him up to be on his own. Right up until the moment it came time to say goodbye. And in that moment—the moment when I was about to get into a van and drive to an airport two hours away so I could take a flight 3000 miles across the country, knowing that I wouldn’t see my son for 3 1/2 months and there would be no one, NO ONE watching over him—THAT is when I really felt it. I cried, Collin cried, Rachel was confused, Aaron babbled, and Andy tried to keep all of us from falling apart.
And now, we’re home. I keep thinking of when we purchased our tickets to fly to Florida and back. Andy and I came within one (unconscious) mouse click of buying Collin a return ticket. As Andy said, that sort of tells you everything you need to know about parenting.
But at some point, you don’t buy the return ticket. Instead, you come home empty handed and leave them there, wherever “there” is, all alone, hoping that those few short years you had them 100% of the time will be enough to see them through.