My youngest son and I went out of town last week. We left on a jet plane and went to visit my best friend and her family. This might seem like a small thing to some parents, but for me this was a big deal. The idea of traveling with a small child has always seemed daunting to me. But, I couldn't resist the chance to bring him along for the visit as my friend and I both had baby boys within six months of each other in 2017. It was meant to be.
To say my anxiety was at it's peak the days leading up to the trip would be an understatement. I did the research. I prepped the carry on bags, bought the snacks, and brought the toys. We were a little late getting to the airport on the way there, because this mom only flies once every few years, so we were rushed through security and put in a different seat than I had requested, but we made it.
And then something amazing happened.
It was subtle at first so I didn't notice it right away. It was a flight attendant stopping in the aisle to ask us if we needed anything. It was the nice man sitting next to us on the flight down offering to lower the arm rest between us so I could rest my tired elbows where my son was resting his back. It was another passenger stopping the line as everyone was exiting to let us off because even though he did great on the flight, we were ready for a change of scenery.
It was in the kindness of people on the trip. My best friend's husband picking up my son when he lifted his arms to him because he just wanted to held by someone different. It was in my best friend kindly accepting every item my son offered to her, even though I know she probably didn't really want his half eaten cookie. It was in the way one waitress went down to the restaurant's basement just to bring up a new carton of milk because only a mom would request whole milk at a pub.
It was in the way I had several women tell me how much he reminded them of their own little one at home, whether their own or their grandchild. It was in the way the beautiful woman in the security line on the way home helped to expand our stroller because that's really hard to do while holding a baby, putting my shoes back on, and strapped with two carry on bags. It was also in the way another mom helped to lift that same stroller onto the gate check cart because "they say you can do it all one-handed but every mom knows that's not true." Boy, was she right!
And finally, it was in the way that sweet older woman sitting across the aisle from us on the plane ride home caught my attention to whisper to me that my son was asleep in my lap since I couldn't see his face. She and I gave each other a thumbs up and my son slept the entire way home.
It was Mother's Day on that flight home. Along with the numerous "Happy Mother's Day" we received on the way home, I came to realize that this "village" we hear so much about, but often don't see, is there. They are in a kind waitress, an old friend, and a fellow mom on the plane. They are in a husband waiting with open arms to take a baby off a mama's hands so she can rest her tired arms around the neck of her other child who she missed so much.
This village, it's there. Look for it. Traveling with an infant wasn't so bad because of it.
This piece was originally published on the author's blog.