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My Sister In Law Took My Baby

When Alexander was five months old and Jane was three, I took my kids to Seattle to visit my brother and his family. I booked the travel in August of 2001 and took the trip in October of 2001. I think everyone in America knows that that trip I’d planned was very different than the trip we took.

I’d planned that my husband would walk the kids and I to the gate, and that my brother would be waiting at the other end for us. I’d planned that the double stroller and the two car seats wouldn’t be much of an issue, and that security would be perfunctory since I was a young mother with two small children.

I hadn’t planned on slinging a carseat over each shoulder and having to taste my son’s formula.

So, on the second day of the trip when Alexander was fussing endlessly, and I was rocking him while gritting my teeth, my sister in law calmly stretched her arms out and rocked my son. She rocked him for an hour. He cried for an hour. My nerves were rattled, she was impossibly calm.

So when I hear about a flight attendant taking custody of a one year old child who is being smacked, I get it. I get it on every level. I know what it’s like to reach the end of your rope, but I don’t know what it’s like to reach it without support. I’ve had family within a five minute radius since I became a mother.

The next time I see a mom at wit’s end, instead of raising my brows, perhaps I’ll be like my sister in law and raise my hand to volunteer. Because sometimes holding someone else’s crying baby is like moving mountains.

17 thoughts on “My Sister In Law Took My Baby”

  1. Absolutely, we all need help sometimes and like any other mother, I’ve hit my limit from time to time. The question is, where do you define your limit?

    In the case of the Southwest Airlines story, the flight attendant took the baby out of the mother’s arms because she saw her hit the child in the face with an open palm. The mother herself did not argue that point. She said she “popped” her 13-month old because the baby kicked her. Was that her limit? Or is there farther that mother would go to discipline her child?

    I’ve gotten incredibly frustrated with my son. I’ve screamed myself silly. But my limit does not include hitting babies in in the face.

    1. I’m hopeful that some parenting classes are made available for the parents.

      I wouldn’t “pop” my husband in the face, so I certainly wouldn’t “pop” my child.

  2. You’ve got a lot of great comments here and on Posterous. I just want to quote this line again:

    “Because sometimes holding someone else’s crying baby is like moving mountains.”

    So true. Well said.

    p.s. Since I cannot shut up apparently… Do you notice a difference in cultures though? For instance, I got a feeling that in the U.S. people tend to frown on strangers’ attentions on their kids, even those from kind grandmother types. I actually would hesitate to ask a mother whether she needs help since I have read enough blog posts complain about the asker being a judgmental bitch etc etc. Whereas when I went home (in Asia), the baby was passed around and I was able to enjoy myself. At one restaurant, the staff actually gave the baby a grand tour while I enjoyed a lovely meal in peace. I have heard similar experiences from friends who went to Italy and Spain…

  3. So spot on! I had such a hellish flight when my oldest was about 7 months old. My identification card was expired, and I was put through hell. Breasts leaking, screaming baby, spilled diaper bag, my pumped milk leaked, and the staff at the airport in Orlando were COLD. I was crying walking through security check point..and thank the stars some kind man helped me. Gathered my stuff, held Abigail while I got my shoes on, and straightened out everything. He saw I was at my breaking point, helped me. It was all I needed and all I wanted. While other people just shot me awful looks while waiting for my flight with still fussy baby. Some lady said ” Just give her a bottle and keep her quiet”.
    Some other lady told her to shove it, lol! Seriously, the support I received that day? I’ll never forget. And in return, I’ll try my best to offer the same!

  4. ABSOLUTELY!!!!!

    Even if you can’t stop and move someone’s mountains, it’s the little things like holding a door open for someone with a stroller or infant car seat. Or making funny faces at my cranky toddler while I checkout at the grocery to distract her. When I say thank you, it’s not because it’s obligatory….I say it from the bottom of my heart, which can sometimes be a desperate place.

    1. I second this, wholeheartedly. Taking the time to engage with her… Or even you know, NOT making that comment when she’s melting down.

  5. Thank you. As a mother who lost her own mother and main support system two years ago, you have no idea how much this matters. You love your babies with every ounce of your being, but meltdowns are imminent on both sides. No matter how “good” of a parent you are, there is only so much patience any human being can have. Yes, please do be the person who steps in for the mom who is at the end of her rope. You may just be her saving grace.

  6. I love this story. As a mom of two children under four, with no family nearby, I’ve experienced the generosity of other moms around me when I needed just a little support. I try to be there for them too. That unexpected helping hand can make all the difference.

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