As Mike and I boarded our plane for Cabo two weeks ago, we prepared ourselves for the battle to sit together.
I was 23A and he was 25F. We thought that since neither of us was a middle seat, we had a pretty strong chance of someone trading.
When I arrived at my seat, however, it was already filled. With a four-year-old.
I politely told the gentleman next to the boy that I was 23A. He looked up at me with the most pleading eyes I’d seen since Mike last saw a puppy.
“Would you mind sitting across the aisle next to my wife?” he asks. “We’re trying to seat the family together.”
That’s when I notice a six-year-old boy next to the four-year-old, and across the aisle a smiling woman and a two-year-old girl next to…my new empty seat.
“Sure!” I reply quickly. “I totally understand. In fact, we were trying to switch too.” I said “were” because of course now I had zero chance of anyone trading with me to sit in day care.
Mike leans over to me and says, “Who cares? I’m going to ask somebody to switch you anyway.”
I exchange hello’s with the wife next to me, and five minutes later from behind me I hear, “BABE. IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK.”
I look back to Mike’s row where two grim-faced elderly people made it perfectly clear that they had no intention of joining my row of potential screamers. I decide to make the best of it.
The husband turns to me and asks if this is our first time to Cabo, and I tell him no, my husband has been many times. His mouth falls open.
“Your husband?!” he replies. “Oh my gosh you must be newlyweds! You look so young!”
“Actually we’re not,” I answer, because I get this reaction all the time. “We’ve been married for three years, and I’m 26 years old.”
His whole demeanor changes. “That’s fantastic! We’ve been married five years and we come here every year!”
I look at the three children surrounding them and realize this couple has had three children in five years. My mind reels.
“Oh and we’re pregnant so we have one more coming!” he adds.
Suddenly I felt the need to defend our lack of children. This also happens often.
“Oh wow! That’s amazing,” I tell them. “We don’t have any kids yet…we’re just having too much fun! I mean, once you have kids you can’t just jet off to Cabo…or…um…” I stop myself mid-sentence because jetting off to Cabo is exactly what they are doing — with 3.5 children.
The wife smiles at me and leans in to give sister-to-sister advice. Suddenly I feel as if we’ve been friends for a decade and we’re discussing family matters over margaritas.
“You know what?” she says. “Your kids are the ones joining your family. You didn’t join theirs. Once you have them, you have to keep living the way you want to, and they just come along for the ride. You don’t suddenly lock yourself in your home and orbit around your kids. Believe me, we are still loving our lives.”
I wanted to kiss her. Or hug her very hard. Her words were like a happy birthday present from Jesus straight to me.
I don’t discuss it often, but one of my biggest fears about having children is that my life will turn into a scene from The Shawshank Redemption — starring me as the prisoner. I’ve just met too many moms who complain about how fun their life used to be. But meeting this woman punched that notion out of my mind. She’s right; Mike and I are going to continue to live our lives even if little people are in them.
…though it may be slightly more complicated; after all, they were carting approximately 57 pieces of luggage.
And then it dawned on me: my sister-in-love was doing the exact same thing. She was meeting us in Cabo with her three kids. She didn’t have to stay at home in single-digit temperatures to appease her kids; she packed her bikini and got on the plane.
The point was really driven home with her next question.
“And how long are you guys in Cabo?” she asked.
“A week,” I replied. “And you?”
Blink. Blink blink. You have to be kidding me. This woman isn’t just my hero, she is officially my idol.