11 Jul 2012

Why you should be kind to the mom on your flight

Our family is off to the lake and the woods on vacation this week. Where there’s no Internet. So I’m sharing five of my favorite posts from the last couple years while I’m gone. I hope they’ll be favorites for you too. Wishing you watermelon afternoons and sand between the toes.

When I board the plane and see her and the toddler in my row the first thing I think is, “Thank goodness I wasn’t rude or irritable when I saw them earlier in the restroom.” Because we will be close companions now for the next hour and a half.

She’s juggling all those adorable baby rolls and bags of toys and tricks to keep him occupied when I slide into the seat next to them. I can feel she’s nervous and I’m so happy to be able to smile when he throws a toy at my leg and say, “It’s OK; I have three.”

Three. How did this happen? How did I become the mother of three children? I always find it the most remarkable when I’m not with them. When I’m seeing that number through someone else’s eyes. She smiles relief and I know we’re partners now for the next 90 minutes hovering over the wide open spaces between DC and Chicago.

She is patient and keeps up a running, quiet narrative to keep him distracted. She rocks him with her whole self and the plane rocks them both.

It’s a wonder this art of wrapping oneself around a tiny human being to give them food, comfort, warmth, security.

The sun beats unrelenting against the closed shutters and the small baby beats big fists at the back of the chair and wails the frustration of the bored, tired.

She entertains. She laughs. She tickles. We feed him snacks and each other encouragement because this is the way of mothers everywhere. We know. We know on that deep, been up since 2am feeling, what it’s like to hold teething babes and rock colicky infants and still break into wide smiles when they grin all goofy gums at us.

We know the rock and the rhyme and the rhythm of this strange dance that is parenthood.

We rock and roll babes in the crook of tired arms on crowded airplanes because it’s our calling and our gift. Yes, gift. The hard and the sleepless and the sometimes almost excruciating joy – it is all a gift that if we don’t pause and appreciate will slip through our fingers like so many loads of laundry lost in the swirling, whirly gig of repetitive busy that can weigh a mother down.

But when I sit in that plane in that seat next to a young mom and her one-year-old I can’t help but admire her at work. Because this is her work and her vocation and to see her in action is to appreciate the God that designed this living parable of why He would willingly sacrifice His whole self for us. There it is– the choice to give comfort, to feed, to nurture even when the recipient is unwilling and unappreciative.

And when he passes out, sweaty head curled into her shoulder, I wonder if any of the other passengers realize what went on here in row 18. If they know that this young mom is in the thick of her work day and what an artist she is when she brings all her patience and love to bear on a baby oblivious to the effort it costs.

I silently, inwardly applaud her.

Surely there is a standing ovation somewhere – if not in the aisles of this plane – then out there in the heavens that we’re passing through.

Comments

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  1. 1

    I love this! Having been that mama many times, I know what a blessing it is to have a kindred spirit on those flights. And, you are right. Being a mama is a calling and a blessing.

  2. 2
    Hayley Stevens says:

    Beautifully put…. I am a mother preparing for a 3 hour flight with my 10 month old daughter and 2 1/2 yr old son. I’m bringing my bag of tricks- had a friend’s mother sew him his own backpack and coaxing his airplane excitement by prepping him about riding on a plane again. It’s his sister’s first flight. He is a veteran! I am already nervous about being ‘that’ mom on the flight and worry my son’s rambunctious personality will get the best of me! Thank you so much for this thought… you have put me a hit more at ease! I will think of this a week from tomorrow!

  3. 3

    Beautiful post. I often wish that more people were MORE lenient with us poor mamas when we are on flights with our kiddos. This was a gorgeous way to verbalize though what it is to have a “work day” as a mother.

  4. 4

    What a lovely post – it’s a good one for letting parents know they’re appreciated.

  5. 5
    Tamara Sz says:

    Oh, thank you thank you for this post. It was gift from God before a long-haul overseas flight tomorrow with my just turned 1 year old and my full of energy 3 year old. A good reminder to me of how God sees me, especially after I just read a bunch of rude comments on an article about flying with children.

    I am blessed again by your writing and the sharing of your heart. I, too, am married to a man who I love very much, but who is not from my own culture. And I too, live far from that home culture and have a wonderful family that I love and miss with my whole heart

    Thank you!

  6. 6

    I have never equated motherhood with artistry, but what a beautiful image that created for me. I love being a mother, but it does so often feel more like a factory, than a canvas with an array of colors before me to choose from. Yet, when it comes down to it, our children’s lives are museums with various halls of paintings…the balloon splattered abstract of toddlerhood, the Picasso of elementary years, a Monet with the softer edges of adulthood all leading to a DaVinci like portrait, with secrets gleaming behind the eyes. We help choose colors and brushes, what kind of canvas, watercolor or oils…surely they are each Museums and even the least creative among us can say we contributed to a beautiful and timeless masterpiece.

  7. 7
    Sharon O says:

    Beautifully written, beautiful baby girl. Such sweetness.

  8. 8

    As a mama of grown-ups you made me cry…again! This is so beautiful and articulates how I feel as I watch my baby girl mother her own babies :) Hope ya have a great week.

