How early is too early to arrive at the airport; two hours, three hours? If you are taking an early morning flight and like to get there when they are washing or fueling the plane – you are there too early. If arriving before dawn, which I did tonight, chances are the place will be a ghost town with few gates open. Getting through security is a breeze but getting a cup of coffee is damn near impossible. Trudging through the dim gray lifeless terminal, I stop several times to put my large pink tote bag and luggage straps back onto my shoulder; a groggy balancing act. I knew I should have brought my suitcase with wheels. A few people are ahead of me making their way to a glowing area, the place where the journey starts or maybe ends.
I wait at the gate, people watching and typing on my computer. Across from me sits a pair of new parents with a blue stroller in front of the dad, and a lot of gear littering their space. The mom sitting a few seats away from the dad eating a yogurt, probably exhausted. It’s 3:30 in the morning. A large red bag that resembles a hockey duffle sits between them on the uncomfortable plastic airport seats, no doubt filled with baby stuff. Mom was tall and thin with shoulder length brown hair, which looked like she wore it up a lot, maybe just took it out of a ponytail. Wearing black sweatpants and a zipped-up fleece jacket, she sat staring into space. The dad is obviously on duty, looking into the stroller intermittently. He is shorter than the mom, a little hefty with sandy blonde hair, with day old stubble wearing a layered winter coat. It was a cold March night in Boston.
I could see little arms and legs flailing inside the buggy but couldn’t see a formed human. There were fussing noises coming from inside, as he reached in to relieve distress. He pulled out an alert and adorable 8-month-old baby girl. She wore a blue dress, cream tights, and a ribbon in her peach fuzz hair. The dad held her on one knee which made her shriek with delight. I can’t help but drift back in time to when my sweet angels were an armful. I’ve been there, juggling a bag of toys, diapers and Cheerios, my travel buddies for years. Then slowly over time, one by one, you would lose the rattles, then the diapers and finally the Cheerios, substituted with soft granola bars suitable for their new teeth.
I don’t know if it is because I’m so tired that I can’t stop looking at them. I didn’t sleep before leaving at 2am for my flight, running on anxiety and anticipation. Am I having a nostalgic breakdown here at the airport? My mind continues to wander.
My daydreams happen everywhere, coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, anywhere. I look at new parents like I’m an infertile woman, longing for a child. This makes no sense, as I am a middle-aged mother of two grown children. I was blessed with two sons and feel so lucky to be their mom. I’ve enjoyed them and have paid my dues; those days are over. I really don’t want another child. So, why do I do this? I think I miss having a little one. Their arms and legs full of rolls and puffy cheeks, kissing exposed knees and rolled necks. Maybe I’m trying to vicariously re-live those precious days. I want to once again feel that velvety baby skin against my face. Inhale the unbelievably clean fragrant smell of the top of their head. I want to be a grandmother.
The dad reaches into the large bag and pulls out a small plastic container of yogurt. Putting it down beside him, he balances her on his knee and opens the treat to start feeding her. Her eyes are wide and bright with wild anticipation of a creamy sweet mouthful. She starts with a shake of excitement for what is coming. A little shriek of euphoria follows as her eyes are transfixed on the spoon. Her blue eyes bulge, the arms shake like a baby bird, and the legs stiffen, ready for the first installment. I laugh a little at how cute and funny she is. The mom catches my voyeur eyes and sees how amused I am. We smile at each other. She is so proud of her child.
About eight years ago I started to think a lot about having grandchildren. It happened as the realization that my fertile years were over. My friends were becoming grandparents and were transformed into a higher being. All the fun with little responsibility; no babysitters, parent-teacher conferences, or doctor appointments. I thought a lot about my sons having kids and being there to help them. To me, it would be like having a second chance, enjoying the child of my child. Watching them create a family and care for them as I did them. However, my sons do not plan to have children, and I’m proud of them for making such an important decision. If it’s not right for them, then I totally respect that. Their happiness means more to me than anything.
There is a loud announcement that my plane is boarding. I looked up from the computer, and the new parents are gone. They slipped away without me noticing. Just like my mothering years slipped away. I hope they enjoy every step of the journey with their baby. I gather my heavy bags and decide that this is my second chance. I will live life to the fullest knowing my kids are safe and happy. I can travel anywhere I want, whenever I want. There’s great satisfaction knowing that I did everything I could to provide a happy childhood for them. I believe being a good mom is the ultimate reward. No more dreaming about things that aren’t meant to be.
I may never become a grandmother but I gave my mom two beautiful grandsons.