I’m a Mom and I’m scared to fly.
Actually, I’m scared to fly since becoming a Mom.
I know what you might be thinking. Who wouldn’t be scared to fly with little kids? But that’s not it at all.
I’m not scared to fly with my kids, I’m scared to fly without them.
I know, I know. In what world does that make sense?
Answer: Mine. In my world.
I’ve traveled all over the place. I count my opportunities to see this world as some of my luckiest moments. Being exposed to new people, new places, new languages, new culture, new food…it’s incredible.
I love traveling.
What I don’t love is flying.
I’ve never loved it. It’s always been a means to an end for me. With my travel destination being the end. But since becoming a Mother, I’ve developed an almost crippling fear of flying. I’m scared it’s going to be the means to a different type of end.
I’ll just come right out with it. I’m scared of my plane crashing. Truthfully, I’m not just scared to fly, I’m scared to die.
Because I love my children. Because I love being a Mother. And because I have SO much to live for since having them.
People usually think my hesitancy to travel since becoming a Mom is about my children. But it’s mostly about me.
I’m not worried about my kids being okay while I am away on a trip. I know they’ll be in the best hands ever. Capable, loving, family hands. Family members who are so in tune with them and their safety & well-being that I don’t think twice about leaving them. I know they’ll be okay.
I just don’t know if I’ll be okay.
And I don’t mean in terms of missing them. Cue all the “Oh you’ll miss them but it will feel good to get away” comments. I know how good it will feel to get away. To have a break. To avoid mom burnout. And of course I will miss them—they’re my babies! All hail FaceTime for making it possible to see their precious faces from halfway across the world. And I’m sorry if seeing Mama & Daddy makes it harder on whoever is taking care of them (shout out to my Mom & Sis!), but this Mama’s gotta see her babies.
As much as I adore my children and just Motherhood in general (I’m a SAHM & think being a Mother is what I was born to do), every time I travel it is so refreshing. It feels good to play hookie. I love connecting with my husband, whether it be for a night out or a week away. It’s nice to have regular conversations instead of the fractured sentences we try to finish every few minutes but never quite do. Also, morning sex.
It’s nice to have a breather but, inevitably, by the end of every trip I am absolutely dying to see them. So yes, I’ll miss them.
I’m the Mom who doesn’t want to miss a single moment of my kids’ lives. I want to soak up every hug, every snuggle, every little handprint. So the thought of missing all the moments unravels me to my core. It utterly destroys me.
I don’t want my children to grow up without a Mother.
Actually, let me say that differently—I don’t want them to grow up without ME.
Because that’s what I really mean.
Believe it or not, I’m not an anxious person. I’m actually a pretty practical person.
But mostly, I am a feeling person. I have a lot of feelings. About a lot of things. And they aren’t easily ignored.
My fear of flying is one of these feelings.
And that feeling is strong. Crippling even. The “cars are so much more dangerous” argument doesn’t help me at all. The statistics that are completely in my favor don’t make an iota of difference to me. The “airplanes are so safe” facts have zilch effect. The pilot neighbor who has piloted planes his entire life coming over to sit on my porch at my husband’s request to explain how safe flying is doesn’t work for me. (Okay, that one worked a little because I was able to grill him on things like drunk pilots that you read about in the news, etc…but not enough to alleviate my fear). And God Forbid don’t you dare tell me “everything happens for a reason.” Because I’m a firm non-believer in that and I honestly think it is a terrible thing to say to people (more on that in another post).
If a plane crash is in the news, I can’t stop reading about it. I’m almost obsessive, trying to figure out what went wrong, was it human or mechanical error, what could have been done to save the plane and thus everyone in it, etc. My husband says I torture myself by doing that. I clap back that I just want to be knowledgeable about it. He’s not wrong. But neither am I.
When you’re as scared to fly as I am, you worry when they say something’s not working and you worry when they say it’s fixed (because, is it?!).
I know, it’s completely ridiculous.
When I’m in the airport calmly (on the outside—inside I’m a wad of nerves) waiting to board and I hear the dreaded “Flight XXXX has been delayed,” my entire body tenses. And if it’s for a technical issue—my inner shit just hit the fan. I have conflicting feelings because on the one hand, thank you Jesus that they caught it. But on the other hand, I worry they’ll do a quick bandaid type fix. I get suspicious my HVAC guy might not fix my air unit right. You don’t think I worry about this supposedly expert aviation tech team that knows how to fix all the problems on all the planes all the time?
