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.