  9. 9

    Well said. :)!

  10. 10

    i never thought of myself as an artist when i tried to console my first child who cried for three years! love this post!

  11. 11

    Thank you. This is lovely and so affirming of motherhood.

  12. 12

    That was a very lovely post. I know exactly what it is like to try and entertain a child on a plane. I always feel bad when a sweet mother has difficulty with keeping a baby from crying. I know she feels nervousthat she is causing discomfort for others. I always hope the other passengers have children and have loving sympathy for her.
    Blessings to you!

  13. 13

    Thank you for this gorgeous tribute and encouragement- especially as we are about to travel cross-country with our two kids…

    I needed the reminder that it’s my calling, my vocation, and my artistry. Beautiful words to encourage my heart, replacing the fretting and the what-ifs…

  14. 14

    So beautiful. Mothers do share this bond and this connection. You took me back to the first plane ride I ever took with my little boy when he was only 5 months old. That was the longest day of my life!! ;)

  15. 15

    Yes, a great reminder of our calling as mothers. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in making it through the day that we forget to stop and see this gift of motherhood for the blessing it is. Thank you for your ongoing encouragement and inspiration!

  16. 16
    Stephanie says:

    Beautiful!! This brought tears to my eyes, probably because I’ve flown so much with my children… Thank you for recognizing and beautifully articulating the respectable work of full-time motherhood.
    Lovies, xx

  17. 17

    What an amazing tribute to motherhood and the Heavenly Father who designed the whole thing! Lisa-Jo, your writing–OH! your writing girl!! You have an amazing gift and I am privileged to read your words–you teach me much!

  18. 18
    Christine says:

    Simply beautiful. What a lovely tribute to motherhood. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

  19. 19

    L.O.V.E. this, BEAUTIFUL, artist, yes indeed!

  20. 20

    Oh Lisa-Jo, having just been through this for the first time, I so resonate with your words. I loved that you said said, “This young mom is in the thick of her work day”. How true, and yet I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. Traveling to England and Ireland this summer was ever so much more exhausting than it ever was before, especially as someone who is always wondering what people around are thinking. Thank heavens for understanding seatmates, and moments when the little one passes out and you can soak up the wonder of them without worrying about containing them! :)

  21. 21

    What a lovely post. I love that last part especially about heaven applauding, just beautiful :-)

  22. 22

    There’s nothing sweeter than seeing a mother really love on her children. And you wrote it beautifully.

  23. 23

    Once when I was on a flight, several rows ahead of me was a young mother with a very unhappy toddler. At one point in the flight I wrote this on a piece of paper and passed it up to her: “Your fussy child is not bothering the rest of us as much as he is bothering you. Relax, it’s okay.” She turned around to see who had sent her that message and I smiled. She smiled. And she relaxed. And I’m pretty sure she remembers that incident. I did it because I was once her and now I’m not. I’m now the one who it doesn’t bother. The other thing I like to do is compliment a mommy when I observe wonderful parenting. I think we all need to do that for one another. This was a wonderful post.

  24. 24

    I wish that Mom could stumble upon your post. Great post of honor!

  25. 25

    Where were you on my last plane ride?!!!! I do have to say, flying southwest and sitting towards the back will almost ALWAYS give you that empty seat, but not when it’s a full flight. Great post, and great perspective.

  26. 26

    I am going to make copies of this and pass this out to everyone on board our flight out to the midwest in the fall! I will be armed with DVD players, crayons, stickers, and lots of snacks! You write so beautifuly!

  27. 28

    beautiful; absolutely beautiful. that last line stole my heart.

  28. 29

    oh to have had that post to read when my babies were 19 months and an infant. when i was in the baby-fog that enveloped every single part of me. when i was discouraged and enhausted and felt like no one even cared.

    to have had that post to read and be reminded that Someone, somewhere, was applauding my work. my diaper-changing, baby-nursing, heiny-wiping work.

    beautifully said, lisa-jo.

  29. 30

    I cried when I read this, it sounds silly doesnt it. But I am daunted, on monday I will be taking my first flight with my daughter. We will be travelling alone from South Africa to go and live in portugal. She is two and feisty and full of fidgets…I sometimes feel overhwhelmed at the thought of keeping her sane and my sanity on a 25hr trip across the world, with an aeroplane full of people to stare me down if she misbehaves.
    All the time I am on these flights with her, I will remember that I am in the midst of my work and we will be ok….
    thank-you, this is just what we needed!

  30. 31

    Beautiful. I almost cried so many times reading this. It’s so simple, but so true. Thanks for sharing.

  31. 32

    Laughing at myself as I sit here and read this post with tears in my eyes! I was “that mom” on a flight this week, 2300 miles with three kiddos in tow (and a slew of travelers around me who were far less gracious toward my wiggly two-year old than you were to this young mom!). I love to see the differences that naturally define writers; my perspective on flying in a post I wrote a few weeks ago was so factual — so “here’s how you might make it easier on yourself” — and yours was so caring. Compassionate. Loving. Thank you for counterbalancing my perspective and way of thinking via each post you write.

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