On the second leg of my long flight home today from a business trip, I had the pleasure of flying with a set of twins and their parents. I say it was a pleasure, others on my flight Im sure would not agree. The two kids – one boy and one girl – were 14 months old, and clearly did not like the idea of flying, being stuck in their car seats, not being able to run/crawl around and play, etc. From the moment they boarded and settled into their seats, the kids were crying.
I actually wasn’t 100% sure there were two, as I saw the mom board with the daughter in her arms, but two of the same toy, and I saw the dad board with a car seat, but later the dad came back for the second seat, and then I started to hear one cry and eventually realized there were two different cry’s going on. I felt for the mom (and dad) when I thought it was just one child, but being a fellow mom of multiples, I really felt for them. Its hard enough to deal with two kids crying, but to do it on a packed airplane where you KNOW what everyone around you is thinking, I can only imagine how overwhelmed she was feeling.
Unfortunatley, I know that for myself, I can sometimes be more concerned with what everyone around me is thinking when Im in public and the fact that they didn’t “sign up” to hear a child scream their heart out, so I usually give my daughter her pacifier or both of them food to help settle them down – because I know those items work. Or sometimes I know its just that they want mommy, and so I carry one or both to calm them down.
This mom stayed strong. She did not fall into the pressure of all the stares and whispers and stuck with parenting the way she parents. I saw no use of the pacifier and the kids were never drowning in snacks – although they did get mommy cuddles once that was possible J When she had no other choice, she stayed strong and let them cry and try to settle in.
I knew what this mom must have been feeling, and I remembered an article or blog post I read a while back about someone randomly telling a mom she was a great mom while her hands were full with her child and the errand she was running and how that made that mom feel. So once we were safely in the air and were able to get out of our seats, I took the short walk a few rows back and I went up to her and I told her that Im sure she doesn’t hear it enough – but that she is doing a great job. She thanked me and then apologized for the children. I told her not to apologize at all, I understand what she is going through as I too am a mom of twins – mine being 18 months old. We exchanged a few brief words and I told her and her husband that I would like to buy them a little valentines day gift and that they should order a drink or snack and Ill pay for it. They thanked me – but I knew they weren’t going to take me up on the offer because I too would have done the same thing, being too stubborn and strong to accept help from strangers (and non-strangers).
I then told the flight attendant who was selling snacks that if they did buy anything I was going to pay for it. At that time my coworker - who was traveling next to me and had been complaining about kids on planes and the crying - asked what I was doing. I explained that it was a mother of multiples and I knew what she was going through and I further explained the article I was reminded of, so I went back there to remind her what a great mom she is and that I wanted to buy them a drink or snack to help put a bright spot to their day. His face brightened and he didn’t make a single sound or facial reaction the rest of the flight when the kids cried.
I hope that I was able to make the mom and dad’s day a little brighter, but at the very least, I know I changed the opinion of another passenger and it made me feel like a better person.
So the next time you are on a plane – or out in public anywhere – and hear crying kids, try to think about how the parents are feeling, and instead of internally (or externally) complaining, go up to the parent(s) and let them know that they are doing a great job, because it will make them and you feel better, and you won’t even hear the cries anymore because you will feel so good.