Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dear God (one more thing)

Dear God, Father in Heaven.

It's me again.

I'm not entirely sure what happened but yesterday afternoon - and all day today (minus that one wake-up call at 3:07 AM by a child screaming and frantically searching for her bunny that woke up the entire house), our three-year-old children have been awesome.

They come when I call them and they actually listen to me. And then, as if that wasn't enough, they have been sharing with each other - and so full of compassion - one might think I had little Peace Corp recruits in training.

So for all of that, a huge thanks.

But, now I really need Your help with something else.

Yesterday, when I was feeling a little overwhelmed after the tough morning I'd had?

Well, I decided that I needed a vacation. So, I went online and without really giving too much thought to what I was doing, booked a couple plane reservations to Florida to visit my mother and Jim.

In less than two weeks, I'm due to get on a plane with my seven-month-old son and my three-year-old daughter (the one that usually drives me crazy but I really think that she needs some one-on-one time with me) and fly all the way across this great country ... stopping once in Texas ... and arriving in Florida nine hours later. And then after a week, I'm getting back on a plane ... flying all the way across this great country ... stopping once in Texas ... and arriving in California 10 hours later.

While I'm visiting my mom and Jim, Charlie is taking our other two children and driving 10+ hours north to San Francisco for a week to visit his family - and hopefully - attend his father's 80th birthday party.

As I was purchasing the tickets, I was so nervous the sweat was actually dripping off my hands and splashing on the keyboard. Because, seriously!! What was I thinking?! I'm scared to death of flying - and now I'm doing this by myself with my TWO precious children?!!

My mother thinks the reason that I'm so nervous is because I'm lactating. I think the reason that I'm so nervous is because someone told me that I was going to DIE in a plane crash. Either way, whenever I think about getting on a plane with my two babies, I feel like I am going to throw up. Moreover, whenever I think about my husband driving 10+ hours in a car, on busy California freeways, I feel like I am going to throw up.

Because the fact is?

It seems that I am terribly afraid something is going to happen to one of us. Or, one of our kids. Or, all of us, and maybe the best thing is for us to stay home and have a vacation "camping trip" in a tent set up in our backyard. Then, I just have to hope that a plane won't crash in to the house or that an asteroid or satellite doesn't race through the earth's atmosphere and kill us. Because, I seem to worry about that kind of stuff, too.

Lord, what's happened to me?

What happened to the person that would take risks? The person that once actually wanted to get their pilot's license and fly planes? The person that would kayak and snorkel and dive off boats in the middle of the ocean and not once, think seriously about the man-eating-beasts that live just beneath the waves?

These days, my idea of risk is driving to Blockbuster at night. In the rain.

So Lord, please help me to relax a little. Or, at least send me a sign that Charlie and I will live long enough to see all of our children pay off their mortgages, our grandchildren graduate from college, an end to premature births and hunger, and peace on earth.

And then, please help me to mentally survive a 3,000-mile plane trip with two little ones. I'm not really sure why I thought that leaving a place where it's 85-degrees and there are palm trees blowing in the breeze so I could FLY someplace where it's 85-degrees with palm trees blowing in the breeze would be a "vacation", but I think I ate too many M&M's and the sugar caused a short circuit in my thought-processing-apparatus.

Thank you. Amen.


  1. What happened? Dear Jenn You had Children :)

  2. Not to make matters worse, but I can't help myself...

    Maybe you aren't as scared to fly as I am because I would rather spend a bazillion dollars and have a direct flight. A layover means another take off and landing. To top it off, going without another adult means you can't overdose on valium and wine (yes it is dangerous to combine the two, and I don't recommend it, but that is the only thing that takes the edge off for me; it hardly even takes the edge off).


    As everyone always says, "you'll be fine."

    Tracy B

  3. A direct flight isn't available out of San Diego. I'd have to drive all the way to LAX, and even then, I'd be on a red-eye. Getting off the plane once midway and kissing the ground I think is a good thing. Plus, it will give everyone a chance to stretch.

