We made it home. Traveling with a sixteen month old might be the very tip top on my list of personally challenging tasks to conquer. I have one approach: extinguish all that resembles what Tonya might like to do like sleep, read or think. Then I stay sharply, intensely centered in every single moment connected to Kira’s wish and whims without ever asking or wondering what time it is or how much longer there is to go. It’s just me and Kira in a bubble. The other thing to do to save my sanity is to make sure I don’t care what anyone else on the plane thinks about us. Sometimes baby cries, most times she babbles, and if I’m extremely blessed she giggles uncontrollably. No matter what, she makes a lot of constant noise. I figure that’s why the flight attendants pass out headphones to everyone except me, so other passengers have the option of drowning out our life songs.
We had an eight hour flight to London from Uganda, and then a 22 hour layover. We arrived at 4:30 completely wiped out, ready to eat and flop into bed. We took a room at the Hilton at the airport and it had two twin beds for the five of us for a big whopping deal of 300 dollars for the night. Jordan took a bed, Kevin took the floor, Kira snuggled me and Jack slept at the foot of my bed trying not to kick me all night long. I slept well, and that’s perhaps how much sleep during travel is important to this mama. Kevin and Jack had room service of fish and chips with Kira exploring the room while Jordan and I enjoyed a very grown up conversation in the restaurant down stairs. Once back in the room we turned the lights out and slept. The plan was to get up early and go into London via the tube and explore a few hours before returning for our 2:30 pm flight to Houston.
That plan was tanked when Kevin awoke at 2:am puking all over the bathroom floor. It never registered to him to make it to the toilet. The poor guy has a weak stomach and refuses to ever eat fish and chips again. I made a princess call to the hotel services, and asked them to send someone up to clean for me. I just couldn’t do it. Kevin handed him a 20quid note and apologized and thanked him. We all nearly retched in our beds waiting for him to carry out the smell from our small room. Somehow we all went back to sleep and stayed there until long past eight. We took our time showering and packing then enjoyed a nice breakfast buffet, not included in the room price for 20 pounds each. The lady at the register was sympathetic and only charged us for two people. Still, that was an eighty dollar breakfast. I could take a whole group of my family and my Ugandan family out to dinner for that amount. Oh, London, London, London if you stay so expensive no one will come over to play with you any more.
If we had perhaps five more hours of our layover we could have taken in some sights but instead we wandered the shopping experience of terminal five in the airport. It wasn’t quite like standing on the Tower Bridge over the Thames, or peering up at Big Ben and then looking across the street to Westminster Abbey. I’d have loved to show Kevin and Jack the sights from the top of a red double decker bus and stopped in for a cup a tea and some biscuits for refreshment in a quaint pub. But not this trip. We truthfully weren’t feeling entirely too adventurous after three weeks in Uganda. We were ready to go home. Soo sooo sooooo ready to be home.
The last flight was nine hours. I was squished into the bulk head with two other people and Kira on my lap. The nice lady next to me was chatty and I thought oh Lord please I don’t want to tell my whole life story and take care of Kira. I just want to rest my mind, please. He must have had pity on me because the attendant discovered my tv was broken. He said, ‘I’m going to have to move you” and I said, “Only if it is WAY up there, pointing towards the first class”. He smiled at me and said, let’s see what we have to do. He made a call, a repair person looked at it and said it couldn’t be fixed now, so they decided to move me up to the business class. Would I like to be next two a mama with two screaming kids in the bulk head or have two seats to myself by a window. Please give me two quiet seats alone. The boys discovered I was getting an upgrade and they were so jealous, asking suddenly to sit with me to help with Kira and I sent them back to their seats with a swat on the bottom since not once in all the flights did they offer to help me with her. The whole flight was spent with Kira on my lap, except for once when I transferred her sleeping body into the seat next to me for an hour or so. And I didn’t have to talk to anyone and forgive me, but I was out of words after three weeks of nonstop socializing. I just have to compliment my three sons, they are excellent travelers. They are helpful when necessary and also quick to be silent when they can sense it all might not being going as planned. And Kira, she is a good girl and loves to be in her mama’s arms so as long as that is covered she’s easy to toss on my back and walk for hours, or cuddle to sleep under my chin and sleep for hours. By the grace of God alone we made it through eighteen hours of flying without Benadryl or melt downs.
It was only 7:30 Houston time when we arrived, but it felt like 2:30 in the morning. My head was pounding and my eyes were burning. It was like crawling over the finish line of a marathon when we made it through customs with our baggage and enjoyed the greeting from Donny, who was so happy to see us after being lonely at home by himself for a few days. He drove us home and I don’t remember a thing except how good it was to slip into my bed. I faintly remember hearing Jack say he’d put Kira to bed. I am sure she was ready to have her own space back as much as I was.
This was a big trip, emotionally and intellectually it was both stimulating and exhausting. I’m going to need a couple weeks to recuperate. I am finally shifting my mind to think about our move that is about to happen in three weeks. I haven’t really begun to think about that until now. But first, I’m going to take a couple days and enjoy the luxuries of home: my dog’s kisses, my cat’s purring, my bicycle, a trip to the nail and hair salon, and salads! And daily dips in the pool and afternoon naps are on the agenda. I think I’ll go see a movie at the theater. And I’m definitely going to read a good book.
Meanwhile I am loaded up with more stories and photos that I wasn’t able to upload from the Pearl of Africa, so I hope you will enjoy what I have to share with you about what we learned and saw while in Uganda. I also brought so many things home to sell. I really stocked a store! Maybe I’ll plan an open house before we go in case anyone feels like shopping, and we’ll get it all up on the internet store as soon as possible. Because even though I’m home and I’m tired, I have fifty-one kids in Uganda I need to feed! And my goodness, one small child there can eat more than one of my big boys! But for now, I’m going to see what’s in the fridge.