Two years ago I made a decision that changed my life forever.
I know you’re supposed to “live life with no regrets” and “don’t look back” and “everything happens for a reason”, but, this decision I made is something I have thought about pretty much every day since then- that’s 730 days I’ve played the same refrain in my mind, over and over.
See, two years ago today, (and I know this because of my Timehop App— thanks social media) I boarded my airline, the one I worked for, with my little boy. We were headed to my parent’s house for Christmas. I was 32 weeks pregnant. I had a job I loved, a new baby on the way, my husband was working at his “major” airline (a step up from the regional world). Things were great.
I sat on that airplane and watched my co-workers, the flight crew, work their asses off. Christmas time is a tough time to be a flight attendant. People bring all their issues with them onto the plane and tend to drink. Plus, most passengers during the holidays are not “seasoned”, ie, they really don’t know what they are doing.
On that particular flight, I witnessed a “service animal” bark incessantly throughout the cabin service, an angry man behind my bitch about the overhead bin space for a great majority of the flight, and some woman overdrink to the point of puking in her seat. And guess who cleaned the vomit up? Not her—- that’s right, the friendly in-flight staff.
Sitting there, rubbing my round ball of a belly, I thought, “I think I’m done”.
My old airline offered an annual buyout to their flight attendants. They called it the “Career Choice”. IE- this ain’t a career, go get a real one. Beyond the offensive title, it came with $10,000 and three years of travel privileges if you decided to quit your job. Every year I thought about taking it, but never did.
But two years ago, I felt ready.
I got off that flight really thinking I’d take the buyout. The deadline to opt in was only two days away.
I fretted, cried, discussed, argued, and obsessed over this decision the next two days. After much thought and consideration, I opted in.
I knew my new baby would take up a lot of time, and I wanted to breastfeed her exclusively for at least a year. The airline expected new moms to return to work after about 4 months off – that’s what I’d done with my older son, but I figured this round, this baby, I’d fully commit to it.
So, yeah. Since then I’ve had two babies. My husband is still working, supporting us. My life is a lot more quiet. I have dreams where I’m still employed at my airline, and I’m walking through a terminal, or headquarters, waving and talking to all the wonderful people I used to call co-workers. I often wake from these dreams crying. Seriously. My husband still finds it bizarre I have so much love for a place of employment. He honestly doesn’t understand.
When I was a flight attendant, I was at ease. My best self. I loved my job. Loved it. This huge part of my self-identity is gone now. I mourn it all the time.
I realize just yesterday I posted about how I love being a “mom” and being my kid’s world, and this is still true. But — the thing about the airline world is — it’s not exactly easy to get back into it. I tried last year before I knew I was pregnant with H. I made it to the final rounds at two different major airlines but they both passed on me. I think my primary mistake was my honesty. I shouldn’t have talked about my kids, my pilot husband. In five years after all the kids are in school I plan to enter the airline job market again and this time, I’m taking my wedding ring off and going to spin a yarn about quitting due to working on my writing. It’s sort of true.
So, anyway, this day is mixed for me. I’ve gained so much since then in my family – my marriage is better than it ever was after a pretty rough 2015 – and I’m extremely grateful to be able to stay home with my babies, but a part of me will always look back at this date as the day I gave up the dream.