Have you ever been out with your kids, only to somehow find yourself in the middle of a tantrum that is quickly (and despite your best efforts) spiraling out of control? The kind that turn heads and cause you to break out into a cold sweat?
If you’re a parent, you’ve undoubtedly answered, “Yes!” to this question, but let me ask you this as well: how much would it have changed your ability to handle what was happening, either emotionally, mentally, or physically, if someone stepped in to help?
That’s exactly what happened to one pregnant mother of a toddler as she attempted to board a plain at Los Angeles International Airport. Her rambunctious little one was pulling out all the stops: kicking, screaming, laying on the floor, and ultimately running away from her. Exhausted and completely defeated, the mother sat down and put her head in her hands. She gave up and cried, right there in the middle of the airport.
Haven’t we all been there? My heart aches thinking of all the things she was feeling in that moment. Frustration at her child, Fear over missing her flight, and embarrassment that this is taking place in front of so many pairs of eyes.
But the loveliest thing happened. In a whoosh that can only be likened to super heroes, six or seven women came to the rescue. Beth Bornstein Dunnington, who was returning home to Hawaii, was one of them. In a heartwarming Facebook post, she shares, “I’m the mother of two kids and my heart went out to her.” And it, apparently, wasn’t just Beth who felt this way, as she had good company all around her in those other women.
” … we knelt down and formed a circle around them,” Dunnington says. “I sang ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spider’ to the little boy … one woman had an orange that she peeled, one woman had a little toy in her bag that she let the toddler play with, another woman gave the mom a bottle of water. Someone else helped the mom get the kid’s sippy cup out of her bag and give it to him.”
Women know just what to do to help a sister in need. Without a word, they were aware that the family’s basic needs needed covering: food, water, and entertainment for the little one.
“It was so gorgeous, there was no discussion and no one knew anyone else,” Dunnington shares, “but we were able to calm them both down, and she got her child on the plane.”
These women, also in the hustle and bustle of a busy international airport and on their own journeys, saw it important enough to offer a helping hand to a mother in distress. While many others may have, and certainly did, turn a blind eye, they did not. They entered into the hard work of cheering up a toddler who was in the red zone: no small feat.
“After they went through the door we all went back to our separate seats and didn’t talk about it… we were strangers, gathering to solve something,” Dunnington writes. “It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world.”
Amen to that, Beth! It’s stories like this that remind us how not alone we really are in this world. Motherhood can sometimes feel like an island, but we really are grouped closely, knit together by the common love of, and duty to, our families.
Wherever you are reading this, I hope you experience the same grace and help that this woman and her child did that day in Los Angeles. I also pray you find encouragement to be that help to someone in their time of need. I know I’ll remember this story the next time I hear the angry cries of a small child at the grocery store, or see a mom nearing the end of her rope. We really do have the ability to change someone’s day, just by extending our hand in a gesture of help.
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.