Last week we flew to Seattle to visit family for
Thanksgiving. Our plan was to arrive in Seattle, then my
husband would immediately hop another plane to Portland for a work
The girls and I would head to Seattle to visit my friend
Nancy. Then around 5:00 p.m. my husband would fly back to
Seattle, we would pick him up at the airport, and then head off to
see our family.
Sounds good in theory, right? But there were parts we
forgot to "think" through. We had a rental car, but Todd had
to pick it up because it was reserved under his name (many calls
were made to add my name, but no luck).
And once Todd was on his flight to Portland, the girls and I
needed to manage all of the luggage and car seats and find our way
to this rental car.
And there were unforeseeable obstacles - a snow storm in Seattle
(people were literally ditching their cars on the side of the road
because of the snow), a late arrival, and a stroller stuck inside
of the plane due to a frozen plane door.
When we landed, Todd bolted off the plane and ran to pick up the
rental car, park it, and hopefully make it back through security in
time to catch his flight to Portland.
So the girls and I sit and wait for the frozen plane door to
become unfrozen (as a Midwestern girl this is hard to
understand….just throw some hot water on it or something!).
The girls are already tired and cranky from our 5:00 a.m. wake
up and 4 ½ hour flight, and I am lost in thought, trying to "figure
out" how to manage the remainder of this travel.
As I'm spacing out, a familiar face walks toward me. We
make eye contact and with relief and happiness I say, Oh, hi
there! I'm just so happy to see somebody I know. He says
nothing and gives me a confused look, and I quickly realize its Jim
Halpert.....I mean, John Krasinski.
While I know everything about his life at The Office, he, of
course, has no idea who I am.
My embarrassment quickly subsides because the stroller is
finally dislodged from the frozen door, so the girls and I run
through the terminal to meet Todd at his Portland gate so we can
get the keys to the rental car.
He hands me the keys, quickly explains where it's parked, and
uncomfortably mentions that the roads are snowy and bad and that
there's no windshield wiper fluid - then adds something about
wiping the windows with baby wipes or stopping at a gas station,
but I'm back in my head, wondering how I will ever get from here to
there in tact….
So he boards, I take a deep breath, and it begins - time to get
through the airport with three children and head down to baggage
We follow the crowd to a busy train, maneuver our way to baggage
claim, and I search for our baggage claim tickets because the
luggage is already packed away somewhere - it's been an hour since
the plane actually arrived.
The helpful lady brings out the endless luggage, and she gives
me a puzzled look, as if she doubts that we can actually manage
this much - I give her a smile and a thumbs up, but in reality, I
completely agree with her.
In my mind this seems logistically impossible, something I would
have said NO to if Todd and I had talked it through while in
Chicago. But here I am, and it's time to pull from a
different place - so I reach deep for humor and faith, my two
I tell the girls that this is an adventure and that we are on a
mission to get to the car. My seven year old is in charge of
the big suitcase, my six year the other suitcase, and I stack
everything else on the stroller with my three year old sitting with
bags on her lap.
I casually mention that yes, this situation stinks, but hey, we
will make it, no matter what! Woo hoo!
But first, where are we going? How do we get out of here,
where is parking, where is this rental car that we have never seen
before? By following another crowd we make our way onto
another elevator (dropping and picking up things as we go).
I feel like crying, but I start laughing and talking to myself,
and the girls look at each other like I'm nuts.
Then a big obstacle - a long and pushy line for the elevators
that get us to the parking garage. If you don't move fast,
you don't get in, and we are barely moving let alone moving
I start singing to myself, trying to motivate, trying to keep it
together. I tell the girls this is a test to find our
superpower (I'm speaking to them, but really I am talking to
We miss several elevators, nobody seems to be paying attention
to the singing mother with three girls and an immense amount of
luggage, until a large man shoos people out of the way, holds open
the elevator door and says, "come on!"
He is alone, no luggage, and he's wearing a Bears sweatshirt
(normal in Chicago, but in Seattle?). I say thank you, he
says nothing - he just focuses on his Blackberry.
We arrive on our floor, he holds open the door, pushes our
luggage out and disappears behind the closing elevator doors.
Obviously amazing, obviously an angel, but I don't have time or
energy to contemplate the immensity of this occurrence…
So, we are off to search for the car, winding in and out of
rows, picking up luggage that falls off the stroller, taking breaks
to catch our breath, asking random people for directions, trying to
stay warm in the 19 degree weather, staying safely distant from
passing cars, trying to keep it together, and then 20 minutes
later, there it is - the car.
The key works, the car starts, we get everything in, and the
girls are buckled.
As I wipe the dirty, fluid-less windows with baby wipes, my
three year old starts sobbing. She lets it all go - the
stress of the day, the effort, the adventure and the
challenge. The girls and I say nothing, we know it's a good
release; she's doing it for all of us.
Even with the crying, I drive out onto the wet and messy
expressway in Seattle with a smile on my face.
The roads are snowy and unplowed, but I am a confident,
experienced Chicago driver, and I just completed a daunting
task. I have a new reality of what I can do.
I have no desire to experience an airport situation like that
again, but I now know I have the ability to handle more than I give
myself credit for.
Too much thinking and planning is my greatest limitation - it
usually offers a yes or a no, but faith and humor offer a "Why not?
My real work in life is rolling with it, trusting that it will
all work out; in airports and otherwise.
And in my heart I know that what I need is always available.
Even when my head begs to differ.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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