I traveled nearly 1400 miles to welcome my newest niece into the world. Well, she arrived 36 hours before I did, but she was ready for some aunt snuggles by the time I got there! Knowing what it’s like to have a newborn in the house, I knew this trip needed to be a solo trip so my crew wouldn’t add to the chaos of baby’s first week home. Solo trip?!? I just pictured myself standing in the middle of the airport singing, “I’m freeeeeeeeeeee,” Elsa style. But instead, I reflected a bit on what I learned from traveling alone (cue Anna) “for the first time in forever …”
1. Airplane bathrooms aren’t as cramped as I thought.
No, I didn’t fly first class, but hear me out. When you have had to squeeze yourself, a toddler, and a baby into an airplane lavatory while trying to keep everyone’s hands away from the toilet, the space feels quite large when it is just you inside.
2. I can be helpful.
When my husband and I travel with our kids, I find that we are the ones in need of assistance. We are the people who need extra time to get on and off the plane, whose toys and trash are scattered about, who are carrying (read: dragging) kids and luggage through the airport. We spend our time calming tantrums, shoving food in the kids faces, breaking up boys wrestling matches on the floor at the gate … All eyes are drawn on us and a few lend us their helping hands. But here, traveling alone, I was actually the one to be helpful. “You dropped your stub, ma’am!” as I bent down and picked it up. “Here, why don’t you go first?” “Can I help you with that car seat?” The mom struggling looked at me, “You must have kids.” I see you, Mama. And I know how you feel.
3. Three kids don’t overwhelm me … when they aren’t my own.
I left Louisiana feeling completely overwhelmed. The kids were constantly fighting, ignoring me when I tell them to do something, and acting like everywhere they go is a playground. I have felt so outnumbered lately! But, there I was, taking care of my sister’s kids, holding a baby, getting milk for the older girls, picking up after them, tidying, and on and on. Three kids don’t overwhelm me – when I get the “happy my aunt is in town” kids instead of my “oh, it’s just mom” kids. Also, it wasn’t my family’s schedule that I had to keep up with and that may be the most stressful part of my mom gig.
4. I didn’t actually despise washing my bowl out immediately after eating.
What a novel idea! I am the worst about rinsing the dishes after each meal and then, lo and behold, there’s a sink full of dishes when we wake up the next morning. And I’m so shocked by it every time. How?!? This week, when I was finished eating, I simply rinsed my bowl, and everyone else’s and put them in the dishwasher like a good, clean human. Why don’t I get into this habit at my own home??? It took like 30 seconds! Maybe I just saw it as something new and exciting for a few days.
5. Cleaning other people’s homes > cleaning my own
You know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. There really wasn’t much difference in the amount of mess that my sister’s kids made compared to my own. So … how is it that I can go to my sister’s house and JOYFULLY tidy and clean without it putting me in a sour mood? The answer is simple: appreciation. I just knew how happy it would make my sister if I tidied the living room before bed and she could come down in the morning with newborn in tow to a clean living room. My kids don’t appreciate a lick of what I do around the house. They most often don’t even notice! The only time they even notice our house is a mess is when I make them clean it. But knowing someone will appreciate my efforts, actually made me HAPPY to clean! Whoa. But, no one is more appreciative to have someone come clean her home for a few days than a tired mama. My kids will learn this one day … one day …
6. I don’t miss diapers.
I changed my first diaper in 3 years and, nope, I don’t miss it one bit. The newborn diaper wasn’t so bad but the toddler one? Phew … no, thank you.
7. I missed my family like crazy.
Please don’t judge me, but I was so looking forward to the vacation away from my kids. However, as soon as they dropped me off at the airport to leave, I missed them. I saw the other families on the planes and I wished mine were traveling with me. I told anyone who would listen that my 3 would be waiting for me back home. Even at my sisters when I had more than enough nieces to play with, I was wishing my kids could be enjoying this time with their cousins. It’s funny how a little time away leaves you refreshed and excited to hug their necks and get all the snuggles!
Bonus: being an aunt is really cool!
Next to being a mom, being an aunt is the next best thing! Well, I hear being a grandma is pretty amazing, but next to that! I took them to art class and Burger King to play and drink milk shakes. Best. Aunt. Ever! Or, so I’m told. I can spoil my nieces to pieces with attention and a snack without going overboard on the presents (because I get it, Sister) and they love me for it! And well, they’re just cool kids. Probably, because they have a really cool aunt (at least that’s what I’m brainwashing them to believe).