There is something that happens to me when I fly. Typically long haul and only ever when I am flying alone. A sense of deep vulnerability comes over me. It has only happened since I have become a mother, and started as a mild feeling and after three kids has turned into something more. I think travelling more with my job has probably exacerbated it.
It starts the night before, as just a mild feeling of anxiety. I tend not to sleep well the night before a big work trip and play the scenario in my head of how things will be for the kids when I’m away. I run to-do lists in my mind, and think hard to be sure I haven't forgotten anything that needs planning for. I put the contact details of my flights and hotel into our shared electronic diary for my other half and the nanny, so everyone knows where I will be in case of an emergency. And then on the nights when its 2am and I’m still not asleep, my mind wanders to the fear of something happening to me. Something happening to me isn’t what I am afraid of, it’s the implications this will have for my children.
I worry about them growing up without their mother, and I think of all the things they would need me for. I want to hold their hand when they are nervous and cheer them on when they do well. I know other people can do that for them but a Mummy is a Mummy. I used to be fearless about flying and travel with a carefree nature, now turbulence makes me catch my breath and the idea of terrorism pops into my mind all too frequently.
Then there is the next odd thing, I slightly fragile and emotional in the sky. When I am 35000 feet off the ground, I can watch a movie and tears will roll down my face at the slightest sense of emotion in a scene. I watched The Greatest Showman and cried multiple times. The vulnerability catches me up high in the sky and bites me where I least expect it. Then bang, when I land it has gone and I am back into work mode and pushing into my job with purpose.
On reflection I think it is the time to think, the time to be quiet and the time to have peace. Someone said to me recently they were thrilled to fly on an airline that had WiFi. I cant think of anything worse. Those few hours of silence and calm give me thinking time, time to reflect and time to breathe.