Originally published in the November 2015 edition of 605 Magazine.
We left on a jet plane. Unlike the song, we knew when we were coming back again. But, nonetheless, we left on a jet plane, to New York City, with two young children in tow. “Are we crazy?” we thought as we pulled into the parking lot at Sioux Falls Regional airport. Probably. But our bags were packed, we were ready to go. There was no turning back.
As we arrived at the airport, we unloaded our passel of belongings for a five-day trip — a stroller, a carseat, two large roller bags, three carry-ons, and as we would learn later, only about half of our brains. Huffing and puffing and burning off what felt like thousands of calories to get our little family of four and all our luggage on the move, we finally arrived ... at the ticket counter.
Whew. “Are we there yet?”
It was here at the ticket counter that we encountered a minor setback on our journey east. As we looked at our reservation, it appeared that we were not, in fact, leaving on a jet plane. We were leaving tomorrow. As in, we bought our tickets for the wrong day and there we were at the airport with all our bags and half of our brains. Parent fail.
We were meeting family in New York and already had our hotel reservations locked in. Arriving a day late would be a huge bummer and not to mention having to explain to our four-year-old her dreams of riding in an airplane that day were foiled. In a scramble, we tried to rebook and by the grace of God and an angel of Delta Airlines, we were able to snag a flight getting us in just two hours late. No big deal! Just more time for our preschooler to rub her face and hands all over every germ-laden seat in the airport, right?
Five hours and a used bottle of hand sanitizer later, we arrived in New York City.
We arrived near midnight and even after the long day’s travel, the beaming light of excitement could not be extinguished from our daughter’s face. As we traveled from the airport to the hotel, we could barely keep her in her seat as she gawked at the lit up skyscrapers and bridges. As we arrived at our hotel, she could not contain her glee as we let her press the number “32” in the elevator. When we arrived at our room, she squealed with delight as we showed her the tiny couch where she got to sleep.
When we woke up the next day, she looked down in wonder at the shockingly, sprawling city beneath her and screamed as she pointed out every last detail to us, the half-awake parents. Needless to say, the trip continued with equally excited wonderment. A taxi! A leaf! A rock! A building! A beautiful piece of TRASH! All laced with screams, jumps, and shrieking. As hilarious as every discovery of hers was, as a parent in the midst of it all, I will admit it was somewhat exhausting to keep up. I joked that I needed just ten minutes of silence staring at a wall to recover. And when I say ten minutes, what I really meant was two hours.
But, each night as we fell into bed exhausted from the adventures of the day; I stayed awake and replayed each and every thing that she sighted in gleeful delight. With every squeal, she made us see and experience vacation and the world in a whole different way. What we would normally do when visiting the city just didn’t feel as important anymore. Now, relishing every bite of a cupcake, craning my neck to take in a skyscraper, watching the mass of humanity walk by in wonder, hugging a lamppost, or spending several minutes admiring one fallen leaf were the new normal activities. And you know what? It all equated with making beautiful, lasting memories.
I suppose that is one of the greatest joys of parenting; the privilege of slowing down and making memories together in the midst of adventure and discovery.
So, yes, we are still probably crazy for pushing our heavy, double stroller filled with children all over the busy, dirty streets of Manhattan. But, I don’t regret one second of it. I learned so much from my daughter that trip. And as we kick off this month where we think about giving thanks and being grateful, I want to take a page out of my daughter’s book and quit rushing around from destination to destination and taking for granted the wonderment this life has to offer. Rather, I want to feverishly celebrate, savor, and give thanks for every little discovery along the way.