Everyone gets annoyed by crying kids on planes or in public settings but you know who hates it more? The mothers who are worried about their children and getting judged in the process.
Photographer Muzi Sufi decided to open up about travelling with her children - Lay and Samar - and dealing with the judgmental stares that she has to put up with along the way.
"I’ve seen it with a lot of moms and their kids, sometimes the kids just hate travelling. Maybe it’s the break in routine... but they get sick or cranky or just make the holiday a little bit worse than it could have otherwise been with a well behaved baby/child," she wrote,
"Can I just ask something of everyone though... please don’t underestimate the kindness of giving a struggling mother a sweet smile. The reactions of people around her can make or break her."
"Trust me, no one wants a crying child to shut up more than the mother, but what makes it all the more difficult is the judgmental stares and fidgeting of people around a mom and her crying baby. The minute you see this, or rather feel it, that’s when you get flustered."
She added, "You start losing control not knowing how to calm your child in the quickest possible way, and in turn, you convince yourself you actually in fact cannot do this again and have failed to be a mom who can travel and maintain her sanity. That’s it - all a domino effect because of a judgmental stare or a muttered-under-your-breath-but-loud-enough-to-be-heard comment."
The photographer went on to reveal one of her own experiences of being judged and shamed while struggling herself.
"This first happened to me when Lay was 1 month old and I was flying from Heathrow to Cairo, and I didn’t know how to shut my stroller and place it in the security belt... I could hear the people in the super long security line start to pass remarks about 'isn’t this something one learns when you buy a damn stroller.' I was crying... I was actually so so flustered, but then the kindest guy came running out of line, pushed my stroller shut and said, “oh we’ve had like 3 of these strollers, they’re so complicated to shut, they really need to start making them easier to close :)”. And just like that I snapped out of my 'I-can’t-do-this' mode."
"Sometimes it takes nothing but a few kind words to build back someone’s confidence, so collectively we need to remember to be nice about it, especially when you can see how distraught the mom or parents are."
Muzi had an important note for all those mothers who wish to travel but are worried about doing so with children.
"If travel is your drug and you have kids, you need to eliminate these little fears and tell yourself, it’s a really short life and a beautiful world, so let’s not let the little things get in the way of seeing everything and enjoying what you love."
She also spoke about how it's all fun and games with one child but adding another to the mix is a game-changer.
"Let me be absolutely clear about one thing - travelling with 2 kids (or more) is exhausting. I got hit in the face with this realisation in the gorgeous city of Budapest, where an intense heatwave clashed with my toddlers tantrums. And whereas usually I could cater to or discipline my child how I see fit, I just didn’t have the time because of my 5 month old. Kids are kids, and obviously they’re allowed down days or occasional outbursts, but I feel it’s important to not let this be the norm," she wrote.
She admitted that she doesn't really have a solution and that's perfectly fine.
"Nothing always works but some things work sometimes so it’s worth trying. Please don’t be a mom who doesn’t try to solve the problem when your child is howling. Maybe the only thing worse than being judged for a crying kid is when a mom lets her child cry and punishes the people around her by being indifferent. In these stressful situations it’s imperative to remember it’s not anyone’s fault that your child is losing it, not even yours, but you’re the only one who can at least try to resolve it."
"You have to relearn everything, it’s amazing and exhilarating and so tiring as well. Me and Lay fought a lot on our trip but we also loved a lot too. Basically, there’s no rule book and nothing that works for everyone, you kind of just have to chip at different solutions and see where it takes you."