posted in Parenting
My biggest concern about flying with my baby — besides his wellbeing — was other passengers. I imagined every worst case scenario. He’d cry. I’d get dirty looks or maybe someone would lose their marbles and scream.
Guess what? All of that happened.
And I survived. In fact, it turned out to be one of the most supportive experiences of my life. Even though a fellow passenger yelled and mom shamed me.
We tried to do everything right by our son and the other passengers. He had his own seat and we secured an entire row in the back of the airplane. My mom came along to help. We had an FAA-approved carseat, toys, snacks, everything we could think of.
Like all good intentions, things went awry. The flight was delayed by hours. He was tired and disoriented, though we felt a sense of solidarity when we saw a family with three kids behind us. After takeoff both my son and the baby behind us were crying and fussing. It was nothing excessive and it was only around 3 p.m. We did our best to keep him calm and happy.
The woman in front of us turned around and gave me a dirty look. I thought I imagined it, obviously I was hyper-sensitive. After the third glare my husband said, “we’d be dead if looks could kill” and nodded her way. It was clear a problem was brewing.
Over the next hour she continued to whip her ahead around anytime my son made any sound — a giggle, a babble, a burp. At one point the flight attendants offered to move her because she was so visibly irritated, but she had empty seats around her and declined. Eventually, I stood up to walk my son. He wasn’t crying, I just wanted to temporarily remove myself from the situation. She saw me stand and directly addressed me.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked. I was stunned into silence as she continued. “You’re completely selfish and have no right bringing a baby on an airplane. You’ve ruined my entire flight and everyone else’s.”
In hindsight there are a million other things I could have said. Some I wish I’d said. Instead, I mumbled an apology while holding back tears. She added that only a mother who didn’t care about her child would take them on a long flight (It was roughly 9.5 hours).
I explained that my son was happy and healthy, and we provided everything he could need on the flight. I also said we paid for his seat, giving him as much of a right as she had to be on the flight.
She said she wouldn’t be able to sleep thanks to my son, and I owed her and everyone else an apology. At that point my husband offered to buy her headphones to watch the movie. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes as her glare shifted to my husband and she hissed, “too late!”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked. “It’s only 4:30 p.m., he’ll be sleeping soon.”
“What I want is for you to not have taken this flight. It’s rude and selfish to all of us, and horrible to do this to your baby.”
The flight attendants were nowhere to be seen. Fellow passengers watched the exchange with their mouths agape. I was ready to leap the row of seats and pounce, my husband held me back and suggested I take that walk. I felt like an awful mother.
As for her? She actually slept most of the flight.
I’m choosing to remember the man who came to the back of the plane to stand with me. Who, in broken English, told me traveling with children is hard and that I was doing a great job. Or the kind woman who came to our seats every few hours to see how the “brave mom” was holding up.
And the woman who sought out my mom to tell her that she was horrified by that woman’s words, and asked her to let me know that she didn’t share her opinions. The kind smiles and looks of encouragement everyone else gave us. Not her. She’s not worth remembering.
When the plane landed she was much more calm and only wanted to speak about her concern for my child. Not quarrel, as she said. But trust me, she didn’t feel that way a few hours prior.
This video isn’t explosive like our first interaction. She looks like Mary Poppins here as opposed to a few hours prior. My husband and I chose to film this because she was so aggressive initially that when she approached me again we didn’t know what would happen.
I don’t want to scare anyone, just let parents know that even if there’s an interaction with a fellow passenger you will endure. It will be okay, and it may even turn out to be a great experience.
If you see a family flying with a small child give them a smile. Tell them they’re doing a great job. Chances are, they could probably use that encouragement.
For more of my mom shenanigans follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.
Were you nervous to fly with your children? How was your experience?
The post Video: I was mom shamed for bringing my baby on an airplane appeared first on BabyCenter Blog.