Several weeks ago, while navigating and orchestrating a particularly hectic morning, I found myself saying the words, "Please turn off all electronic devices and remain seated in your room until I tell you it's okay to come out." Now, these words were not spoken in anger or frustration, rather they were delivered in a calm, direct and to-the-point manner. They were words that needed to be spoken so that the arguing and bickering would cease at 7:20am and I could salvage what was left of my sanity.
After the words came forth from my mouth, I thought "Oh, God, I sounded like a flight attendant." Well, of course, being the Dalai Mama that I am, that's all I have been thinking about since then. See, when an idea pops into my head, it's all I can
obsess about. I have been rolling this idea that parenthood is like being a flight attendant around in my head for the last two weeks and quite frankly, I need to get it out onto the blog so I can move on with my life.
So here it is: Parenthood is like being a flight attendant.
1.) Before anyone boards the plane you must take care to prepare the plane for guests. You spend loads of time prepping, cleaning, and stocking the plane for take off. You stock the plane with extra pillows, blankets and barf bags.
This is akin to prepping your home for the little bundle that will soon be arriving at your home. If you are a first-timer you spend hours agonizing over the crib sheets, butt wipe warmers and changing tables. You may even partake in birthing classes and breathing technique seminars. You stock up on diapers, bottles and laundry detergent patiently awaiting the arrival of your precious bundle.
2.) The guests arrive and you smile politely and welcome them to the plane. You show them to their seat, ask if they are comfortable, and if they need an extra pillow or blanket. The guest smiles politely back and gets settled into their seat.
The day finally comes! Your sweet, precious baby that you have waited for so long is finally here. You bring them home for the first time, tuck them into their new bassinet and fuss over which blanket to use to cover them as they sweetly sleep most of the day. That innocent face as they silently sleep ensures you that life is grand and all is well with the world. You are on cloud nine.
3.) As all the guests settle in their seats, they get a little more comfortable, turning on their electronic devices, phones and iPads. You let this continue but you know in the back of your mind that, at some point, you will have to put your foot down. Just not yet. You'll let them have a little more fun before you trample their good time.
As your new baby gets comfortable in their new home, things start to change. Your little angel doesn't seem to sleep as well as those first days. In fact, your angel baby seems to have been replaced with some demon spawn that refuses to eat, sleep or be put down for more than 5 seconds. You decide to be courteous and not loose your shit just yet. It's just a phase. Right?
4.) As the pilot prepares for take off you make one last trip down the isle assisting guests. You take your position at the front of the plane to go over the emergency procedures and rules for the flight. "No smoking. No electronic devices. No getting up until I say so. Here's your emergency door. This is what you do if the plane goes down. Yada Yada Yada." The guests grumble a little at the rules but most comply and turn off their devices and buckle up. You take your seat at the front of the plane and prepare for take off.
Your little darling reaches the ripe age of two, or three for some, and things drastically change. Finally, one day, you stand up and say "NO! You can not play on the iPad! You sit down until I tell you to get up!" Your toddler grumbles a little but stays put in the naughty chair for the designated amount of time.
As you prepare your toddler for take off into life, you teach them the rules of the flight: share, take turns, don't yell, be a good citizen, don't be a butt head and be a good friend. You sit back and monitor the situations as they arise.
5.) As the plane reaches it's cruising altitude, you announce that seat belts can be removed and guests are now free to move about the cabin. You start the in-flight movie and prepare the snack cart. You have carefully prepared nutritious snacks and beverages ahead of time. You proceed to each guest to see if they would be interested in a snack or drink. Undoubtedly, the guests pass up the nutritious snacks and beverages and go straight for the soda and chips. Defeated, you serve what they are requesting.
As your toddler reaches the age of 4 or 5, you carefully meal plan. You spend hours perusing cookbooks, Pinterest and family recipes for healthy, nutritious, and exciting meals. As you spend hours preparing the said meals, without a doubt, they refuse to eat healthy foods and declare that cereal is obviously the best option. Defeated, you serve them what they are requesting.
6.) During the distribution of the snacks, you notice a scuffle in row 13 seat 2 and 3. You approach the guests to find out what is the matter. Apparently, the guest in seat 2 is taking up the armrest, half of seat 3 and is playing his music too loudly for the guest in seat 3. You diffuse the problem by offering both guests a complimentary snack and extra drink. Both parties are agreeable and the problem is solved.
About this time, maybe you have two or three children by now. The older ones have figured out how to manipulate the younger ones and fighting breaks out almost on a daily or hourly basis. You diffuse the situation with stern discipline and offer solutions to the problem. With the problem solved, you fist bump yourself for being so awesome.
7. ) As the flight approaches it's desired destination, the plane hits a bit of turbulence. You calm the guests by announcing that they need to remain calm and stay seated. You reassure them by stating that the turbulence was expected and is completely normal. They relax in knowing that your expertise will guide them. The turbulence seems to be short lived and all is well again.
The teenage years have arrived and the turbulence is plentiful. It is usually short lived but can seem very scary at the time. You provide guidance and understanding. You provide words of encouragement and support. Those teenage years can be rough with broken hearts, peer pressure and fitting in. You offer your wisdom to your children to be who they are and be damned with fitting in. They laugh at you because, of course, you are old and don't know anything. Then they realize you were right.
8.) As the flight comes to a close, you announce that again, guests need to return to their seats and turn off electronic devices. They grumble at the thought of the next twenty minutes being disconnected from their online games, friends and Facebook. But, they comply. As the plane approaches its final descent, you feel those butterflies creeping up in your stomach, preparing for the wheels to hit the ground. Alas, you are on the ground safely and then you get on the speaker again. You thank them for a pleasant flight, remind them to grab all their belongings and welcome to (city of choice).
As the teenage years come and go, you remind them of the rules and hope that everyone arrives to their destination safely. You offer final words of encouragement and hope. While the butterflies are in both of your stomachs, you will get through this together. As you help them prepare their things to send them off to college, you help to carefully fold, organize and pack their belongings. You remind them, once again, that it has been a wonderful time seeing them turn into young adults and send them on their way. You hope that they have a great time at (life direction of choice).
So, when you are in the throes of raising children, remember that it is, in fact, a very short flight and to make the best of it as it happens. Remain calm, provide direction and be there for support when needed. As we watch over them, provide for them and make the turbulence less scary, we are providing them with life skills that will make life easier in the long run. As you wave good bye and hope they have fun and be safe, remember that you did your job. You were the best flight attendant that a kid could have asked for!