Flying solo

I'm in the airport about to board my plane. I'd forgotten how wonderful it can be to fly without a child. I'm looking forward to actually getting some work done on the flight rather than just trying to appease and entertain a squirming baby in a cramped middle seat. I think I may even have an aisle seat. Heaven!

But of course, I am tugged by a nagging feeling about leaving my baby behind. What if something happens to her while I'm away? What if her babysitter forgets to pick her up at daycare today? What if she won't take a bottle? (a likely scenario). What if she doesn't sleep at all?

My friends have tried to reassure me. "Babies and toddlers do beautifully when Mommy goes away," they say, "It's you who won't get a wink of sleep. She'll be fine."

"But MY child NEEDS me," I want to scream at them, "our bond is special. We still co-sleep, be still breast-feed. She'll be devastated. She'll feel abandoned. I'm a miserable mother for going on this trip by myself."

Then I try to remind myself that this separation had to happen sometime. And this is a short trip - just over 36 hours. It'll be a good trial run. It'll be hard, but she'll survive. Maybe she'll even do better than expected. And I'll survive too. I'll pump and dump, and one night of missed breast-feeding won't end our special bond. We'll survive. We'll thrive.

And now it's time to board my flight.


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I'd forgotten how wonderful it can be to fly without a child.

One of the best things about flying frequently with your kids is the effect on flying without them. Any time when flying along and I get seated near some kids, I find the parents frequently apologizing for noise or whatever at some point. I stare at them blankly. I haven't heard or noticed a thing!

I left my six-week-old baby at home for three days while I went overseas for a job interview. She had never taken a bottle. She only slept next to me, or on my lap. I had the bad habit of running to her after only a few minutes of crying in her father's arms.

She took a bottle. She survived, and even thrived. Co-parenting has been much, much, better and more balanced since then. (Two weeks later I went back to my postdoc job, and my husband started taking her all day every day, and that helped the balance too). My husband was exhausted when I came back, but the baby was fine.

I, on the other hand, had a hard time of it. I had only a manual pump (I have a big, heavy, rented plug-in electric breastpump that I use at work) and it felt like all I did for the whole three days was pump. I occupied the airplane bathroom for half an hour at a time to pump, and came out to a line of ten people. I ate only 2 meals a day. I took breaks from pumping to sleep and do the interview. Thank the FSM that European universities do a much shorter interview regimen than their N. American counterparts. I worried about my baby, that she wasn't eating or sleeping.

But I got the job. Tenure isn't quite the same over there, but it would be considered a tenure-track job here.

By Dr. Confused (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

It is wonderful flying without a child. It's also amazing to go grocery shopping without one - if you haven't done that in a while, I highly recommend it. :D

Your friends are right - she'll probably do fine. You're the one who'll be a nervous wreck. :D I still feel all those same nagging feelings about traveling solo, and my son is nine. (Except for the bit about breast feeding. Thankfully, he gave that up about six years ago. :D). It's good for both of us to have time apart now and again, but I'm pretty sure the worrying will never entirely go away.

I left my son overnight when he was about a year and a half old. I was traumatized and bailed on the conference a day early to come home. He, on the other hand, was fine. And it was good to train his father to be primary caregiver for a while.(Although we intended to share responsibilities equally, the combination of breast-feeding and a colicky baby and my reaction to crying (OMG I'M THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD!!!!!), I ended up being the primary caregiver.)

So have fun! Choose cool projects for awards! (This is ISEF, right?)

I don't which was worse for me- dealing with my daughter on trips when she was little, or the preparation of things to take care of her in my absence! Now, she's old enough that I don't need to prepare anything, but she's also old enough to deal with trips pretty well (she's always been a good traveler, though). You'll both be fine- try not to worry!