This week's post was drafted at Dublin airport, as I sat on the runway, calm, cool and collected. This wasn't always the case with me and travelling, far from it in fact. Do you want to know the secret to my new found travelling tranquility? Have children. That's it, have children. I know, I know, I can hear the outcry from here. What do you mean have children? Flying with kids is a total nightmare. You are, of course, correct. There are always terrible tantrums as overtired tots lose the will to live, inevitable airsickness or exploding nappy at 30,000 feet, glares from unhappy fellow travellers as the small people become more irritable. Yeah, not fun at all, but hear me out.
I was always very proud of my childhood abroad. The show off in me adores conjuring exotic images of camping trips under the stars with nothing but camels for company, gazing over the calm waters of the gulf sea, endless BBQs and swimming pools in our back garden. Undoubtedly I always leave off one part, my embarrassing fear of flying. Let's face it, it is much less glamorous admitting that before each family holiday or when returning to the 'sand pit' I would start sweating, my stomach would churn, I would lose sleep for nights leading up to the occasion and never felt satisfied until all the flying was over. Don't get me wrong I adore arriving but travelling, hmm. The very thought of being crammed in to a tin can with 200 strangers and being launched into the atmosphere does not fill me with joy.
Yet here I am, relaxed, writing, not even remotely panicked. The reason? I have had children and I am flying without them. Every parent knows that the day you have children is the day your free time goes out the window. I don't just mean free time to go to the pub, or cinema, or dinner on a whim. I mean free time to do anything. Want to read that book you were given for Christmas? Best book in a babysitter! Dinner? The baby will wake up just as you plate up. Don't even try to go to the toilet in peace, face it, you will have an audience in that part of your day until they are teenagers. After five and a half years I needed a teeny, tiny, trip away, just a couple of days to recoup and catch up on sleep, so Dublin was booked. Heading out to the airport before my flight over here, the familiar nerves returned. How on earth was my husband going to cope without me? Would my youngest think I was abandoning her? Was I going to have the courage to get on this flight at all? You know what, as I wandered through the departure hall all worries drifted away. I bought a sandwich, and ate it, I mean all of it, no sharing required! I window shopped at the duty free, then realised I could actually go inside without small people trying to smash every bottle of perfume in sight. To top it all off- well, of course, a trip to the loo without an audience. By the time I boarded my flight I had had two hours of alone time and I was in my element! There was no one to clean up after, only people to wait on me!?! I could get used to this.
I am returning home with a spring in my step. I have had two full nights of sleep and I am not even remotely worried about the flight. I shall make the most of my last hour of calm before I meet the chaos of my overtired, over excited family in the arrivals hall. But you know what, while I have enjoyed every second of my 'me' time, I have missed the hectic toilet trips, sharing every meal, and night time wake ups. The chaos is, actually, where I really belong.