Day 7: Saturday
Oh Saturday! Finally Saturday! Our Saturday started at 5:30 a.m. as we disembarked at the Brussels Airport. I was so glad to be on the ground and so very glad to be in a developed country. But so ridiculously tired. This layover in Brussels was longer than the last. But we got to stay in the interesting part of the airport. But it was 5 in the morning. But we were with our friends. But we now had 5 kids to entertain. It’s hard to decide if this layover was better or worse. And even though we were all thrilled to be on our way home, we were all extremely exhausted. As we trudged through the airport looking for somewhere to sit and re-group, I heard S. or B. announce, “If I snap at you, please don’t take it personally, I am just really tired!.” That pretty much summed up exactly how I felt. Four days with no sleep and the strain of international travel was pretty much turning me into a first class grump. It was about this time that every thing [L] did or said began to wear on. my. nerves. All I wanted to do was take a nap. Pretty high on my list of things I did not want to do was sit in an airport for 4 hours with 2 kids who were super restless and, at this point, kind of annoying. We didn’t do much during this layover. There was some eating. There was some coloring. There was some sniping back and forth between me and my husband. Basically, there was some surviving going on in that airport.
By the time we were ready to board our flight to Newark, I was pretty much over everything and everybody. I went to the bathroom before we went to our gate and, walking back to my new family, I had my second ever out of body experience. As I floated above my body in the Brussels Airport, I saw [L]. He was holding [G], who was crying. He was also holding the hand of [A], who was crying. They were waiting for zombie mommy to join them so they could all board another 8 hour flight. Out-of-body-Kati looked down and screamed, “Run!” I was only an hour and half from Paris by train, only an hour by plane! I could go back to Paris and eat croissants forever! OK, maybe not forever, maybe just long enough for [L] to get the kids home, all settled in, and adjusted. Or forever. Out-of-body-Kati was willing to keep her options open. But corporeal, responsible Kati kept walking, joined her family, and got on the plane.
Once again, it was me and [A] sitting together on our way to the US of A. We were in a 3-seater row with a very nice gentleman who very kindly let us by every single time [A] had to pee. All 815 times. The flight was pretty smooth and he watched TV or napped. He thought it was hilarious when we watched the same thing on our screens, so much so that he sat through one no-audio episode of 30 Rock and just laughed at the fact that our screens were the same. If only he understood English and adult humor, he could have laughed even harder at the actual show. *I heart Tina Fey.* We only had one real hiccup on this flight. About halfway through the flight, we ran into some pretty decent turbulence. Normally, any sort of turbulence frightens the dickens right out of me (and makes me talk like an seventeenth century Englishman). But, honestly, at this point – after over 30 hours on an airplane in 7 days – I was much less inclined to freak out. I still didn’t like it, but I also didn’t start to “go towards the light” anymore every time it happened. But this time, [A] decided to freak out. Not because he was afraid that we were plunging to our deaths but because it woke him up and he had to pee. And, apparently, when [A]‘s gotta go, [A]‘s gotta go. He started screaming bloody murder and kicking to get up. I, of course, had no freaking idea what he was saying only that the sweet boy who had been napping in my lap mere minutes ago had suddenly turned into a psychotic banshee who was completely embarrassing his mommy on this international flight. My formerly friendly seat partner was now looking at me suspiciously probably wondering when and why I had suddenly stabbed my son. Finally [A] screamed out “kuyola” which I knew meant he had to “go” and, apparently, when it’s accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth, it means he needs to “go” NOW! But the seat belt sign was on and I wasn’t sure what would happen if we got up and headed to the bathroom. I tried to explain to [A] that we couldn’t get up quite yet but my English words and soothing tones has absolutely no effect on the madman with the full bladder and he just kept screaming. Finally I just said, “screw it” and picked him up and ran towards the bathroom. Two minutes and one empty bladder later, the demons had gone and sane [A] had returned. We went back to our seats and settled back in and, about 2 minutes later, were approached by a flight attendant. I thought I was in trouble for breaking the “sit down and hold on for dear life” rule but, no, she was just rewarding [A]‘s return to sanity with a big fat bowl of ice cream. It pays to be a crazy person. I know that better than anyone. I got free drugs when I lost my marbles on the very same flight 7 days earlier.
After that, the flight was uneventful and we landed safely in Newark around 12:30 in the afternoon. Coming back into the United States (praise the Lord and pass the apple pie!), we went through customs and it was pleasantly painless. I was less than pleasant (again) and this is when I not only snapped at [L], but also at some random stranger who didn’t mind his own business. After going through immigration, all I wanted to do was find a bathroom and change my clothes and the kids’. As I tried to steer my little family towards the
very obviously marked family bathroom, [L] kept telling me I was going the wrong way. “That’s a men’s bathroom” he said. Over. And. Over. “I’m not an idiot,” I said. There was a women’s, a men’s, and a family changing area. I was headed towards the family changing area. Because I’m not stupid. But he kept insisting I was going to the men’s room. So much so that some busybody passerby decided it was necessary to stop and say, “Ma’am I believe you are going into the men’s restroom.” Oh. Snap. If you don’t know me in person, then you’ve probably never seen my “You’re dead to me” look but I have one and it is formidable. [L] and Mr. Know-it-all got it full force as I took them both over to the family changing room that (lo and behold!) did exist and showed them the completely obvious difference between it and the men’s restroom that they couldn’t seem to shut-up about. They both then got a “Julia Sugarbaker” speech about how I have two freaking eyes and I know how to read and that this is NOT the time to be starting with me. Mr. Know-it-all mumbled an apology and ran into the safety of the men’s room but poor [L], who was stuck with me, and simply avoided eye contact while I changed my clothes and tried to stop my head from spinning. I was SO tired, y’all. I still had not gotten any sleep and my body was just done.
