7.21.2006

Angels in the Airport

My experience flying with children thus far in my parental career hasn't been terrible (nothing like anyone's horror stories), but it is extraordinarily stressful to me and I have been most hurt and/or dismayed when people around me and my child (I've only traveled with one kiddo before this last trip) are either oblivious, or worse - flat rude.

(If I can be bitter for a moment, I actually think my previous experience may have to do a little with living in the D.I.N.K. capital of the U.S., where it's really foreign to think about people unrelated to oneself and these travelers can't really fathom why I would be so inconsiderate as to bring children on an airplane, let alone that I really might be doing the best I can...But all I can say is that my baby will probably grow out of his childlike behavior...)

At any rate, I have learned by sad experience to look out for myself, to think of any and every situation that may prompt my children to be an inconvenience to anyone else, and not to count on anyone to cut me any slack, including the "helpful" flight crews. Add that understanding to the fact that I know people can tell by looking at me how much I am sweating, but they just think it's entertainment to watch someone wrestle a pullman, a two-year-old, a tipping stroller and the diaper bag from hell, then top it all off with the serious claustrophobia created just by thinking abour the narrow airplane aisles and perfect strangers with sodas on the tray table that is dangerously close to the infant's "busy" little feet, and you might know how um...uptight...I was feeling about taking two - by myself, I might add - this time. Serious knot-fest in the ol' abdomen. I think my pre-travel posts indicated some level of the anxiety, and I know I frothed plenty about it to real-life friends. And then the travel day came.

Auntie S came to pick me and the boys up to go to the airport. We loaded everything and I was feeling a little frazzled but kinda to the point of, "Well, let's just get it over with." We were about to leave the parking lot, when Auntie S pulled into an empty space and said, "We should say a prayer before we go." And she offered the sweetest prayer for me and the boys. Two things that she asked for really touched my heart: 1) That I would be blessed with peace of mind and be able to stay calm, and 2)That Heavenly Father would send His angels to watch out for all three of us, so that I would have the help I needed with the boys and we would arrive safely and not get lost from one another.

Now, for whatever reason, "angels" are not generally in my prayer vernacular. I believe in them, but I guess I've always kinda had it in my head that they were for people with a lot more spirituality and a lot more important work to do than me. But when she mentioned that in her prayer, I felt a lump in my throat and immediately felt consoled, and trusting that I had some back-up going into this trip.

We arrived at the airport and there was some pause with the skycap and a little confusion with my ID and boarding pass, but I felt calm, and I almost had tears in my eyes when I looked down at my boys, waiting patiently (unheard of!) in the stroller in the hot sun at the curb while they sorted it all out and checked our bags. And I almost cried (happy tears) when I realized how unflustered I felt, even with security check still ahead of us. I felt to just say a silent prayer of thanks, because I already felt that Auntie S's prayer for us had been answered.

Then a lady helped me push my stroller around a bend in the security line. A rushing business man in a suit passed us right after the security check while I was reloading the gear and redressing myself, then he stopped in his tracks and turned back to me, "Can I help with something?" I was mostly put back together, but thanked him so much for stopping. Another lady offered help in the bathroom. Another watched the stroller while I took Cal (and Henry) back to the bathroom right before boarding. The flight attendant came and found me to put the check tag on the stroller. I got past the point of tearing up with gratitude every time someone new seemed to be aware of my situation. And we hadn't even gotten on the first flight yet.

We sat on the plane at the gate for an hour after loading up, then 45 minutes on the runway, and I got a little worried because the flight was an additional 2 hours. I had told Cal we had a short flight and a long flight, and here the short flight was going to be more time on the plane than the long one. They allowed people to deplane at first, but I knew that wasn't an option for us, since my stroller was checked and loaded already. But the boys watched a movie, Cal got interested in watching the workings of the airport outside, and Henry fell asleep shortly after take-off. And then the pilot announced that since we had such a long delay, they were taking a different flight pattern, the cruising altitude would be lower, and we would be touching down in 35 minutes instead of 1 hour and 50 minutes. And sure enough, we did. I didn't ask how that could be, I just know it was another answer to prayer.

We flew first to Newark and had to take a shuttle to the other terminal to catch our connecting flight. The shuttle was two flights of outdoor utility stairs down and the surly gatekeeper told me I would have to take the boys out of the stroller, fold it, and carry it and them down the stairs, there was no elevator. Just as I was trying to envision the logisitics of that one, an elderly man from across the line stepped over to me and said, "Can I carry one of your boys and your bag down for you?" So he took the stroller and the bag down, loaded them into the shuttle for me, and came back up part of the stairs for Henry while I helped Calvin. And, as it so happened, his and his wife's connecting flight was the same as mine, so once we got over to the gate, they offered to watch the carry-ons so that I could take the boys and get something to eat without wrestling all that. I know, I know, don't leave your bags unattended...blah, blah, blah. But I trust angels.

