Delayed. My flight has been delayed by more than two hours. Sigh. I’m sitting in the Toronto airport. I’m supposed to be on a flight bound for Frankfurt, leaving in twenty five minutes, but instead I will sit here for an extra two hours and hope that the crew, currently stuck in Montreal, will make it here soon.

Fortunately, I have lots of time to spare in Frankfurt before catching my connection to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Unless something goes seriously wrong I should make it.

As I sit here, I recognize the now-familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach – a healthy dose of excitement, mixed with a small measure of guilt. I love hopping on airplanes and heading off on adventures, but when I kiss my family good-bye and they stand there on the other side of the security barricade fighting the tears, I feel a little sick to my stomach. Is it okay to say goodbye to them for two weeks? Am I a bad mother for occasionally putting my dreams and my career ahead of my kids? Will they hate me for this and grow up damaged by my occasional disappearance?

I know I will miss them, but I also know that they will miss me more. It’s always harder being the one left at home. I will have enough adventure and excitement to keep me from intense loneliness, but they have only the ordinariness of daily routine. They will feel the absence of Mommy every single day.

Don’t get me wrong though – the guilt is never strong enough to make me reconsider my life and my choices. I love what I do and I will continue to do it, despite the occasional spasm of guilt for leaving now and then. In the end, I know that the opportunity to fulfill my wanderlust once in awhile makes me a better mother because it makes me happier. And a happier mom makes for happier kids.

Switching topics (because I can only talk about Mommy guilt for so long before I get distracted by more interesting things), I had a delightful conversation on the flight from Winnipeg to Toronto. I don’t always chat with people on airplanes – usually I relish the opportunity to sit quietly with my own thoughts and read or watch a movie. But since I have lots of flying ahead of me, I didn’t mind sharing a couple of hours with an interesting seat-mate. Tom, my flying companion, is a pilot who was on his way home after a shift. He’s in the process of moving from Halifax to Winnipeg.

He had lots of stories to tell, but the best one was about the time he flew for a skydiving company. Just as I discovered when I went skydiving, he said jump instructors are often cut from the same cloth. They’re adrenaline junkies who love to party, and they often portray the same persona as surfer dudes. At the company where he was working, they had an annual tradition of doing a nude group jump. On one of these events, a storm was beginning to blow in, and he said he wasn’t sure they could do the jump. But the flight instructors kept pushing him to fly them up despite the approaching clouds. So he did, but insisted they get out of the plane a little earlier then planned because he wanted to make it back to the ground before the storm arrived. Just as he was landing, the storm arrived, and two of the jumpers got blown way off course. They landed two miles away from the hanger, in a plowed corn field. There they were, in the middle of a muddy field, buck naked with the rain pouring down on them. They hiked to the nearest road, wrapped their chutes around them, and tried to hitch a ride. Not surprisingly, no one stopped to pick up the muddy, bedraggled, naked skydivers. Eventually, they were found by one of their partners who’d gone in search of them. Since then, I’m sure they’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of THAT story!

Yay! I just found a spot in the terminal with wireless! At first I’d have to post this from Frankfurt, but now I can get it online sooner. For you, my dear readers, I searched for a connection so that you wouldn’t have to wonder for a moment longer “where’s Heather at?”

By the way, isn’t an airport just the most fascinating place to people-watch? I just sat in the cafe watching a young woman have a vicious fight with her lover. She spoke French, but there were enough English swear words and hand gestures thrown in that I could catch the drift. I often marvel at people’s comfort level on cell phones – do they REALLY not mind that anyone can listen in on their personal intimate moments?

Oh – they’re calling for pre-boarding on my flight – gotta go! Catch up with you soon!

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