Traveling with a baby is hard enough. Air travel with a baby is 10 times harder. And when you’re a nursing or pumping mother? Well, you basically just have to brace yourself and get it over with; it’s not going to be a good day.
More and more airports are featuring lactation pods, and that helps somewhat. It’s a private place to pump or nurse, without having to perch awkwardly in a public restroom, or struggle with a nursing blanket that your kid isn’t used to.
And something beautiful is starting to happen inside these little pods. It began at LaGuardia airport. Moms began leaving notes for the next occupant of the pod. Nothing complicated, just “You got this,” and “You’re a ROCKSTAR, Mama!” After hundreds of moms covered the walls in sticky notes, it became something powerful. And now the phenomenon seems to be spreading, especially as Instagram boosts its visibility.
Whether you’re pumping, nursing, or bottle feeding; whether your babies have grown up or you’re still in the thick of it, these encouraging notes mean something for all of us: we’re not alone.
We mothers often walk around wondering whether the world is judging us, because honestly, sometimes it is. After all, nothing is more high-stakes than motherhood, and everybody has an opinion on how to do it right. It can get lonely, doing the very best you can, knowing the strangers in the pews, or in the supermarket aisles, or at the playground aren’t seeing all the love and sacrifice and effort you put into your family on a daily basis.
We’re used to being silently judged, but do you forget sometimes that you’re also being silently cheered on? You wouldn’t know it, because you can’t always even tell that the woman next to you is a mom, that she’s been there through the struggle. You’d never know that she’s not judging you at all, she’s absolutely rooting for you.
The notes in the airport lactation pods have been one way for moms to tell women they’ve never even met that their struggle is real, their sacrifice is worthwhile, and that their efforts are seen. And I think, whether or not we have the opportunity to leave notes for each other, there’s more of that love going around than we know. So many people do support us, even if we never know it.
Mothers everywhere do understand how hard breastfeeding can be, and they absolutely are cheering you on, even if they never get the chance to say it. They know how hard it is to take an infant to the supermarket, or traveling with an overtired toddler, or keeping everybody’s hat on. We spend so much time worrying about the anonymous judgement of strangers that we forget there’s plenty of invisible support and love from strangers, as well.
So keep your head up, moms. Maybe the woman you passed is judging you, but maybe she actually thinks you’re doing an amazing job in the most important vocation in the world. We owe it to ourselves not to forget that.
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