I met my husband in Sorrento, Italy, when I was 19 and he was 22. I was taking three weeks to “do” the western coast of Italy. He was taking three weeks to do the entirety of Europe. I was English, and he was American. Still am… still is. We were both young and stupid enough to not foresee the numerous and very obvious pitfalls to transatlantic dating.
And so we began. Seven years and a lifetime of heartache later (surprisingly, transatlantic dating is hard), in 2010 I moved to Boston. To his mice-infested apartment in Waltham. To the coldest winter with the deepest snow I’d ever experienced. We were going to stay for two years and then move back to England. If there was subtext to our wedding vows, that was it.
But winter ended, and the snow melted, and we left the Waltham apartment with mice for a Framingham house with a cat. I got used to not being understood, to driving on the wrong side of the road, to having to specify that I want my coffee hot and without sugar, with milk not cream.
I’m still here.
We’re still here.
And in February 2015 I gave birth to an American — a fact I’m still processing. He’s my favorite American so far. The very best and cutest with the least inclination to sleep.
But all of this — the husband and the Atlantic and the American offspring and even the American cat — means that in this newest phase of my life, in motherhood, I am 3,000 miles away from my own mother.
My family is close. Possibly too close, except of course that they are wholly themselves and wholly perfect. Little goes unsaid, and a secret shared with one is shared with them all by default. Since moving to America I have missed them fiercely. But since becoming a mum I have missed them more. Which is why in my son’s 11 months of life we have crossed the Atlantic four times, and two of those flights have been undertaken by me alone.
Here is some of the traveling wisdom I have thus far gleaned:
- The car seat attachments on the stroller are attachments and can detach and be lost forever in the bowels of the plane, leaving you to navigate the airport with a heavy carseat, an unusable stroller, and a screaming infant.
- It is not possible to eat or watch TV while using bassinet seats on an Aer Lingus flight. It’s barely possible to breathe.
- If your flight is delayed for eight hours in Europe, there’s a law obligating the airline to give you 600 Euros in compensation. Whether you feel this, in fact, compensates you for six extra hours spent in the Dublin airport and two on the runway is another matter.
- You have to call the airline to get the bassinet seats. Calling the day before you fly is not early enough time. A couple years before you fly should do it.
- The Heathrow airport has a soft play area! It’s free! I never thought in a million years I’d be excited about this!
- American Airlines doesn’t do free alcohol. Nor does Aer Lingus.
- If flying with Delta, be sure to drink all your wine before asking for more, as they’ll just top up your glass.
- If flying British Airways, ask for an extra wine for dinner. Sometimes the drinks only come by once.
- If your child is asleep on you, your bladder will find a capacity never before known, even with the extra wine.
- You’ve never known jet lag until you’ve experienced it with an 11-month-old — 2 a.m. is the new 7 a.m., don’tcha know.
- It’s all worth it.