A Letter to the Mom of 2 in the Row Behind Me On the Flight to Orlando

I was traveling for business. On a flight to Orlando. Surrounded by children on their way to the vacation of their dreams. Sitting in the middle seat.


That right there should tell you everything you need to know about my mindset. Then I heard you, in the row right behind me, ask your children if they needed more Dramamine. “Oh, for Pete’s sake,” I thought to myself. “Wouldn’t THAT just make this flight more enjoyable! A little puke on a Monday afternoon.”


I tried to tune your family (and every other family) out as I thought about the client waiting for me in Orlando. I wrapped my scarf around my shoulders and tried to relax.


But listening to you talk to your children, I was instantly snapped out of my bubble. I heard what you said to them, how you addressed them, and I need to tell you something:


You are an amazing mother.


You entertained their questions. All the questions. And we know kids have a lot. You kept the flow of conversation going and never seemed to get exhausted or annoyed. You engaged them back and forth, asking them to think deeper about questions like whether or not airplanes can go to the moon. You answered honestly when they didn’t know, and told them how to look things up. You even answered questions they didn’t ask, like when you reminded them: “Pack up your iPads right now, while we’re landing. Double check, because if you leave them here, we aren’t likely to get them back.” Your son expressed surprise that he wouldn’t get his iPad back if he lost it. Sometimes the things we think are obvious need more context for kids, and you knew that.


But you didn’t coddle them. You gave them options that set them up for success, but then let them choose, like when you told your youngest “Yes, you CAN carry Froggy if you want, but if you do that you’ll have to put him on the floor of the bathroom. Do you really want to do that?”


You are raising strong, resilient kids who will know they can rely on their mother, but won’t always need to. But I’m not writing this to praise you for raising great kids.


I’m just writing to tell you good job.


We live in a world of judgement – we judge people we know and people we don’t. We judge ourselves worst of all. Maybe this letter will make its way to you in a moment when you feel like a bad mom. Maybe you’ll be in need of an independent bathroom visit on a 20-questions kind of day. Maybe you’ll have just gotten the lice notice sent home. Maybe you’ll have just snapped and you’re judging yourself hard core.


But you can do this. You are a great mom. And I just thought you should know.


Courtney Clark, Seat 8B