Would it be awkward for me to come up to you on an airplane and ask to hold your crying baby?
I mean I know that you don’t know me. But I’m melting over here into a puddle in 30D because your frazzled state is taking me back.
I remember the sweating from the endless pat, pat, pat and bounce, bounce, bounce. I recall the crackers on the floor and the toys flying out into the aisle. I can get in touch with trying to block out the stares and moans of other passengers while I try to entertain a toddler and soothe a baby at the same time.
I don’t wish to re-live those days of long haul flights with wee ones but something in me is mourning of late the season that we could all fit into one little airplane row.
These days everyone has the world blocked out with their headphones before we ever even board. Myself included.
And I’m thankful for that.
But when I hear a baby crying on a plane, I can close my eyes and be transported back to an overnight flight to China. My baby had refused to sleep, even after eleventy million hours of flying and two layovers. I was way past exhausted and felt the stares of everyone on the plane were as piercing as my child’s screams. At some point, I actually began to pray that the plane would just go down. In that moment, our little family slipping out of this world and into the next together felt like it would be a mercy.
A pair of arms reached out to me. An offer to hold my baby from a sweet flight attendant.
I was so surprised because on many flights in the US, I’d never had a flight attendant or anyone else offer to help me on a plane. This was my first trip to Asia with little ones and I was amazed at how welcomed our babies were by the people we met.
On our trip home from China, when we checked in for the long flight across the Pacific, the airline attendant took one look at us with our babies and she bumped us up to business class. I used the extra room to make sleeping palettes and we all got more sleep on that flight than we did our entire summer in China. It was bliss.
So to the Sweet Mama behind me in 28C, I’m looking at you with the mercy of someone who wishes they had the power to give you first class seats. I don’t want to be back in your shoes, but I see your blood pressure rising with each wail, and I would love to give you a moment’s peace.
Why don’t you catch your breathe while I walk that baby down the aisle? My hips still know the familiar swing of a baby calming dance. My arms remember how to cradle children, though mine are all too big for that now.
Would it be too terribly strange for me, a stranger, to reach out and take your baby? We both know she’s not going to fall asleep until a few minutes before we land.
For all the mamas (and daddies) out there flying with babies. Cheers to travel of all kinds and with all ages. Solidarity!