I like to be prepared. Although having three kids has thrown my life into more chaos than two ever did, I still try to keep myself from getting caught off-guard. For example, as a general rule, I have six diapers in the diaper bag. My nursing class teacher shared how she got stuck traveling with her baby who had diarrhea. Flight attendants had to take turns running paper towels to her seat, and the story stuck with me. I don’t ever want to have diarrhea all over me in a place where I can’t get to a change of clothes.
This story comes to mind when I travel, so I try to pack extra diapers. But for our last trip home from Florida, I had three remaining diapers when we left for the airport. It should have been more than enough to get me through. But that’s not how things went down.
We knew when we left for the airport that our flight was delayed. What we could not have foreseen was that the one-hour delay would become a four-hour delay, the final hour of which came once everyone had boarded the plane and a rogue piece of luggage fell from the overhead compartment, injuring a passenger. This necessitated emergency aid in the form of a sheriff’s vehicle and fire truck pulling up next to us at the gateway “just in case” while the crew waited for this passenger to feel better. (You can’t make this stuff up.)
When your 5-6 hours traveling with three children becomes 9-10 hours, you learn to relax. You roll with the punches. And you improvise. A four-hour delay with Eliza would have had me sweating bullets about the diaper dilemma. But with Ethan, I wasn’t all that concerned, despite having used up two diapers before our flight even took off. I briefly considered buying the $5 airport pack of two diapers and eight wipes, but the cheap skate in me just couldn’t do it, and the diapers weren’t the right size anyway. But the anal-retentive part of me couldn’t board the plane with only one remaining diaper. (I might be anal, but Ethan is not! And diarrhea was what I feared, remember?) I decided to make a new friend. There was a woman with an 11-month-old nearby. I introduced myself, explained my situation, and asked if she had a diaper to spare. She was happy to help. I told her I just needed a one-diaper cushion.
Thank goodness for that woman. And every other mom or dad who has been that person for another mom or dad in need. I must confess that I haven’t always had the most gracious thoughts towards unprepared parents. But the truth is we all need help sometimes. No matter how well you plan or predict, parenting is beautifully unpredictable. In the end, I did need that diaper. I used one on the plane, and then of course Ethan pooped as I waited at baggage claim for Greg to pull up the car. No, the little man didn’t get diarrhea. And if he had, I might have ended up like my nursing class teacher. But I have found that stressing out about every potential worst-case scenario makes for a really stressed-out mom. Which can give you … diarrhea.