Sitting alone with her face in her hands, a pregnant mother sobbed. She felt defeated, exhausted, and hopelessly alone in a crowded international airport.
It was time for her to board the plane with her toddler son. But she couldn’t catch him, and she couldn’t calm him down.
The toddler had zero sense of the urgency of the pending flight as he screamed and ran away from his mother. He ran in between the rows of seated travelers, screaming to get away, refusing to cooperate.
The closer she got, the more he resisted. The boy hurled himself to the floor, kicking and screaming, knowing it was just him against mom, and he was hellbent on winning.
Parenting in public places is so awkward and difficult. Bystanders are all too eager to hurl their judgment that a parent is too lenient, too harsh, or simply doesn’t have the competence to parent.
But on this day, at the very busy Los Angeles International Airport, a beautiful thing happened.
As the isolated, broken mother began to sob, she found what all parents are desperate to have: a village.
One by one, complete strangers, all women, quietly encircled the mother and her hysterical son.
Nobody cast judgment, and instead, they offered a beautiful solidarity and understanding as they calmed the son and encouraged the mom.
One woman gave the weary mom a bottle of water while another rummaged through her purse for a small child’s toy. Another offered the boy a small orange, and yet another sang him a song.
No harsh looks, no annoyed eye rolls or mean social media posts.
Just an understanding, woman to woman, that traveling alone with a toddler straight up sucks sometimes, and motherhood takes a village.
What seemed impossible just moments ago was suddenly not a big deal at all.
Calmed and collected, the mother and her toddler boarded the plane, and the women went back to their separate seats and separate lives.
“After they went through the door we all went back to our separate seats and didn’t talk about it,” wrote Beth Bornstein Dunnington, who witnessed the entire event. “We were strangers, gathering to solve something.”
“It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world,” she said. “I will never forget that moment.”
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