For years, we considered moving to a warmer climate but I always hesitated because I knew it would be really difficult. That all changed In December when my husband got a job offer in Texas and we decided to go for it.
The new job required him to move an entire month ahead of us (our six year-old son, one year-old daughter and me). He left right after Christmas.
I would’ve had an easier time living in a cage trying to domesticate a pack of wolves for an entire month. There were viruses, sleepless nights, iced-over driveways and cancelled school days. But no toys - - those were packed in boxes.
Before my husband left for Texas, I had been on a strict gluten-free, preservative-free, dairy-free diet. I looked like the Crypt-keeper, but I was feeling great. I had never eaten chocolate or drank coffee in the first place because they made me feel downright insane. And greasy foods never agreed with me either.
I was in good shape and everything was under control. Until it wasn’t.
It started with bad breakfast decisions. One morning, I ate a pound of bacon and drank a full cup of black coffee. The entire pound. Nothing else. No sides, no toast. I should’ve just eaten a catcher’s mitt.
Moving day finally came and I arrived at Detroit Metro airport with just a backpack and my children. Our backpack contained birth certificates and passports along with tiny trinkets, suckers and snacks. I was a little worried TSA was going to question a woman with 2 small kids and a backpack containing our entire identities. But that would make too much sense.
Safely across the TSA threshold, the 3 of us settled into our two airplane seats. As the plane was taking off, I glanced across the aisle and saw a nun in full habit. On cue, she closed her eyes, made the sign of the cross and kissed her religious medal. Wait for it… then she began mouthing a prayer.
At that point, I thought Samuel L. Jackson was going to yell out “there’s m-f’in snakes on this m-f’in plane!”
Did I mention that my one year-old daughter doesn’t sit still? EVER? I sweated my way through that flight, pulling tricks out of the backpack like an amateur magician. I could make a quarter disappear...I could make an oragami bird out of a candy wrapper...I could get a sucker out of my own hair.
The nun’s prayers must’ve been answered because the longest flight of my life was about to land. I had kept my daughter under control and I was feeling victorious. Her little feet dangled off the side of my lap while the plane descended.
Then I heard it. “KHHHT! Ma’am, keep the baby on your lap.” I looked straight up the aisle to see a sour-faced stewardess looking right back at me. Really? Realllly?! Clearly, she never was a bored one year-old. She was probably born wearing tiny black pumps, an infant skirt-suit and a tidy French twist.
Anyway… Hurray, we made it to Texas! The sun was shining and we were all happy to see my husband. But, it wasn’t all wine and roses. The next few weeks were spent in a hotel because a pipe burst in our new house.
Up to this point, the only fast food my kids had ever eaten were pancakes from McDonald’s a couple of times. That changed quickly. I knew it was getting bad when my son opened his car door and a Wendy’s wrapper flew out.
I used to think fast food was the devil. Now, I realize Ronald McDonald is out there on the front lines saving the lives of desperate parents every day. That freaky clown is a damn American hero.
It’s funny how a little pressure can bring out parts of yourself that you didn’t even know existed. I have always been pretty good in an emergency situation but this time I found myself saying things like, “I don’t have time for feelings!” And, “My eyeballs are going to shoot out of my head.” (These are actual quotes.)
In fact, for the majority of the move, I looked like Doc from Back to the Future. Poppy eyes and frizzy hair, all hopped up on my new coffee habit. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. In my mind, the only thing worse than dying is dying with regrets. And the only thing worse than moving is moving with kids.
(The above photo was taken on a more recent flight but it really captures the essence of traveling with a toddler.)