Where Credit is Due

When I first started to notice children in my early 30s I was traveling a lot and had the occasion to observe them on airplanes.  On one flight, a mother was sitting with her little boy on her lap one row up and across the aisle from me.  Biological clock ticking away, I put aside my stack of celeb rags and surveyed their interaction.

Where Credit is Due

The child was relentless in his efforts to torture his mother behave like a normal toddler while trapped on a lap in an airplane.  The mother was equally relentless in her efforts to engage and distract her child.  I marveled at her patience and the tenderness she showed the boy as well as the level of energy expended.  It worked, as for the most part the child was content.  The child was busy.

After landing, I helped the woman with her bag and told her how impressed I was by her mothering and that it made an impact upon me, which it did.  One of the reasons why I never wanted to have kids was having to fly with them.  Reason #301.  Like Kaher, whom I also met on an airplane, this mother opened a door for me.  Such a small thing yet I filed it away for years thinking “Maybe.  Maybe one day.”  The woman registered my sincerity and with a drop of her shoulders and brief bow of her head, she looked up at me and thanked me with tears in her red-rimmed eyes.  Clearly exhausted and with who knows how many more travel hours ahead of her, she needed to hear it.  She needed someone to recognize her hard work.  She needed a pat on the back.  Back then I only thought of myself and the gift she gave me, but now I get it:  mothers need credit where credit is due.  It never occurred to me to compliment her child.  To say “Oh!  He was so good on the plane!”  She did the work, she put in the time, she mothered like a champion.  She needed to hear it and I’m happy I was the one who said it (karma and all).

One morning when Farrah was about a month old and my in-laws were visiting, I finally got Arlo to put away his toys and finally gave Farrah what she needed and with that moment of peace I laid my head on the dining room table and sighed.  My father-in-law, sitting next to me, said in the most matter-of-fact manner, “You’re doing fine.”  I dropped my shoulders and thanked him with tears in my red-rimmed eyes.  I needed to hear it.

Happy Mother’s Day to you in it and to you working towards it.  I give you all the credit in the world.

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