No one likes to listen to a child screaming on an airplane. Many people start to grumble and shoot nasty looks at their parents.
But what a lot of people don’t realize is those parents are just as – if not more – miserable than you! Sometimes it’s all they can do to not burst into tears themselves.
Molly Schultz was having a rough day. She was flying back to Detroit to say goodbye to her dying father.
What no one else on the plane knew was that she’d had to leave her two older daughters – aged 3 and 2 – behind and could only bring her 7-month-old twin girls because they were still nursing.
“I was leaving behind half of my family to say goodbye to another,” Molly said.
It had already been a long day and the twins were starting to get tired and fussy. About midway through the flight, they became inconsolable.
“We had already flown from Washington state to Minneapolis and spent a ridiculous amount of time in a layover,” Molly said. “We were all so very done with this entire trip. The strict schedule we typically follow at home was completely thrown out the window this day and my twins were not handling it well. Why would they though? They were only 7 months old. They were feeding off my frantic energy and everything just exploded half way through this flight.”
Molly said she could feel the entire plane rolling their eyes at her as she tried to stop the screaming, but despite her best efforts, the babies continued to cry.
“Everyone had every right to be annoyed,” Molly said. “None of you knew that one of my twins cried all day long, every day. She was just one of those babies who was never comfortable or happy. I was accustomed to drowning out the sound of her screams and know I did so while we were all trapped in that airplane.”
Pretty soon, Molly was at the edge of a breakdown herself.
“In all honesty, I just wanted to stand in the aisle and yell, ‘If you’re sick of hearing this crying, then please come and help me!’” she said. “I knew the major reason [the twins] were losing their minds was because they both wanted to nurse, but I wasn’t sure how to do that in the middle of a plane with no pillows to help support them. I wasn’t even in the right state of mind to try to figure those technicalities out, which is why I packed bottles for them as I anticipated that happening.”
But as the tears began to roll down Molly’s cheeks, another woman on the plane – a perfect stranger – came over and did something that left her stunned.
“You sat right next to me in that empty seat and you grabbed the daughter I was bouncing in my lap,” Molly recalled in an open letter to the woman. “I handed you a pre-made bottle of milk and you cradled my daughter in your arms as you sang a lullaby to her, looking her in the eyes.
“I was almost embarrassed of my inability to do the same for my own children, but I was so thankful for your grace in that moment. You never once made me feel inadequate. Instead you showed me the most empathy I’ve ever been shown, and it was miraculously done in my darkest hour.
“You swayed and sang to her like any of her family would do back home, loving her the way she needed in that moment. Loving all of us in the way we needed in that moment.”
Molly says she can’t even remember what she and the other woman talked about, but she will never forget the way this “angel” made her feel.
“It’s funny how words can be forgotten, but the way someone makes you feel will always be the way you remember them,” she said. “Maybe an angel whispered to you loud enough that you knew you needed to answer. Maybe your mom instinct kicked into high gear when you realized that both of the babies screaming…belonged to me. Maybe you could see me struggling and decided somebody needed to step up. Maybe you just put yourself in my shoes and did what you would hope someone would do for you. Or maybe you are just a very kind person who helps wherever she sees fit.”
Sometimes it’s the simplest act of kindness that can make a world of difference. Sometimes all it takes is stepping into another person’s shoes and realizing what they must be going through so you can show them the same kind of empathy and love we all wish to be shown.
While Molly doesn’t remember this woman’s name, she will always remember her kindness in the midst of one of the worst days of her life.
“You saved my sanity and probably everyone else’s on that flight,” Molly said. “It was easy for everyone else to just sit back and make assumptions about my parenting ability. Instead, you saw a mom in need and you jumped in without skipping a beat.
“Flying with kids is one of the most terrifying things in my opinion and it’s nice to know that some people understand the pressure to be perfect isn’t always attainable,” she continued. “Sometimes I really wish people tried harder to help out or at least give a genuine smile at a struggling mom.
“I couldn’t walk around with a sign that said, ‘Flying alone with twins to say goodbye to my dying father while also leaving behind my other two daughters.’ If I could go back and do it over though, maybe I would make myself that sign. Grief isn’t something you can visibly see with the naked eye, but maybe if they could see the words, people would have been more understanding or empathetic.
“Thank you. Thank you for treating me with dignity and love when I desperately needed it. I hope this letter gets to you and I hope you remember us from our picture from that flight. I hope you know you saved a mom from a severe mental breakdown at 35,000 feet in the air.”
Do you wish more people would show this kind of kindness and compassion to their fellow man? Then share it!