    I looked in taking the train but that would have taken me three days.

  4. YOU'LL BE FINE! GOOD FOR YOU! I am so proud of you for taking a vacation. You deserve it! You are going to be fine. Charlie will be fine. I'm so excited for you!

  5. I hear you Jen.

    My husband and I will be flying to London from Australia in about a month, with our two boys aged 4 and 2.

    I can't bring myself to add up the hours on the flight (suffice to say it is more than 24).

    I am not so terrified of the plane crashing as I am about keeping the kids entertained.

    So I will look forward with interest to reading about how it goes.

    Good luck!


  6. Oh my good gravy, you are brave. And so is Charlie. The tickets are bought. There's no turning back now.

    Once you're there, it will be so worth it. You'll have 3 adults to 2 children. That's a pretty good ratio, if you ask me. Good luck!

    -By the way, are you having another Q & A soon?

  7. Lactating and nervousness....I'm confused! Once again, you have out done yourself with this post.

  8. Yup, it's because you became a mother. I even worry about amusement park rides now. And the day the kids went on a field trip in a bus without me for the first time I thought I might burst into flame from worry.
    Jenna-the train? It might derail. Into water. With alligators.

  9. You came to the right woman.
    Here's an analogy. After I divorced I was TERRIFIED times 100 of getting back into the dating scene. Just seeing a man in the line next to me at the store invoked fear in me you can't even believe. And I felt so stupid about it too. I "knew" I was safe .. it was just a n unreasonable fear I had. All it took to get over it was to jump in. Feel the fear, and let it pass, which it did in minutes. I just had to "feel" the panic rise when a man spoke to me and let it go again ... because AMAZINGLY it just ebbed away as fast as it came! Fear is just "anticipation of pain" ... but what if you just anticipated SOMETHING ELSE? Do you trust God? Will it be "your time to go" WHERE EVER you are at that time? Most likely. So you may as well trust Him to keep you safe in reasonably safe places. You might be asking Him for too much if you were taking the kids to a war zone ... but on a plane? That would be a reasonable expectation. And can God keep you safe? Does He have that kind of power? Of course. So let it go and leave it to Him. And enjoy the planning for fun times on the plane. Bring things you all like to munch on. That is number one. Bring something you can suck on because sucking stimulates the relaxation response in our long muscles. Bring books, crayons, little games ... things to occupy the time, and enjoy the amazing view from the window because there is nothing more beautiful than a sky high view of God's creations. It's amazing.
    And just remember that you are getting freaked out about something that isn't even happening yet. Today you are fine. Today you are in your house. Don't even THINK about the flight until you get there, except to think of what fun you guys are going to have watching movies and munching on fun snacks that you all love. And once you get on the plane, just breathe. Drink soda, eat crackers, and let the feeling of fear pass ... because it will if you just let it go. If you think you will be ill, bring soda crackers and ginger ale in your bag. Salt and ginger are natural cures for motion sickness. I also like to chew on something. Chewing is like magic for me.
    You will be fine. Think of it as an opportunity to teach the kids to face their fears. You might not talk to them about it BEFORE the trip ... but after ... when they are older. When flying has gotten easy for you because you have done it so many times.
    p.s. Bring a back pack for each kid to keep under the seat in front of them ... easy access to their snacks and toys. And let the skycap take your bags. Kids in lines are no fun. Go overboard on snacks and drinks. And if it's Jetblue you are flying on, relax! Each headrest has a tv in it. My little guy zoned out the WHOLE WAY each time. Florida, Bahamas, Washington ... he loves flying. I think kids have a natural love of looking out the windows. They'll be fine.

  10. Well, my husband thinks the reason we put 4000 miles, give or take, on our minivan last summer was because it would have been rediculously expensive to fly 6 people to Florida then to Colorado for our dual vacation. I know the real truth -- I was terrified of the idea of putting all of us on a plane together. I used to fly a lot, never loved it, but in recent years am growing increasingly phobic.

