Last year, at about 20 weeks pregnant and only a few days away from finding out the sex of my child, I was on a flight home from Denver. During the boarding process, a mom and her family walked on the plane. This woman had three sons, her husband, and either her mother or mother-in-law with her and just looked completely defeated. She was dragging a Britax convertible car seat (those weigh 30lbs!!!) for her 3 year old son, all the while her husband managed the two other boys in the opposite row. Her Mom/MIL got seated randomly somewhat near them but not close enough. She and her son took their seats in front of me.
I think about this woman everyday.
At the time, being pregnant, my stance about children on flights had softened as I knew this was a reality I would be unable to avoid. My whole, “no kids under 5” and “subsidize airfare for grandparents” schtick was long gone; I literally wanted both of these items to be federal law while I was in my late teens / early twenties. I digress, back to this mom, who for the entire three hours of the flight used every trick in her arsenal, food, bribes, electronics, toys, etc., to keep her son engaged and pleasant. Some worked better than others.
When we reached our destination, her toddler had an epic meltdown. Just screamed at the top of his lungs with no end in sight.
As we were leaving the plane, and her son was still screaming, the young man next to me gave this woman a look and mumbled something under his breath. Instead of offering her a supportive smile, words of encouragement, anything, I said, “that’s why I hope I don’t have a son”.
I have not yet been able to forgive myself. As a new mom, I get it now, and yes I have a son. I spend most of my day covered in puke, I have to think back 3+ days to determine when the last time I showered was, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t completely overwhelmed and exhausted, and I was vicious to this woman. This woman was killing it, and I took a situation out of her control, made it about myself, and tore her down in the process. To this woman, I want to sincerely apologize. I get it. I now understand that everyday is a struggle and you needed to catch a break. I get that you were embarrassed and helpless and I cannot begin to put into words how I failed you.
The silver lining: I have learned from this. I am humbled by the experience of becoming a mom, and while I cannot take back those awful words in that moment, I will never again cut down any mom just trying to get through the day.