flying solo (with a baby)

Nothing makes you stop believing in the good in people quite like flying with an infant. I have never experienced such blatant disregard in my life. It starts before I even board – while waiting, the other people around sneak looks at us, then look away as to not make eye contact. They are thinking to themselves, “oh God, don’t let me be seated next to them.” They watch nervously for which group number I board with, then sigh with relief if it is not the same as theirs.

As I am shuffling down the tiny little aisle in the plane, people quickly look at me, then away. I am carrying a 20-pound infant, his diaper bag, and my purse. I feel like a pack mule. My back is killing me from a half day of this. I find my seat. The people in my row look horrified when I stop. They pull out their earphones hoping I’m only asking how many more rows until 21, but I’m actually telling them I’m the window seat.

I heard audible groans. These people aren’t even trying to hide their disgust. Holden and I are like lepers. No one wants to be anywhere near us. They should ostracize us to a bubble in the back. Holden starts crying as the stewardess is demonstrating how to buckle a seat belt. I try to silence him – I jiggle him, let him look out the window, coo to him, try feeding him some old formula, force a pacifier into his mouth. Nothing works. He is tired and just wants to sleep, but these aren’t ideal conditions for sleeping.

The man on the aisle says to the man in the center seat, “is it going to be three hours of this?”
“God, I hope not!” center seat shoots back.
I am sitting two inches away. I can hear their conversation. They talk about me and my baby as if we are too stupid to understand them. They must think I am just some frazzled mom, not a person with ears and feelings. They must think I’m not trying to soothe this baby and that I am here merely for their discomfort. Assholes.

I get Holden to sleep before the airplane even takes off. I think of this as a major feat. I expect pats on the back and congratulations from the people around me that didn’t even have to hear him scream in discomfort when his ears popped.  Nothing. All I get is another sigh from aisle seat when I ask him to hit the call button. He won’t even look at me when I ask him. He doesn’t want leprosy. I want to tell him he was once a baby too, and that someone took care of him then so he could grow up to be this giant douchebag. Kudos to his mother, wherever she is.

People are always saying they hate kids. How can you hate a little person that hasn’t grown up enough to be mean and jaded? How can you hate someone for being young and needing help? How can you hate the very type of person you were once? People who hate kids are the worst. People who expect to be on an airplane without babies are unrealistic. Mothers with babies on airplanes by themselves are saints. If you see one, don’t be angry at her for reproducing. Just give her a fucking break. God knows she needs one.

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