August 27, 2011

he sat next to me

I woke up early for my 8 am flight with my little one, it was the first time I've flown alone with her since she was three months old. I knew this time would be a little different. When we flew back in July Orion was with me and we shared the load of our active toddler. {i still have a hard time thinking of her that way, she's still my baby.}

To say the least I was nervous about traveling with her this time. I strategically packed as minimal as I could, knowing that I was going to have a carry on, diaper bag and stroller with me this time. In my mind I was reviewing how it was all going to go down at security check point.

We breezed through security, got there in plenty of time, a sweet man behind me helped me put all my stuff on the counter. While everyone behind me was patient as I took out everything liquid, and removed two sets of shoes and everything else you have to do in the airports these days.

One of the perks about flying with children, is pre boarding. Ava and I boarded our first 3 hour flight, we got to our seats and she was instantly fascinated with the window shade and looking outside and pulling it down then back up again.

A sweet family of four sat in the rows behind us, with their kiddos who'd never flown before. They sat there, while the rest of the plane boarded explaining to their kids who had a million questions about flying and why this and why that. It was cute, and I kinda chuckled to myself thinking that will be us one day explaining to Ava once she can fully understand flying one day.

Then he sat next to me.

A man, with black thick rimmed glasses looking all trendy in his skinny jeans and hat. We didn't say hello. He sat, I payed attention to Ava.

Completely wrapped up in keeping Ava occupied with snacks, toys and singing.

After a while, I heard the grunting, huffing and puffing from the guy sitting next to me. The kids behind us still asking questions to their parents. Being kids, they weren't yelling. Just lots of chatter between the family.

Then it became clear, this guy did not like kids. Ava was singing, and playing with her musical toys when an annoyed grunt came from him, then the eye rolling started. It was no more about the family behind me, it was about my kid too!

Then Ava touched him.

I thought the world was going to end right there. He let out a dramatic huff and eye roll and gave me a death glare as he tried to move farther away from us. I quickly apologized and said I was sorry she touched him.

He was fuming. I was hugging the side of the air plane wall as much as I could to keep Ava and her arms away from him.

More eye rolls ensued. More dramatic huffing and puffing was displayed. The more he reacted, the more I started to feel insecure about my parenting skills. I could feel my Momma bear instincts rising up wanting to keep my child clear of this person.

He didn't like kids. He wasn't fond of us, he wasn't fond of the family behind us either.

I was thinking of all the things I could have said to this man. How I could have defended myself, or the family behind me. It took everything inside me to keep quiet and not let my anger or hurt take over the thoughts that would come out of my mouth.

Instead I choose to smile. I choose to take care of my daughter in the best possible way I knew how in a small air plane, during a three and a half hour flight. I choose to keep my cool in front of my daughter, and reflect the Love of Christ to this man regardless of his actions to us or other people.

I started rocking Ava back and forth in my seat, while whispering sweet songs into her ear. After a while I felt her body weight fall into my arms as she fell into a slumber. I felt my worries melt away in those moments.

There were so many things I could have snapped back to this man. But, none of them would have mattered.

But, sitting there with my daughter listening to her breathe and holding her was more important than anything else in those moments.

I learned some valuable lessons during that flight about people and myself. I realized, that in most cases you're not going to be able to ever control people's thoughts or opinions about yourself. I learned that I need to be confident in who I am as a parent.

Parenting can be so hard sometimes, and it's not only other parents that are willing to judge your parenting but also complete strangers and you just need to be confident, do your thing and let the rest go and focus on your children.

You won't change them. It's ok if you don't. Focusing on your kids is what is more important and worth your time. I learned that I will never again let someone else make me feel insecure about my parenting or my child.

Ava is amazing. She's happy and healthy. She's a kid, they squirm, they squeal, they yell and throw cheerios on the floor. They smile, laugh and play too.

It's ok.

None of this makes them bad children, or you a bad parent.

So the next time you're in public with your child and worried about what people are thinking, remember that you are great, everything you're feeling and going through is normal. You are an amazing parent, your kids love you and life goes forward.

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