An open letter to mums: “Dearest Mummy of the Very Loud Children on the Plane…”
Read this open letter to a mum on a plane. We are sure you will empathise if you've ever been in the same situation...
I remember when I first noticed you.
You were attempting to juggle your 2 children with sweet, angelic faces (they looked to be around 2 and 4 years old, am I right?), several large suitcases, an overstuffed diaper bag out of which the ragged end of a much-loved blankie was poking out, as well as many other kid and non-kid related paraphernalia.
You looked anxious even though your kids were quite calm… perhaps you knew it was just the calm before the storm of your plane ride.
It was your turn to check in and I noticed how, with the poise of a prima ballerina, you gracefully grabbed your 2-year-old off the luggage belt while handing over your documents to the check-in counter official.
I wondered for a moment where your partner was. Maybe you were a single mum or on the way to being one, or perhaps you were joining your partner.
Whatever it was, I thought, “You are brave,” as I saw you trying your best to ignore the foot-tapping, blazer-wearing man behind you who was impatient with your supreme patience at dealing with your kids.
The next time I saw you, you were inside the plane and seated.
Behind you were two young women who looked apprehensive every time your toddler peeked over the back of his seat and shyly smiled at them.
I could sense they were already judging you for not ‘controlling’ your 4-year-old, who declared he was hungry the moment he boarded the plane (and I knew that anticipating this, you must have ensured he had a hearty meal before leaving for the airport).
Leading up to take-off, your 2-year-old gradually started getting more and more restless as you tried a million things to soothe him. Favourite toys, colouring pads, milk… even the iPad didn’t work.
He started shouting “Boobies, boobies!”, so you let him nurse, despite the shocked glance of the older woman sitting opposite you.
You really didn’t care about the older lady’s horror anyway, because the breastfeeding was working… right up until the air stewardess came around and loudly asked if the children were strapped in, distracting the little one.
At take-off, your little one started crying inconsolably while I heard you trying to deal with your 4-year-old’s question — “Are we there yet?” — which, as kids his age often do, he asked you at regular intervals of 5 minutes.
People around you looked at you — some with quick sideways glances and others with full-on stares. Some looked annoyed, some looked sympathetic and others even looked really angry.
After all, they had paid good money for their tickets, and there you were, a seemingly inefficient mother unable to control her children.
Perhaps they didn’t know about that typical preschooler trait of asking innumerable questions.
Or maybe they didn’t really understand how much pain the change in air pressure in the cabin at take-off can cause a small child, and that crying is his only way of expressing the pain.
They had obviously forgotten that you, too, had paid the same money for your tickets (and no, you hadn’t paid your kids to cry). They were judging you silently in their minds but openly through their body language.
Your children continued to cry like their world was about to end one second, then laugh loudly and joyously the next.
They continued to ask questions, run up and down the aisle, and refuse to wear their safety belts or sleep — right up until the plane landed.
You might have noticed me looking at you, too, and thought, “Oh, no, there’s another person judging me”, until my smile told you that I was on your side.
I was empathising with and admiring you because I know how hard it is to handle kids on a flight.
I admire your dignity in the face of other people’s silent and not-so-silent judgement. I know your children will learn well from their mummy and be just like you — kind, patient, dignified and full of grace.
I want to tell you how much I admire and respect your patience and love for your children and I know you’ll continue to love them just like that forever.
A Fellow Mum
We hope you enjoyed reading this open letter to a mum on a plane. Have you ever been ‘judged’ by others when on a plane with your kids? Do leave a comment and tell us about your own experiences…