Issue 49



                Traveling alone with my son has been one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.  Every father should be required to go through it.

                I say this because I have returned enlightened. Let me illustrate this with an example.  When Rebecca leaves Skylar with me while she runs errands or goes to a movie with a friend, the most important sanity anchor I have as a man is the clock.  Forty-five minutes, I think as I stare at the red LED numbers.  I only have to survive another forty-five minutes and then Mommy will be home.

                For men, watching a child is a matter of survival: surviving until your relief comes.  But who acts as relief to the moms of the world?

                Six days on the road, just my son and me, gave me a new appreciation for what Rebecca does every day of the week.

                The funny thing about traveling alone with a child is how people treat you. I had two carry bags: the one that would fit under the seat that held a bottle, a couple of diapers and wipes, toys, pictures of Mommy, and cookies; and the Heavy bag with enough supplies that if the plane crashed on a desert island, Skylar would be set for a month.  Boarding the plane, I carried the two bags, an umbrella stroller, and oh yeah, Skylar too.  Surprising to me, every time I got onto a plane during my trip, someone would offer to help me.  Even more surprising to me, it was always a woman who offered.  And she always insisted on taking the Heavy bag.

                I guess guys don’t really help guys.  If we see another guy standing next to a broken down car on the side of the road, we think, “He’s a guy.  He can take care of himself,”  and we drive on. In this light I suppose it makes sense that only women would have helped me out because it would have never occurred to another guy.  Women, on the other hand, can’t help but watch a single dad.  Some of them tried to pretend that they weren’t watching me as they cringed every time Skylar dangled precariously in my arms.  Most of them smiled and felt pity for my son.  The ones who offered to help had probably been on their own before and knew just how wonderful every bit of help is.

                It took a great act of will to allow a woman to help me.  I’m a guy, and that means that I’m supposed to be self-sufficient.  After all, I shouldn’t have brought so much stuff if I couldn’t carry it all at the same time.  But I had decided that this trip was to be an adventure.  Since I was already trying something so avante gard as traveling without Mom, I decided to try something else I felt ran so against the grain of being a guy: I promised myself that I would not refuse a single offer of help.

                Let me put this in other terms: I let a woman old enough to be my mother struggle to get my bags out of the overhead compartment while I sat with Skylar in my seat.  This is an experience I will not soon forget.

                I have always held mothers in deep awe.  They have built up an amazing reserve of talents, such as eyes in the back of their heads and a third arm for managing the impossible.  Mommies also have an incredible ability to calm children screaming beyond insanity that makes fathers feel so inadequate in comparison.  And, many times, Moms have to mommy the fathers as well.  But then, I wonder, who mommies the Mommies?

                Let me give this thought another perspective: Of everything I learned on this trip, I would have to say that the most incredible thing I learned about myself is that I am capable of using a airplane lavatory while holding a hungry twenty-four pound toddler during heavy turbulance.  For women, this feat is par for the course.

                I’m happy to report that Skylar and I survived our week traveling together, despite numerous bumps and bruises. We even made a few friends.  But not only did I bond with my son in an intense and incredible experience, I gained, first hand, insight into just how strong Skylar’s mother really is.

                And I learned that perhaps, I too, possess such strength.


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