I am beginning to think I could write an entire chapter on air travel if not an entire book. Last week, I took a late flight to Nashville to see my daughter. It was a very full flight and even though I checked in the first moment I was allowed, I still had a terrible boarding position. I knew that the middle seat was going to be my only option so I was prepared.
As I strolled down the narrow corridor of seats I saw plenty of open middles, but no place for my carry on. I continued toward the back of the plane and I came upon a young man, roughly late 20s who was sitting on the aisle. Aha! I could have a window seat. How fortuitous. I gave him the universal gesture for, “is that seat open, can I sit there, thanks.” After he graciously agreed to let me into the window seat, he held up his 12- week-old baby. This explained the empty row. Nobody willingly wants to sit in the same row with a baby. I know because I have been that parent too many times to count. I smiled at the sweet baby and took my seat by the window. As I made nice with the baby daddy I wondered if perhaps we would be so fortunate to have an empty seat between us at least. At that moment, the flight attendant announced that we did indeed have a full flight and that every seat would be filled.
Baby Theo and I made a pact that he would suck that unfortunate choice of a “shop ’til you drop” pacifier that he inherited from his 2-year-old sister for the duration of the flight and I would speak in hushed tones, if at all. As the passengers continued to board the plane another young 20-something sat between us. He was very happy to be sharing a row with Theo and his daddy as he had an 8-week old son and couldn’t wait to get home. This is the part on every plane trip where you have to make a conscious decision as to whether you are going to engage with these people or get your headphones out. As you know, I have mistakenly left my headphones
in my bag before…
The plane took off over an hour late and it looked as if we would be getting into Nashville around 1 am unless we made up some serious time. Nobody was pleased about the delay, my seat companions seemed to be taking it in stride. I sat back and chose to engage if only to listen to these two young men talk about their babies.
They discussed the basics of names, ages, their wives, why they were traveling, etc and then the real conversation began. They included me in the discussion, but honestly I was so grateful to be witness to this display of joy that I could have listened for hours and not said a single word.
I am a mom. I am used to women and babies and kids and adult children and all the conversations that go hand in hand with this demographic. I am not used to sitting with young dads who aren’t afraid to share their feelings and ask questions. When one asked the other, “are you getting any sleep?” I smiled. I listened as they described their long nights of sleep deprivation, how they were navigating the whole process with their wives and managing a two-year-old at the same time. I remember those days vividly.
They shared birthing stories with a beaming pride for their wives. It was so interesting to be on this side of the conversation and I couldn’t help but smile. It’s like they were just discovering these strong women and their own lives through a completely different lens and it was refreshing to hear.
Just when I thought I couldn’t bear witness to anything sweeter the younger one said, “dude, have you ever felt so much joy in your entire life?” I nearly fell on the floor in a puddle. I can’t explain how moved I was by this exchange. Perhaps it’s where I am in my life. Maybe it’s because I realized I was old enough to be either one of their mothers, but their sincerity and love for their families filled me with a sense of hope and a little pride for whomever their mothers were. I was so very grateful to be a part of that moment and it’s not one I will soon forget.
If you are willing to open yourself up and look for the overwhelming abundance of joy I believe you will find it; and in the most unlikely places.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G