My husband is a physician. Since I’ve become scared to fly he always suggests that I take Xanax or something to ease my anxiety. My response is always the same: “I want to be alert.”
I know that sounds crazy. But hear me out.
IF something were to happen with our flight, I want to be 100000% on my A game. In the event of an emergency landing, I want to be able to spring into action. If someone has evil intentions, I want to be prepared. I want to know where the exit rows are. And I want to be ready. I don’t want to be hazy. <Insert my husband’s exasperated sigh as I explain this to him—yet again—here.>
I listened to & watched the Flight Attendant Safety Demo intently on my first flight as a junior in college. And I’ve half-heartedly listened since then, but never at full attention (except when Delta had that cheeky video one).
But you know who tunes into the Flight Safety Talk like their life depends on it (because it could)?
Moms who are scared to fly since having kids.
You better believe I want to know if the bottom of my seat is the flotation device, where my closest exit is, and not to worry if my oxygen mask doesn’t inflate because oxygen is still flowing. Tell me more, Plane Safety Gods. I want to know it all.
I assess the people around me. Gauge how they might hold up in a crisis situation. She looks strong. He looks able-bodied. Ooh, he looks weak. She looks too relaxed.
When the “Seat belts fastened” light unexpectedly dings, my mind goes into overdrive. “Does the pilot know something we don’t?” OF COURSE THE PILOT KNOWS SOMETHING I DON’T. The pilot knows a million things I don’t. The physics of flying. Aerodynamics. The weather at the current altitude. Air pockets. The route. To. Name. A. Few.
And no, I don’t want to fly separately from my husband, though I absolutely understand why many couples do that. I get it and it’s honestly probably the smart thing to do. But selfishly, it doesn’t really make me feel any better. In fact that would just layer on the worry because then I’d have to worry about his plane, too. And God I love that man.
But, here’s the clincher. This is where it gets (or I get?) even crazier.
I would be more okay if I had my kids with me on the plane.
I KNOW IT. <face palm>
How can I be so scared to fly when my kids aren’t with me but magically unafraid when they are?
It makes no sense. But it’s the truth.
I’d feel so much more okay if I was sandwiched between my children on every flight, holding their little bodies close and feeling all that love. That seems unusual coming from someone who is so scared to fly. Morbid even. Like “I’m terrified to fly unless my kids are with me.” Wait, what?
I never let myself go this far into it because even grazing past these thoughts crumples me, but for the sake of this post I will delve into it one time and one time only.
If I really break it down I think it’s because it’s a Mother’s instinct to protect her young, especially in an emergency (like the scariest moment of my life when my child choked). And holding my kids close to me & then springing into the Supermom action hero makes me feel safer.
And to go even deeper, I also think it’s because I want to hold them until the very end. My end. And if I’m alone on a flight and something happens, they’re so far away. I can’t hold them and tell them how much Mama loves them until my very last breath.
I’m scared to fly because I don’t want to die.
That’s what it all boils down to. And I know there are a million ways to die, but planes really scare me. Though anything that could take me away from my children, or vice versa, scares me to death.
If you could guarantee me that I’d get to my destination and back home safely, I’d never bat an eye about hopping on a plane and flying across the world. I really do love traveling.
My husband is scared to fly since becoming a parent, too. But he says he doesn’t want to be paralyzed by fear or let it stop us from living our lives.
I remind him he wouldn’t feel that way if we didn’t make it back.
We traveled a bunch before having children. I traveled 5 months pregnant with my first. We traveled after having our son. I traveled 5 months pregnant with my second. And I’ve traveled since having her. Each time it’s harder and harder. At this point it’s edging near impossible for me.
No trip is worth the risk of not being here for and with my kids. And yet here I am thinking about taking that risk. Sure, I have a wonderful trip to gain. But I have everything to lose. Everything. Putting it like that makes me wonder how I could even consider it. And yet here I am. Considering it.
Year after year, trip after trip. Considering it. Risking it. Everything.
So what do we do? Those of us scared to fly since having children? Do we stay put and never travel again? Or do we take that risk, ignore our fear of flying, and get on the plane?
I’m supposed to fly soon. Very soon.
And far. Very far.
I bought “Gold Package” travel insurance
just in case my babies get sick. Or we get sick. Or in case I just can’t step foot on the plane. (ding ding ding)
Are you scared to fly since becoming a Mom, too? Tell me in the comments. And if you have any tips for fear of flying, please help a scared Mama out & give me those, too!
Want more on Motherhood? –> Are you a Stay at Home Mom? Has your child choked? Have you been mom-shamed?
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