Andy Williams once told me that Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year”,
but I’m with my boys Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson – wedding season beats
Christmas hands down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch – but those long hot February
days signal for me the beautiful start of something old, something new, something
borrowed and something blue, and the premier of my nuptial season is to kick off this
weekend in Tauranga.
I remember the 8 hour long haul by car, it’s been done a few times now; always dogged by awkward nappy changes in shingle lot truck stops and covert feeding in PaknSave supermarket car parks, and insatiably I book myself and my little one a 55 minute direct flight- complete with tea, biscuit and KiaOra magazine.
I can picture it now- polished mother, fresh faced baby on my hip, handbag and
suitcase all in their place, as we strut smoothly through the airport. My friend Ms
Jolie assures me that walking through airports is as effortless as she makes it look in
the Womans Weekly magazine; and she can do it in 9 inch heels tailed by an entourage of the
miniature United Nations cast. Piece of cake, right?
At 6am on the morning of said dream flight my alarm eagerly “VVVVVRRRR
VVVVVRRRR’s” me awake. Mufassa’s words to Sarabi ring clearer than ever;
“before sunrise he’s YOUR son…” and going against everything I believe in I creep
into the lion’s den and wake my sleeping cub. Daddy-o kisses us goodbye and with wry amusement reminds me she’s been a little light on the poo front this week. A slight motherly instinct warns me that this could be dangerous.
I wouldn’t have minded if my motherly instinct proved incorrect, unfortunately finding the parent facilities at Wellington Airport becomes my first unsuccessful hurdle of the day. With the clock closing in, and dignity (and other things) seeping out, I set Sienna up on a cubicle floor and proceed to attack the morning glory. She accepts her new found freedom immediately and while digging through a packed bag searching for wipes, a bag, a cloth, and a new nappy I’m simultaneously trying to minimise the spread of poo over everything else. Also unsuccessfully.
With a brand spanking new bum and no one witnessing this unorthodox method of
parenting – save my shame – we gather ourselves.
The glamour gap between me and the Pitt-Jolie’s grows wider as Sienna goes back on the
floor while I attempt to fasten the departure tags. I biff the car seat and my 22.9kg bag
onto the carousel, and as it slowly cycles back I’m told “You need to check this at
So begins my battle to find the elusive Counter Two, as the counters for all I know
are arranged in the Fibonacci sequence, not drop Sienna as she swivels like a boss on my hip to check everyone out, and find the departure gate at the literal opposite end of the airport, to wait in.
With 3 carry on bags, a carry on child and a sorely unfair bag-to-hand ratio, I know I’m
pushing my limits for the 7kg threshold, but we all know how impossible it is to travel
light when you’re a mother. My handbag slips off my shoulder, Sienna’s buzzy bee
teething toy attempts an escape near Donut King, she’s got a fistful of my pony tail and
those little sensitive hairs at the nape of the neck, I’m sweltering for wearing all my
jackets, and with a disarming reality I realise that the back of her bodysuit is soaking
By this stage all fantasy of my airport dream is shattered. If Ange could see me now. We finally make it to Gate 15 in airport Timbuktu, and with no free seats I realise that for the fourth time that morning no one in Wellington Airport is going to go out of their way for the lady with the ripped shorts and baby-styled hair, who’s wearing 3 jackets in February. Not willing to go in search of the baby boudoir again, and becoming quite hot and bothered, I strip my jackets, and Sienna, right in the middle of the departure lounge.
Too. Damn. Bad. People.
At last we are being called, at last a seat, and at last my complimentary tea and
biscuit. Proud that the buzzy bee toy wasn’t interested in escaping onto the tarmac, I crab-walk down the isle, feeling like the Hindu Deva Ganesha with extra limbs as my bags, jackets and baby bang against each tiny Thumbelina seat. Propping Sienna up using my foot, I shove my bags, jackets, buzzy bee toys and the 3 extra arms I seemed to have needed in the overhead locker.
The rest of the travellers look on in shy amusement at the sweating one-legged
dishevelled patron, who all the while is singing “Tu tera mai nga iwi AUE” to keep
Sienna entertained. Alas, a 55 minute flight time is to feel like the dreaded 8 hour car ride as Sienna decides to stretch her vocal chords. Even a fast pace, bouncing on the knee, sing-it-in-a-Scottish-accent version of “tu tera mai nga iwi” does little to alter the octave intensity coming from her mouth. Once the plane engines fire up and we take off, she sleeps. It is the saving grace for most infant travellers that motor sounds, vibrations and general white noise acts as a calming remedy.
The saving grace for her mother was the complimentary cup of tea. Although I think
after all this that my friend Ange must definitely use something a bit stronger when she
tackles project runway.