After a 5am start and 3 hour drive to Lisbon airport on Saturday, dread filled my heart when we were greeted by an enormous queue to get through security.
When I say enormous there is no exaggeration. I've travelled a fair bit and I'd never seen anything like it in my life. It snaked the whole of the check in area from the front door, through, round and under every available space. It was at least three people deep and was totally un policed or instructed by airport staff.
I have two small boys, 4 and 6yrs old. Queuing is never easy for kids but for my youngest near impossible. Panic began to set in. As a mum I tend to read situations ahead of schedule because I think I know my kids well enough to be able to predict behaviour. So in my mind I leapt ahead into the screaming, flaying, chaos that would unfold when my youngest got bored and wanted to run around like any normal 4yr old chap. I felt deep anxiety spread through me and my temperature went up.
As I stood with the kids and observed the continuous scene I realised something. I couldn't change any of it. We had to stay in line, we had to queue, we had to make our flight. All my worry about how my children would behave didn't change any of those things. So I allowed a little space for the idea 'what if he doesn't...' rather than the 'what will I do when he does...' Regardless of what happened next I found my body ease a little. I found my sense of humour and met the situation without expectation, just with hope that we'd get there as soon as possible.
Luckily for everyone my sons coped amazing well, much better than the adults who got into arguments over queue jumping and some poor man who fainted in the heat and had to be taken away by paramedics.
It took 2.5 hours to get through the queue to the departure gates. The kids were standing the whole time or shuffling along on their bottoms. On that day the iPad was enough to entertain them. All praise Apple.
The whole experience showed me of how easily I slip into that pre-empting disaster story in my mind. And that that disaster story is all imaged fear. Fear built from my insecurities and paranoias not fear of the actual NOW. What the kids taught me that day was to question your story, your fear, your anxieties. Ask them where they come from? How do they know? And then ask yourself why couldn't it be different? And wouldn't it feel amazing to meet that situation and just see?
Thanks kids. And thank you BA for finally getting us home!