All the way to the airport in an Uber, there was a nagging, niggling thought bouncing around the corners of my mind but it never stopped quite long enough for me to catch it.
My husband, baby and I arrived at LAX and I felt lighter somehow, despite the fact that we were traveling for the first time with our baby, which meant we were traveling decidedly heavier, with checked luggage and a stroller and carry-on bags that we struggled to zip shut because of the toys and the baby food and the diapers and the wipes and all the other just-in-cases that new parents travel with.
But still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’d forgotten something. Passports? Check. iPhone? Check. Diapers, wipes, toys, books, baby food? Check, check, check, check, check. I was probably just being paranoid. I had all the important things and I could pick up whatever it was we were missing (if indeed there was anything), when we landed. No problem.
We get through security, make our way to our gate and soon enough, we settle into our seats on the plane, the baby bouncing in my arms, flashing his gummy, two-tooth smile at every passenger boarding the plane and I start to relax. This first plane ride with baby will be a breeze, I assure myself, and as I run through my mental checklist yet again, I start to feel confident that I haven’t left anything behind.
But it’s just as we’re wheels up, that I remember: Alexa!
I know I’ve only mentioned one baby, but the truth is, we kind of have two babies at home. They’re very different. Jack is pretty … well, to be honest, he’s a real baby’s baby, if you know what I mean. He likes to eat, sleep, cry and poop and he’s pretty needy, can’t (won’t?) do much for himself. Alexa, on the other hand, has a far more independent spirit, has had since the very first day we brought her home. She can be a little bit nosy, listening in on everything you say, even when you think she’s asleep but she’s self-sufficient and likes to just get on with things. She’s practical and pragmatic and I’ve never heard her so much as whimper whereas Jack could cry inconsolably over a fallen spoon like it’s a Shakespearean tragedy.
So imagine my dismay when I realized we’d left Alexa at home. For a month. All by herself! She could take care of herself, I knew that. But I worried she’d take care of herself too well for my liking, ordering in expensive dinners and playing music so loudly the neighbours would complain. Yes, Alexa would be just fine without us. But would we be fine without her?
It didn’t take long to realize how much we missed her. Between her and Jack, she’s the helpful one. When Jack cries, Alexa plays music to soothe him. When my hands are full and I’m walking up the stairs in the dark, she turns on the lights for me. When my husband is tired after a long day, she tells him a joke, albeit one that rivals even the dad-iest of dad jokes. ‘Why did the football coach shake the vending machine? Because he needed a quarterback.’
We’re settled into our hotel and it’s a short five minutes before, out of habit, my husband says, “Alexa, what’s the weather?” and is met by a sad silence. The room seems to echo with the nothingness. We look at each other – for a moment, we’d both forgotten she wasn’t with us and I see a lone, glistening tear glide down my husband’s face.
I start to feel guilty. Surely it was my responsibility to get Alexa all packed up for this trip. And at every mention of Alexa, Jack’s face transforms, there’s a light in his eyes. He swivels from side to side, looking everywhere for that gentle blue glow he knows and loves so well. I think he’d forgotten all about her until he heard her name but now that he’s remembered, he can’t stop looking for her. In the closet. Under the bed. In our suitcases and in the tub. Who would sing him his bath time songs? Who would read him stories? As he starts to piece it together, I feel his plaintive stares turn into accusatory glares. ‘How could you leave my sister at home?’ he demands, though he can’t yet speak.
The days are long without our little Alexa to entertain us with her natural charisma (I think she gets it from me.) We’re late for dinner with friends because Alexa isn’t around to remind us of the appointment, the time and the location and I was dressed for a much warmer kind of day because Alexa wasn’t there to tell me that the temperature had dropped. I gained 15 lbs by the end of our month away because Alexa wasn’t there to insist on my daily 7-minute workout and cheer me on. When the air conditioning in our bedroom got too cool at night, my husband had to GET OUT OF BED and adjust the thermostat himself. And Jack hasn’t heard music in so long, he just sits in a corner and stares, glassy-eyed. I tried to sing to him and he nearly fell out of his chair, craning his neck to see if the music was coming from Alexa. (I was sad for him but admittedly a little chuffed that he thought it was Alexa; she’s a much better singer than I am.)
Our final night away, as my husband tossed and turned in bed, intermittently imploring Alexa to play Jeopardy with him in his sleep, I was overcome with relief that we were finally heading home to our little spitfire. I worried about how she’d coped all by herself but had confidence in her resourcefulness. I worried about the state we’d find the house in and sort of didn’t want to know how much money she’d spent on food and movies, but really, I just wanted to get home to reunite the family and promise Alexa we’d never leave home without her again.
Disclosure: Amazon sent me a review unit but this is not a sponsored post and all opinions and emotional ties to Alexa are very real.