Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Grandparents won't fly, but want mom, baby twins to do so
Walla Walla, Wash.: I've got 6-month-old twins and a husband in a wheelchair, recovering from surgery.
I've also got parents on the opposite coast who are dying to see the babies in person, which they never have.
They won't visit me because they have severe hang-ups about travel: They find security disorienting, one has knee problems that make it difficult to sit still for hours, one gets anxious to the point of needing Valium when she flies, and they hate layovers, which are generally unavoidable. Plus, it's expensive and their budget is fixed.
So they want me to fly with the babies to visit them, which sounds like a nightmare for me without the help of my husband.
I'd be much more willing to bite the bullet and go if I didn't feel like so many of their objections to flying were surmountable, but part of me thinks I'm just being unsympathetic and making excuses.
What do you think?
Carolyn: Have to admit, I'm torn here, too. On the one hand, I can think of a bunch of practical ways you can accommodate their non-flying stance.
You can help them pay for a combination of car/rail travel, for example, or they can chip in for you to bring a friend or nanny to help you travel (expensive, but one ticket's cheaper than two).
You can assure them you're coming as soon as your husband is healed . . . which strikes me as a no-brainer, since he probably needs you for his own reasons.
On the other hand, I have a real problem with someone who thinks it's too terrifying for her to fly but is fine with having her 6-month-old grandbabies airborne, or who declares it too much of a hassle or physical strain, but pressures a new mom of twins to shoulder the hassles herself. To please them, no less.
Assuming you have the same conflicting impulses, I think you can reconcile them if you're able to decide which impulse is of more immediate importance to you: having your parents meet their grandchildren, or keeping your already substantial stress to a minimum.
Choosing the latter doesn't have to be final; you can revisit your decision periodically as conditions improve.
If you're still torn, then it's time to speak openly with your parents: "I could conceivably fly out there without Husband, but that promises to be extremely difficult for all four of us, and it's bothering me that you'd rather have the babies fly than to confront your fears or at least be patient until it's easier for us."
If you go that route, though, you might want to prepare beforehand to help them undertake the trip: check for and price direct flights; offer X percent of the cost; inquire about special services at the airports to help them with security; research ground transportation options, etc.
When you're taking a hard line on people you love, being ready with a softener can make the difference between a solution and a slap in the face.
Have some potential solutions in hand, ones that say, "I want to see you, too."