Diary of a Mum’s Martha Alexander tackles new heights as she takes baby Robin on her first holiday
This comes to you from the aisle seat of a budget airline: Robin is asleep, koala-style on my front, slack of mouth and milky of breath. My husband (Mikey is his name – I realised he has been, as far as this diary is concerned, nameless and there’s no actual reason for that; he’s not famous or shy or precious) is not talking to me because I asked the air stewardess, who looks like she missed her calling as the fifth member of Little Mix, if the Duty Free Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick was a miniature and she responded with a loud monologue about the translucence of the powder, letting me, and all of the suitcases in the hold, know that her sister-in-law swears by it and never leaves home without it. Robin woke up and howled like a chainsaw.
“What did you think was going to happen?” hissed Mikey after I spent £40 on said product. “Now Robin is awake and it’s because of you and your ridiculous conversation about glitter bombs or whatever they’re called that you could have literally any hour of the day in London and not in the middle of the night at 40,000 feet over the Aegean Sea after 45 long minutes of patting our daughter to sleep. You are completely bloody mad.”
He pulled his hood over his eyes and nuzzled into the shoulder of the stranger next to him.
It hasn’t been like this the entire time. In fact, as far as travelling with an infant goes, we’ve kind of been nailing it. I feel capable, for the first time in ages.
Our first triumph was getting a Doona, which is basically a car seat that grows wheels. It’s genius, lightweight and really satisfying to use. I cannot believe it’s the first of its kind. How has it taken so long for a species to come up with something so essential? We whipped it off the baggage reclaim belt, released the wheels in two seconds flat and sashayed smugly out of Ben Gurion airport feeling slick and together, as other parents struggled with unfolding clunky pushchairs. No matter that I found a small rubber giraffe knotted into the hair behind my ear hours later.
We’ve been to both France and Israel in the past month. It took ages to get Robin’s passport (word to the wise: whoever is your guarantor needs to reply within about 48 hours or the passport office reject the forms – I should know). But now we are fully international.
People, on the whole, are nice when you are travelling with a baby. Obviously the person next to us on the plane, well, their heart sinks when they see us bearing down on them from the gangway. They reach for their headphones and order gin and tonics. But then again, so do we.
There have been a lot of firsts. Robin has seen the sea. She has floated inside an enormous pink flamingo. She has felt (and eaten) sand. She has screamed in rage as I smothered her with sun cream. She has delighted the Israeli side of our family with her frilly sun hat (“she’s so English!”). She has watched her mum bellowing with fury after being stung by the same wasp twice in one minute. She has taken to eating warm croissants for breakfast. She has spat out olives in abject disgust. She even has her own sunglasses by Babiators, so she’s now cooler than me (which admittedly is not hard).
As for me, on the beach, I’m not taking #belfies in a laser-cut one-piece by any means, but I’m feeling pretty confident. I have been lounging around in beautiful pieces by SZ Blockprints – kaftans and dresses all hand-printed in India. I cannot believe the compliments I have had, which only makes me question how basic my poor old wardrobe must have been before.
Holidays have changed, in much the same way life has changed. There’s less spontaneity, more cost, and the opportunity to float off into the middle of an eternity pool beached on top of an inflatable slice of pizza with a pina colada in one hand and a copy of Arundhati Roy’s long-awaited new novel in the other is basically nil (so many abandoned attempts because of explosive nappies, lost bottles and the like). However – and this is cheesy, so gird your loins – there’s so much excitement in being able see the world through the eyes of a tiny child again. But before I get too misty eyed, I must remember we have a long-haul flight soon, so ask me how I feel about travelling with a baby after that…