Flying Anxiety- A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

I have to admit, before I had children, was younger and didn’t have to think about toting around multiple little people, I totally judged people that had children when I flew on an airplane.

My Mother would always remind me when I incessantly complained about children on my flight that I was once a child too and that I may or may not have been worse than what I was describing to her. She basically told me to deal with it and always told me that “someday” when I had children, I would understand.

Well, I’m here to publicly tell my Mother, yes, you were right. I totally understand. As a matter of fact, flying with children has given me the ultimate insight into myself as well as my children. There are a few ideas I have come to understand as a parent flying with children.

First, if you want a cozy, amazing, quiet flight, then you should hire a private jet. For me, I would highly suggest flying first class as I have flown with my 3 month old child so you can have more space. It’s a paid seat and nowhere in the rules of flying does it state that children are not allowed in an area that really only has differences of free food, drinks and a smaller bathroom to passenger ratio. At the time, I didn’t give two shits about it either and guess what? I had at least 2 drinks while we flew, more space and it was fantastic.

Secondly, much to your preconceived notion that I am just letting my kid kick the shit out of your seat while I just sit there twiddling my thumbs and indulging in gogo internet, I am secretly doing my best to prove to you that I am a strong boundary setting Mom by spending the several hour long flight consistently restraining my child’s legs as much as possible. I am sweating profusely while I am trying to restrain my child by the way.

Thirdly, those screams you hear? Those terrified, angry, tired, horrifying screeches coming from 24A? Yeah- my kid. Am I excited about the fact that he is currently deafening the crowd of seats around us? No. Rest assured, however, I’m doing the best I can to control the situation. One thing I will admit- I am pretty sure I will never see any of you again so do I maybe start to not give a shit if you care? Why yes, that totally happens. Did I mention that I am still sweating profusely and my anxiety is through the roof at this point?

Lastly, if you think I am going to hand out “I’m sorry my child may cry and be loud” gift bags, you are so, so wrong. Kids are kids. They are unpredictable and at best, we can hope that at least 5 minutes of that flight will promote a parent to have a moment of solace in which we can finally sip some water or even empty our bladder. If you are an empathetic person and at least have been in my shoes, or had a similar experience, then I expect empathy. If you haven’t, then I expect that I don’t see your beady, angry eyes staring at me. You get to be done with the situation after a few mere hours so get over it, put your Bose headphones on and turn up the volume. I will be staring at you with envy because quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I was even able to put on a pair of headphones during a flight and zone out. I deserve the damn swag bag.

To be completely honest, my anxiety is probably at least a million times higher than my child’s anxiety when we fly. My adrenaline is released from start to finish of the flight. I am sweating enough to endorse the use of prescription deodorant. I am anxious enough to pop several Valium and chase it with a vodka tonic.

Why do I do it? I am not going to pass up family vacations, holidays and other opportunities because I am afraid of judgmental passengers on a flight. Society continues to make it difficult for parents to feel anything but anxiety and judgment when flying.

My advice to those that get to sit and watch starts with the request for each of you to self reflect. We were all once children too and NONE of us were perfect little human beings. We were all assholes at times and if you say you weren’t, you’re a liar. Also remember, you get to leave the flight and walk away from that screaming, unruly child but I have the honor of taking them home. You more than likely never have to see me or my kid again so if it was that bad, you can at least walk away with that exciting thought running through your head.

Parents that fly with their children deserve credit and not criticism, or judgment. If you fly with your children my advice to you is do the best that you can, realize it will be over at some point, take a few deep breaths, have an in flight drink and try not to care about the people around you that you more likely than not, will never see again.

We are all amazing for raising these human beings and not every moment in life will be perfect and tolerable. We won’t regret the experiences we gain from travel and adventure as well as the influence it will have on our children.

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