    So yeah, driving from Mass to Florida to Colorado and back home with 4 kids 8 and under was WAY preferable to flying.

    I hear ya.

  11. Just imagine if it were all 4!!

    I have been reading your blog for a while but I am pretty sure I havent commented. I want to let you know that I think you are a great mom and a great writer and that someday, when I have kids, I hope that I can be as good of a mother as you are.

  12. I'm deathly afraid of flying too (one of my many, many worries haha), and I have to do it in May because I'm going to Jamaica with my family for a week. Most people would just be bouncing off the walls excited to be going to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, paid for by your parents... but I can't get over thinking about the plane.

    What I keep telling myself to calm down though, is that you have to just go for things in life. You can worry and worry and worry until you just can't take it anymore, or you can just get out there and LIVE. And I think that with Faith, and with the right attitude, you can handle anything. So even though you're worried, just get on that plane and go for it!

    A billion-ka-jillion people fly EVERY SINGLE DAY, so even though it's scary - it's actually quite a safe way to travel.

    This is the crap I tell myself. LOL. But it seems to help me, maybe it'll help you too.

  13. the stop is smart. your daughter will get to run around a bit and you'll get to stretch a bit, as you said. plus, the highlight of flying for kids is the take-off and landing. Does your daughter like stickers? I'd take lots of stickers if so. Peanut loves stickers and they keep her busy for at least 20 good, quiet minutes. ColorForms are good too, as is an Etch-A-Sketch. Good luck. Haven't braved a flight with mine yet.

  14. You make me laugh! But I can relate as I have found myself being WAAAAYYYY more worried all the time and sometimes I have almost anxiety attacks thinking about what "could happen"

  15. I think you're in for an amazing trip! Your daughter (you didn't say which one) will probably really enjoy the time bonding with you and being your big girl helper with the baby and bags and everything!

    Can't wait to see pix!

  16. You can do this! I have a lot of tips on traveling with kids since I've been doing it for almost 10 yrs. (ack!).

    Best tip: giftwrap everything! I'm talking snacks, books, toys, etc. The toys don't have to be new but it's the fun of unwrapping. Travel Magnadoodle is the best (Etch-a-sketch is hard for 3yo's); mini playdough (Target has some small containers with fun stamper lids in single packs); Crayola Color wonder (so you don't end up with broken/melted crayons). And unless Benedryl makes you crew act wonky, use it. It keeps everything draining and a little nap doesn't hurt.

    ENJOY your trip :)

  17. Try to get the bulkhead seats. There's nobody in front of you and it makes for a small play area - just bring an old blanket for the nasty floor! There's no storage under the seats, so when you pre-board take your whole overhead storage area! Good luck!

  18. Hi Jen-
    I wanted to tell you that in direct response to your sleep training of Henry, I have done the same with my 9month old baby Camille, and last night (her third night) she slept from 7.15 to 5 am without a wake up. I woke up several times leaking milk everywhere, but she did not. Yahoo! I am actually fairly happy to feed her at 5am, as this ensures another 1.5-2hrs of sleep (and her crying at that time can and does wake the other kids up)
    Thank you for your blogging. Its really helpful to have some-one talk about controlled crying in a positive way.
    Rebecca D

  19. I'm scared for you too!  But you are so good about getting all 4 out that I'm sure you can do it with only 2!! 

  20. okay. think of it THIS way! you are doing your children an IMMENSE, IMMENSE favor. i never flew until i was 19 - and now i hate flying. rationally, i know just how safe it is. but bc i never did it, it's still an irrational fear. and all my friends who flew as children don't even think twice about it. so you're giving your kids a gift - bc flying is inevitable, esp. these days - and when they're older, it'll be old hat. which is something i envy.

    today i'm leaving for bahrain in the persian gulf (second trip to middle east, i was in dubai last month) and i hate to fly. buuut i have three flights ahead of me in the next 24 hours - two of them each six hours long!! and i hate to fly! anyway, we have to just do it.
    and keep thinking about what an amazing gift you're giving the kids. way to go!!

