I’m writing this from a sun lounger on the patio of my father-in-law’s flat in Ballito, a small sea-side town on the Natal north coast. It’s a glorious day, Cam is having a morning nap and my view is of the sparkling blue Indian Ocean. As I slip into holiday mode, the drama of getting here is rapidly fading from my mind so I’d best get this written before it disappears for good!
It’s a seven-hour drive from Pretoria to Ballito so we decided that Colin would drive down with a car full of baby- related paraphernalia and Cam and I would take the 45 minute flight later that afternoon. I was a bit nervous of flying by myself with Cam as I just had no idea how he would handle it. But I’d received some great advice from others and I figured that even if he did go Banshee Baby on me it’s the shortest possible flight we could take so I’d survive it.
Colin left at about 07:30 and at 14:00 his mom arrived to drive me to the airport. We checked in without incident and I was feeling pretty good as I strolled to the gate. I had my cute baby all dressed up in his Man United baby grow (ready to impress his grandfather on arrival), I felt I’d got the right mix of cool-yet-functional style going with my Gap shorts and black feeding T-shirt and my stylish nappy bag was well packed for any eventuality. As I boarded the flight I learnt how helpful people are to a mom travelling with a baby and I settled into my window seat marvelling at the kindness of the human race.
However the real danger lay ahead and I got busy preparing it. I gave Cam some Panado for his ears. I clipped his dummy to his shirt for easy access. As we started moving toward the runway I gave him his bottle and he slurped away merrily during take off so we were soon airborne without any fuss at all. I breathed a sigh of relief – part one was over!
Soon thereafter however, things went awry. We’d just reached cruising altitude when I felt a soft phit phit on my lap. I don’t know if it was the pressure or just ironic timing but Cam chose that moment to unleash a poop that I think had been building up for three days. I lifted him off my lap to inspect the damage and to my horror saw that his baby grow was soaked through and that the sling, blanket and unprotected area of my shorts was smeared with mustard-coloured gunge.
Gathering up my stinking baby, I manoeuvred myself out into the aisle while trying to cover up the worst of the poop with the blanket. I made my way to the toilet, where a helpful air hostess had already set up the diaper board for me. I then spent 10 minutes hogging the bathroom while I gave Cam not just a nappy change, but a sponge bath too in a space barely large enough to turn around in. When I eventually emerged those waiting in the queue gave me a few odd looks which is hardly surprising as I’d been giggling manically to myself all the while. The irony after last week’s explosion was just too much!
I made my way back down the aisle with my Gap shorts looking distinctly worse for wear and Cam no longer the most adorable Man U fan – so much for my ‘cool mom’ image! I threw all semblance of dignity out the window and made a joke of my poopy shorts to my neighbour as I squished back into my seat. We got chatting and I barely noticed the descent, which mercifully Cam survived without tears as he finished his bottle while we landed.
Yesterday’s flight called on many of the traits that I’ve learnt a mom needs in my four months of mothering – flexibility, humility, patience, planning and most importantly a sense of humour. And last night as I unpacked, bathed Cam, put him down and did an unexpected load of washing, I realised something else – holidays for moms still involve an awful lot of work! But my final epiphany for the day was a lot more encouraging – there’s not a lot a glass of wine in the jacuzzi can’t fix! Especially if you can hear waves breaking on the beach and ten days of holiday lies ahead.