Back in the day when I was an Aeroplan Super Elite flyer, I strolled purposefully through airports, my rolling luggage wheels whirring behind me, trench coat flapping madly in my wake. Fellow passengers travelling with small children were to be avoided at all costs – I would board long after them and sit as far as possible away from them, preferably with a closed business class curtain between us. I flew so much that I knew many of the flight attendants who worked the Calgary – Chicago route by name and if I cared to, I could recite the onboard flight announcements right along with them.
There is a part of the safety briefing that always made me smirk, “If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children.”
Here I was, newly married living in Calgary but working in Chicago, clawing my way up the corporate ladder, with procreation being the furthest thing from my mind. But I was smirking because I knew when I finally did have kids, I’d be the kind of mother who would gladly take a bullet for them, and I would put their gas masks on first, because it’s more important for them to live than me.
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Now that I’ve actually had kids, I know I’d still take a bullet for them, but the safety announcement has followed me into my everyday life onto terra firma. I know now, that if I change my crying baby’s diaper before emptying my full bladder, that I will wet my pants (really). I know now that if I don’t grab a bite to eat while I’m zooming around making their breakfast, packing their lunch, making sure they brush their teeth, wash their faces, and wear (semi)clean clothes, that I will drive right to McDonald’s after I drop them off at school and eat a deep-fried something that I will regret for at least a week. I know now, that if I don’t get some exercise and some sunshine on a daily basis, I will get crabby and no one, not even my children will want to be around me, bullets or otherwise. And I now know, that these little miracles won’t die if we (quickly) put our own oxygen masks on first, they’ll probably even thank us (since we’ll both be around and not unconscious) for it.
So Moms, do us all a favour and put your own oxygen mask on first. The world is a much safer and happier place when you do.