A Letter to the Man Throwing Me Shade on the JetBlue Flight from PBI to JFK:
Maybe you had a rough day. Perhaps you were fighting with your wife about checking a suitcase. Did your car get a flat tire on the way to the airport? Or is it that you have a sick parent and you are tired from arguing with doctors over his care? Do you have a pounding headache and the sound of a baby's cry is sending needles into your temples?
No matter the reason, I'm choosing to be compassionate instead of extremely angry at you.
However, I can't say that I wasn't saddened by your stares and grunts as I worked to comfort my fussy baby thousands of feet in the air. You clearly saw my husband and I trying every trick -- playing dozens of games of peak-a-boo, mixing up bottles, allowing hair pulling, making funny faces, rocking back and forth, anything that would provide her, and everyone else, relief. She's tired and her ears her hurt. The noises are frightening. She feels trapped.
Those 10 minutes of her crying felt like hours to us. Despite knowing better, I couldn't help but feel like I was a failure as a parent because of your actions. I felt the need to reassure you she's never acted like this on a flight before, which is true. I know that even if she acted like this on every flight that would still not be a reflection on me as a parent.
But, you see, I'm new at this. I'm scared because I have a tiny life in my care. And I know I'm going to make mistakes, big and small. So every disapproving look makes me question my fitness. I know I'll get better and it'll get easier but I'm asking you to choose compassion.
I know I am. I'm choosing to be kind to you, to Maisie, and most importantly, to myself.
A Letter to the 60-Something-Year-Old Woman on the 6 Train Who Insisted I Take Her Seat:
Thank you for choosing compassion. It's so easy to be mean, especially on a packed, sweaty rush-hour 6 train. Some close their eyes, feign sleeping when they see me. Me with a 15-pound baby strapped to me and two heavy bags. Still I'm not the most needy. It pains me when I see pregnant women and the injured ignored.
I'm sure you have your own aches and issues. I'm sure you'd rather not have that man's armpit in your face. But instead you selected to offer me your seat. You flagged me down and asked others to move out of the way so we could sit. It was unneccessary but appreciated. Maisie repaid you with a deep-dimpled smile. I gave a simple, sincere "thank you."
Hours later I'm still reflecting on my gratitude. It was a small acknowledgement that being a mom isn't easy and that I'm doing okay. Your good-heartedness reminds me to be good to myself, and most importantly, to others.
So, I have to ask, how frequently do you fly down to Florida on JetBlue?