Henry had a minor meltdown on the long flight when he woke up and found that Cal and I were gone to the bathroom while he was sleeping, and a lady from a few rows back unbuckled and came up to ask if she could hold him a bit for me, or sit with Cal or whatever - so willing to help me out. I told her in a little bit of exasperation that all I really needed was for the half-full cup of soda to be taken away so that Henry didn't kick it or throw it and I could fold the tray table out of our way. So she took the trash away for me! Exiting the plane of our last flight, two or three people told me that the boys did so well. (I did detect surprise and relief in their voices, but I felt blessed that they had something nice to say.) Then a lady from Britain in a lovely straw hat smiled at me and patted me on the back and said, "You're being heroic. Absolutely heroic." And I thought, "But I sure am not doing it all by myself." In fact, about fifty times as many people helped me be "heroic" than on all my other flights with child combined...

So that is the last tale that needed to be told from our Western travels. I still feel so thankful as I retell it - thankful for my Aunt, who knew what to pray for, and to be specific, and thankful to Heavenly Father for answering that prayer. And I wonder how many times I have to learn that although my day-to-day may be so miniscule in the grand scheme of things, God loves me so much that the things that are important or worrisome to me are important to Him, and He can even help me get on an airplane with two very young children. All I have to do is trust in that kind of love, and open my mouth and ask.

(Oh, and my other lesson learned is best described by Jen at Amazing Trips - my hat goes off to her, for flying with THREE, and for being other parents' angel when she is Flying Solo.)

13 comments:

jessica said...

Great story! Thank goodness for other peoples' kindness and willingness to be an answer to prayers!

GranolaGirl12 said...

I'm so glad to hear you had lots of help on your travels. I got all teary eyed when the passengers commended you on your heroism. You Henry and Cal, you are a hero. (hey, to us readers, too!) Thanks for the well written story.

MugwumpMom said...

What a great story! You had angels indeed..human ones. Or so we assume! Hmmmm. I'm so glad it worked out for you and yeah, I agree, you are a hero. And kudos to the boys for making it easier for you too.

Morning Glory said...

That's just one of the most beautiful stories I've read. Thank God for such kind people. I've seen so many young parents struggle with the little ones on flights we've been on and I just wish I could wave a magic wand and make all the rude people go away.

s said...

I LOVE angels, at times I think a sign is lingering above my head "handle with care". Sometimes life can feel like you are floating through a difficult time with the greatest of ease. Good time to count your blessings:)

Angela said...

Wow T.

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

The "heroic" comment made me cry too. THANK YOU for capturing this. What a great story. I'd never thought of praying for angelic help either but I'm certainly going to think about it now that I've read this. You're awesome! Thanks!

Your Husband (Traveling Edition) said...

I am so thankful for Antie S's prayer. I was pretty anxious that day too and send a lot of prayers on a 7,000 mile journey to you. It is also a lesson to me to slow down and see who I can help as I buldoze my way through life.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Your angels were probably folks who had been in your shoes many years before. What an awesome story!

Jen3 @ Amazing Triplets said...

Wow - great story!!! As I was reading your post ... I kept thinking "Oh, I hope that she got more help than she knew what to do with!" and I'm so very glad you did.

When we made our first x-country trip, as we were boarding (of course, last ones on the plane) we sat next to a woman who literally rolled her eyes when she first saw us. But ... a few minutes in to the flight, she was smitten with the babies. We had to make a plane change at Dulles - and there was HORRIBLE weather w/ the threat that our connecting flight would be canceled. (GASP! This is why you need lots of extra gear!) The woman who had rolled her eyes at us initially - wound up giving me her telephone number and told me that in the event our flight was canceled to PLEASE call her. She would either pick us up all the diapers we needed & food for the babies - or, we were more than welcome to stay at her house.

Can you imagine?! There is goodness in people - and in giving, we receive. :)

Glad you're home safely!

Amber said...

Angels in flight...I soooo pray I find some when I fly home at Christmastime with my two little ones. And you're right--it's the little day-to-day things that strengthen and confirm testimonies! Well said.

Marilyn said...

What an answer to prayer. So glad the three of you traveled safely. having angels on watch reminded me of an experience I had after several years of turmoil in my life. Mariel and I decided that so called boredom was a blessing. It meant things were running smoothly, no one was ill or had recently died, and our lives were at peace. Since then we have learned to cherish the sameness in days.
M

Jennifer said...

It really is wonderful to see the kindness in people, and we have to learn to say "yes" and take them up on it when we do need the help. I'm glad it all worked out for you.