Two years into this surreal global pandemic…. We’re so deep into a new way of living that it has begun to just feel normal. And returning to our *actual* normal–not wearing masks, gathering in person, hugging one other–feels kind of weird now, doesn’t it?

I wanted to share something I wrote wayyyy back in March of 2020, on the eve of Seattle’s first COVID lockdown. I was on one of the last flights into SeaTac, returning from a trip to LA with my son who was 1.5 at the time. While it seems like both a lifetime and a moment ago, the lessons are still fresh and resonant for me today….

“On the plane we had an entire row just for the two of us. Plenty of room for my curious toddler to explore— tray table latches, arm rests, window shades.

Across the aisle was a kind older woman who Finn quickly began making eyes at; they flirted for the entire flight. When he fussed, she offered him a banana. When she was sleeping he told me to be quiet.

Upon arrival in Seattle, everyone deplaned courteously, leaving plenty of space between one another.

The kind woman allowed us to go first. And as we passed she smiled and said softly, “you are a wonderful mother.”

I thanked her and proceeded to the family restroom nearest our gate. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I changed Finn’s diaper.

Motherhood was not something I planned. After a lifetime of turbulence in my relationship with my own mother, it’s honestly something that has deeply frightened me. But to have a complete stranger, in a fleeting moment, see and acknowledge me for this new person I am, this role I stumbled into by accident and didn’t have time to practice for, moved me to tears. I’m doing the best I can and someone noticed.

In these socially distant days, with human interaction limited to elbow bumps, honoring one another—for whoever we are—can make such an impact.

I plan to pay more attention to people, to notice the things they do that are wonderful, and to say something if given the opportunity. If we can’t touch each other or come close to one another, we can still see each other.

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