When our twin girls were two months old, we traveled overnight from New York City to Cleveland on an Amtrak. We rented a small sleeper cabin — equipped with a sink, table, bunk beds, storage space, and a toilet (which I would not recommend using). Although the cabin was out of our budget, it was worth splurging on for our first time traveling with babies. A few hours into our 13 hour journey, we ventured out of our private quarters to the dining car. To our surprise, the train was filled with empty-nesters traveling across the country — and desperate to hold our babies. They passed our girls around like popcorn while we enjoyed our first stress-free meal in weeks. When we got back to NYC, we started looking for bars and restaurants where grandparents hang out. This past year has been exhausting, but we got through it thanks to the kindness of strangers. (Below, in no particular order, are ten of those special people)
1.) Classy in Coach
Our first flight with the girls. Suzy held Penny from takeoff to landing. We figured if you can get through TSA screening, we can trust you to hold our baby. I probably should’ve checked in at some point, but I didn’t want to give her a chance to relinquish custody.
2.) Bridge Pose
These ladies at Barnes & Noble paused their weekly bridge game to gush over our girls. In the meantime, we sipped frappuccinos while browsing through books we had no intention of purchasing. Seriously, who still buys books at a store?
3.) One Love
Not a word was spoken between us, but it was clear he wanted to hold a baby. Thanks to this hero, Clemmy slept through the entire flight, and I was free to work on my documents.
4.) Alex of Azerbaijan
Alex is the concierge of our building. He came to America from Azerbaijan after winning the Green Card Lottery. He’s smart, personable, handsome — and great with babies. He always greets Penny & Clemmy with the phrase “ti moy sladkiy” (my sweetheart). When I feel overwhelmed, I hand off Penny to Alex in the lobby and make a run for it. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.
5.) Chatty Kathy
I was hoping to get some writing done on this flight, but Kathy wouldn’t stop talking. I figured it was impolite to ignore someone who’s holding your baby.
6.) Soothing Stylists
My male friends mock me for going to salons, but who’s gonna soothe your crying baby at the barbershop? Rosie and Jeremy soothed the girls while Jessie (red) cropped my mop. Lucky for me, Rosie was in between clients, and my friend Jeremy was in between acting gigs.
7.) Party Saver
We couldn’t find a sitter for this holiday party, so we reluctantly took the girls. Clemmy eventually passed out but Penny resisted — she has serious FOMO. This angel of a woman relieved us of our burden, lulled Penny to sleep, and encouraged us to cut loose. I wish I could remember her name, but after following her advice, the rest of the night was a blur.
8.) Empty Nesters
Diane and Lisa were empty nesters on vacation from Maryland. They enjoy traveling but acknowledged they’re really just biding their time till their children produce grandkids. Of course, we were delighted to provide them with a taste of the “grandparent experience.”
9.) It’s All Greek to Me
This sweet lady turned to me and said “No English,” which I interpreted as “Can I hold your baby?”
10.) The Hero Gotham Deserves
Of the roughly 500 subway stations in NYC, very few are wheelchair accessible. Fortunately, what the city lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in superheroes. One afternoon, I was struggling to pull/carry a (baby-filled) doublewide stroller up a flight of steps, when I suddenly felt the lower end lift off the ground. An elderly disabled woman was ambling up the steps with a cane in one hand, while lifting my stroller with the other. I told her I was forever in her debt, but she simply asked that I abstain from photos to maintain her secret identity.
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Honorable Mention: On a flight to Florida, a man in first class offered to hold one of the girls. We politely turned him down and proceeded to our cozy seats in coach. We couldn’t decide which baby deserved the privilege, and we didn’t want either of them to grow accustomed to traveling in comfort.