So, sometimes on Fridays, we take part in what has been called an online flash mob called Five Minute Fridays. It’s this really cool thing where bloggers are given a one word prompt, and then take 5 minutes to just free-write about whatever that word brings to mind (and keyboard). It is a great exercise in being in the moment, and we have found some great blogs in the process. They are taking a break until 2014, but I saw this post by Lisa Jo Baker, the person who started FMF, that touched me. It was called “Why You Should Be Kind to the Mom On Your Flight”, and it was a call not to roll your eyes in the disgust at the lady who gets on your long plane ride with possibly loud kids in tow. I was moved by just the title before I even read the whole post, and then the article itself really got to me, because I have been that mom on a flight, and I wrote briefly about that experience in the comment section of her post. Then right after that, I saw this thing on Facebook that said “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
I have been the person who thinks I can sum up people by one glance, and thus makes up my own narrative about them, and I have also been in the place of grace where people could have been annoyed at me, but instead chose kindness, even though they had no idea what I was going through. Didn’t matter. They were kind without that info. So, I wanted to share my own “Mom on the Plane” story.
My son was born in spring of 2012, and while it was an extremely happy time, we were also going through something very sad: my dad was dying of cancer, and was, actually, hanging on so he could meet the baby. As soon as I was cleared to fly, my husband, our 2 week-old, and I boarded a straight flight to Arkansas. We were deliriously sleepy, so thrilled to be seeing my mom and to have her, my aunt, and my dad meet the baby, but also conflicted about the hello/possible/probable goodbye with my dad .So we loaded up all of our stuff, and we got on the plane, not quite sure how the boy was going to be, and hoping that we weren’t “those people with the kid on your plane”. You know, the one that you immediately complain about when your sister picks you up at your destination, and that you point to when you are waiting for your luggage, “whispering” that THAT KID CRIED THE WHOLE TIME, smugly and fake-neighborly hoping that they are okay. But more than anything, you are flipping annoyed. And that mom knows it. She does.
But on that flight, people weren’t annoyed. Well, if they were, they were good actors. They smiled. And they told us after the flight was over what a good traveler the baby was. And this lovely lady in the Little Rock airport bathroom, where I ducked into change the baby’s diaper, walked over to my screaming son on the changing table and said to him about me, “Be nice. She’s new at this, too.” They had no idea that they were preparing our hearts with love, and that we were going to need it for what we were going to be living with when we got there. And a few days later, when it was time to return, I flew back by myself, since my husband had to leave earlier to get home for work. We had had a lovely, quiet visit with my dad, but he had taken a turn before we left and was non-verbal (and was from that point on until he passed away a week later). I was coming to terms with that, and feeling loss in a way that I couldn’t put into words. Feeling guilty that we were leaving my mom and aunts and uncle. Praying for something miraculous to save my dad. Wanting to get back home to my husband. Feeling angry that my dad, who had fought so hard for so many years was leaving us, prayerfully able to meet the grandson he had waited for for so long but who he wouldn’t get to see grow. Wanting to avoid what was coming and couldn’t. No one who was on that flight back to Baltimore knew all of that stuff was going on when they saw me carrying the now 3-week old baby in his baby carrier thing. But what they did was a healer. The lady who we walked past and said to whoever she was talking to on her phone, “The CUTEST baby just walked past me”, giving me the sweetest smile. The people who looked at us warmly was we boarded. The ones who gave me looks of “it’s okay” when he started to cry, which didn’t last that long, thankfully. The man who sat behind us who carried stuff for us off of the plane. None of them knew my story. All of them were on the same plane, with their own stories. They could have been mean, or annoyed, or ignored us. But they were kind. They were nice. And they made things easier for the moment.
So yes. People might be going through some stuff. And you might be helping them, just by being kind. A lot. So do it. Okay?
Was there a time when someone offered you a kindness at a time when you really needed it? Tell us about it!