After a change of clothes and a nice face wash, I felt better and I was ready to be civil again. We then took the kids down to the same restaurant where just 7 days earlier we had argued over whether I would actually make this trip or not and had our first American meal as a family. Cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, french fries, and milkshakes. It seemed appropriate. And it made me feel much better. As we went to wait for our next and LAST flight, I began to get very excited that we were almost HOME! I was actually also very nervous about this last flight because this was where I had such trouble before. The plane for such a short flight (just under 2 hours) is teeny-teeny-tiny and feels very, very bumpy. And I do not like it. So I was pretty antsy as we boarded that last plane with only 3 little seats across each row. But I was also very tired and I completely fell asleep before we even took off. I woke up an hour into the flight, totally surprised and actually a little rested. We only had about 40 more minutes left on the flight and, even more surprising, I really and truly enjoyed the rest of it. The flight was smooth and the time of day was just beautiful. I opened my window and just savored the sights of clouds, and sky, and my beautiful home state of Georgia. That plane was so dang small, it felt like I was on some sort of sightseeing tour anyway, so I figured I might as well enjoy it. And I did. Until we began to land. Because that’s when [A] woke up. And guess what, he had to pee. Again. And this time, we really could not get up because we were literally landing on the ground. I could not explain this to [A], unfortunately, and he screamed and yelled until he finally wet his pants as we touched down. Not exactly how I envisioned that moment in my dreams. Ugh. So we spent a good 20 minutes extra on that tiny plane changing [A] and cleaning him up before we finally stepped off and into the Atlanta airport. HOME! Hallelujah!!!
[L] and I were excited to be home but the kids were dragging. They had both slept on the flight but, because it was so short and it was now 8:30 at night, they were very sleepy. But I knew my Mom and Dad were waiting at baggage claim to meet their beautiful grand-kids. So, as we walked, I tried to cheer them up and find some happy faces for Mimi and Pa. But they were sick of me and I made absolutely no progress. My feelings might have been hurt if I wasn’t kind of sick of them too at that moment in time. Luckily they loved their Mimi and Pa immediately and gave them lots of smiles and giggles. It probably didn’t hurt that they brought them presents and gave them lots of fun rides in Pa’s wheelchair. We were very happy to see them and very glad to have a nice, quiet, and very sweet homecoming. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew were planning on being there too but my nephew was sick with the croup so a BIG fat thank you to them for NOT coming. I don’t think I could have handled a sickness our first week home. But we can’t WAIT to see the rest of our family soon and I know [A] and [G] are going to LOVE playing with their awesome cousin. Here are some pics of the kids with their incredibly happy grandparents!
Finally, it was time to head to the car. And then drive another hour and a half home. It actually went by really quickly. [A] and [G] slept most of the way and, around 11 p.m., we finally pulled into our driveway. I love my home. That night I LOVED my home. I even loved the sound of our beagles, Gus and Woody, barking their heads off at the sound of our car. [A] and [G], however, did not love that so much. I had always been afraid at how they would react to our 2 dogs and 8 cats and I was fixing to find out. The dogs they were not too keen on. But that’s completely understandable since they were going nuts with excitement over the fact that we were home. They were also very anxious to sniff these two new little people we had brought with us. But [A] and [G] were not having any of that. So we kept the dogs out and went in to see how terrified they were of the cats. As we walked in the door, our oldest cat Abi ran into the foyer to see us. I held my breath. [A] cried, “Pussy!” and took off to chase her. Laughing. Well, color me surprised. They loved the cats! They wanted to pet them and smell them and love them and squeeze them. Whew. I mean, gee whiz, there are 8 of them. I was a little worried. The cats were less than thrilled to be chased but they were pretty curious and it was really a pretty painless introduction. So we moved on to the bedroom. Suddenly these sleepy kids were wide awake ready to explore and play! Awesome. Not. It took another good hour for them to wind down enough to put on their p.j.s and get ready for bed. When they had their pajamas on and were settling down, I left them in their room alone as I went to go get something, I have no idea what. Apparently while I did that, [L] let the dogs back in. Because, when I returned to their room, [A] and [G] were standing in the middle of it with their arms around each other screaming at the top of their lungs. Woody was sitting in front of them with his head cocked to the side and confusion written all over his face. It. Was. Hilarious. I’m sorry if that makes me a terrible mommy, but it was completely hilarious. I’m giggling now as I type this out. I’ve actually yet to not laugh out loud when I tell that story. It made my night. The entire trip was worth that moment.
I removed Woody and they immediately settled down and got in their beds. And then they fell asleep. So quickly. They were so tired. It had been an incredibly long day. I walked into our bedroom, saw [L], and dissolved into tears. So many emotions that really deserve their own post. I can’t even begin to get into it now. Just know that I was a wreck. And I was tired. And I was so crazy ready to get in my own bed. So I did. Because we were home.