The fasten seat belt light is on. We are settling down and beginning to taxi to the runway. And just as I get comfortable and begin to close my peaceful, three-yr-old-less traveling eyes, there it goes: blood-curdling screaming from a little girl who is just shy of “terribly two.”
People all around me begin shifting in their seats, most likely thinking or praying simultaneously, “Make it stop.” Passengers wince in disdain as they look around to see where the event is going down. My seat neighbors both look at me for some sort of validation for their similar feelings of both discomfort and sympathy, and I have not yet decided if I’m the annoyed person or the empathetic one.
As I am trying to decide what my feelings are, I look around and I immediately spot you and Emily Rose (oh yes… that was an exorcism joke) a few rows back, and I know right away it’s going to last a while. (I was right). I decide after seeing you squished between your other two children with the third on your lap that I would play the role of the empathetic traveler. Although I am slightly saddened that my ONLY flight without my own child would still get hijacked by someone else’s, I still really do feel bad for you.
It’s OK, mom in row 26. I know you’re probably freaking out inside. The guy grunting and saying, “Ugh… c’mon!” while your little one screams for 20 min on the tarmac isn’t helping. (In fact, he is far more annoying). You’re probably embarrassed and worried about all of us on this plane hating you or wishing your child would just pass out. I’m sure you’re sweating, panicking, and regretting your travel plans right now, too, but it’s OK. I’ve been there. Most of us on this plane have been there. Not all of us have been a mom, but ALL of us have come from one. (Raise your hand if you’ve never been a baby… Right?)
Just so you know, all of us in row 23 feel badly for you. (Not for the other plane riders, but you). We are OK. We will get through the loud screams and pretend that it isn’t happening, and we will go on our merry way, forgetting all about the ride. And we also hate the grumpy old man who is adding to your stress as much as you do.
There is nothing more exhausting than flying with a crying child. I know you need some support. I think to myself, what could I do to help? I debate getting up and holding her for you, but the seat belt light just won’t turn off, and I would feel even worse if I just make her more upset. I think, what would I want from someone in this moment? I would want to know that someone on this plane gets it. I would want for someone to reassure me that it isn’t as bad as it seems. So I decide to do just that. I look for a napkin and write to you: “It’s almost over, Mom. You are amazing! I’ve been there. Love, 23B.” Then I send my little words your way.
I hope my note to you cheered you up. I hope in receiving the little napkin scribbled with encouragement, you could relax a little more. I hope it helped relieve some guilt.
But mostly, I hope it reconfirmed to you that you’re doing an amazing job, and you deserve some credit. Being a mom is ridiculously hard, and I have been the mom in row 26 before.
To all of you moms who are traveling soon with little ones and your biggest fear is the reaction of the other plane-riders, don’t worry. I promise you there is another row 23 who will be cheering you on!
Kindness is free. Sprinkle that sh*t everywhere.
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