So I am travelling for a couple of days with work this week. Not too far- just a trip to the South of France for a couple of days.
I must admit I have been quite looking forward to a bit of solo travel- time to browse the airport shops, maybe linger over the makeup and perfume, free from the rigours of baby-friendly travel. My last big travel experience was a lesson in how these two worlds can collide- facing a transatlantic flight with two under 3's on my own, I found myself in the toilet at Heathrow terminal 5 trying to control the clamour of 2 restless children. When I stepped out, all nappies and crumbs and dishevelment, I came face to face with a work colleague. A rather surprised work colleague I should add.
But today, on my own, I am free to survey, spritz, select and purchase, and buckle up for the ride.
It was when I arrived at my destination that something rather disconcerting happened. Whilst I was waiting for my colleagues, I noticed an older couple standing next to me and watching impatiently at the arrivals. Suddenly, through the sliding doors, appeared a couple with a small toddler. They looked up expectantly and saw the older couple (we can assume grandparents) waiting for their arrival. It seems they hadn’t seen their grandson for a little while. They knelt down, almost in awe, beckoning their grandchild gently- you could see what they wanted to do was swoop him up in a massive hug. In true toddler style the child was shy and hung on to his father before finally breaking into a smile of greeting. Joy. Hugs all round and off they go, on to their lives.
Meanwhile I’m standing there, with work colleagues, sunglasses on, fighting back the tears.
The scene strikes me for 2 reasons- its reminiscent of my own parents turning up unexpectedly to meet me back from said transatlantic trip with the girls- unwilling to wait a moment longer and overjoyed to see them. The grandparent/grandchild bond is repeated the world over.
But the reunion is also a scene reminiscent of the (dare I say cheesy?) montage at the end of "Love Actually", and one that is familiar day after day in airports around the world: brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, parents and children, lovers all sharing an outpouring of emotion and connection, in a strangely public and anonymous place. And it makes me want to cry. Every time.
Of course, I can put some of it down to being a mummy, which means that even the silliest things (recent John Lewis ads!, watching BGT) can draw a tear.
But there is something universally compelling and emotional about witnessing, or indeed being part of, an airport reunion. Flying through the arrivals gate from the anonymity of transit into the arms of loved ones, the mix of excitement, anticipation, nervousness, love that peppers these reunions, are played out large in the echoing airport arrivals lounge- true emotion, stripped back, out there for all to see. That’s real life isn’t it?- perhaps grandiose to say- but it’s universal and binds us together.
So, back in my French arrival lounge, I dig out my blackberry, draw a breath, and tap away, focussing on the day ahead, and polite conversation. But, really, I’m looking forward to my return, in a few days, to my husband and children, waiting expectantly at the arrivals gate of Terminal 5, for me to round the corner.
Posted by By North London Mums Wednesday, 4 April 2012 parenting