  21. I hope you have a great trip!

    I have the same fears as you... about things that could happen when we fly or drive or just walk down the sidewalk. Whenever I'm going on a trip (flying or driving) I can't sleep for nights before we leave because I'm so nervous about something happening. I think it's even worse when you travel alone with kids. I always feel like I'm not in control anymore! (Not that I ever really am in control though!)

    I swore I'd never fly again after my last trip (me and 8-mo twins.) Getting through airport security was a nightmare, boarding the plane was a PITA, and I just don't have much patience anymore. (Because I had to stop praying for it!)

    Hopefully you will have a smooth, easy trip with no hassles from airport security! Have a great time! I think you desreve a nice vacation.

  22. This will be Elizabeth's FIFTH experience flying cross-country (TENTH if you count one way). These kids have flown a lot in their little lives and I have flown a lot in my life with trips from SC >> MA and CA >> SC >> MA.

    It's just that dumb premonition from 10th grade that sticks with me. Stupid, I know. But it's there, even though it doesn't keep me from flying - it scares the bejeepers out of me every time I book a fight. Flying over the ocean doesn't scare me as much as land b/c I would think the chances of survival are better than if you hit a mountain!!

    It's like someone telling you that you're going to be hit by a bus when you're crossing the street. Every time you go to cross a street, it will be on your mind and you'll look extra closely for buses.

    With all the traveling we've done with children, I reserved seats at the FAR back of the plane. I like being close to the restrooms and galley so that we can get out and walk around.

    Soon, I'll write up all of our tricks for flying with kids. Maybe once this feeling of nausea passes. If it does...

  23. You aren't the only one with these fears. My hubby and I are also taking a much needed vacation next week and as excited as I am to go, I'm so scared to fly (I've only done it once). We are leaving the kids and I am even having a will drawn up before we leave just in case. Also, this is way off the subject but what kind of vehicle do you have? It looks so much easier to get the kids in the back than ours is.


  24. I know what you mean, about the overwhelming fears that bad things will happen. And part of it may be hormonal - I was never so emotional and fearful as in the first year or so after our babies were born.
    But I think these two trips sound like wonderful gifts for your children. It's so fun to break out of your usual household routine (or rut, in my case) and do things for fun. They will love the close attention and time with just one parent and 2 kids together. You and your husband will have the fun of visiting extended family and getting some hands on help. It all sounds like a GOOD idea - really!

    For the long trips, you can have fun packing a carry-on bag with activities and small toys and snacks. Bring extra stuff, more than you think you'll need, in case of delays. Get something NEW that they haven't played with before, however simple. A blank notebook and pencil, some stickers, some new washable markers, or one of those magic-pen books are great. Some small toys like FP Little People, hotwheels cars, a small stuffed toy, a mini flashlight are great. And they could each bring one favourite stuffed toy and one favourite blanket, to make naps on the plane, in the car or at a strange house more comfortable. Give the kids a backpack to carry around their new treasures.
    We try to choose snacks that are not too messy, especially no staining. Raisins and other dried fruit, crackers and cookies, maybe some cheese? Milk is good to drink. Not too much sugar or they will get cranky later. Lollipops are pretty good in the plane during descent, because they last a while. Nursing or a bottle of water is good for baby. Try to have one change of clothing for each of you, in case of spills or accidents. Sorry if you know all those things already!

    Wishing you a very good trip!

  25. It looks like He decided you had enough patience. Perhaps He was really listening and gave you what you really wanted!

  26. I just read your response to my post. I guess you picked the best way to get there considering all other circumstances.

    I don't know what sounds worse a layover or a 3 day train trip.

    Can't wait to hear how it goes.


  27. Jen,

    How long is your stop in TX and where is it? Houston?

    I bet ya'll will have an awesome trip! Enjoy every minute of it!