I was en route to our 5th annual college girls’ trip when I was unexpectedly reminded of how important it is for all of us, as moms, to create a village of support for one another.

I went on the same trip when my first son was 4 months old, and while I loved being with my friends, it was way too soon for me to leave him. Plus, I was not at all prepared for the nightmares of pumping so frequently while traveling.

I agreed to this year’s trip while I was still blissfully on maternity leave, thinking I’d be fine if I went away when Connor was almost 9 months. For the couple months leading up to it, I was worried I made the wrong choice: that it would be deja vu from 3 years prior, that I would be pumping more than I expected to be, that it would feel too soon. Yet, a couple weeks before the trip, I felt ready. While I still missed Connor terribly, I was itching for some me-time and some adult-only time.

So, there I was, in the LaGuardia airport, feeling that all-too-familiar mix of anxiety and excitement that all of us who’ve travelled without our kids know so well. I needed to pump, and figured the restroom was the only option. I found a little side nook where there was a little more privacy, but an airport employee was taking a break there. I checked back about 10 minutes later and she was still there. When I politely asked if I could use the space to pump, she directed me to the Mamava station instead.

When I entered the Mamava pod I teared up immediately with happy tears! Women who had been there before me had stuck notes of encouragement and support around the entire interior of the pod. It was so powerfully emotional and touching seeing their reminders:

“Way to go, Mama!”

“You’re crushing this mom thing!”

“Your hard work isn’t going unnoticed.”

Knowing all those women had been in the same situation, likely experiencing the same fear and guilt about leaving their sons and daughters, made me feel connected to something bigger than myself and reminded me I wasn’t alone. It was so inspiring and encouraging.

In that moment in that big, intimidating, impersonal NYC airport, the Mamava pod and those notes gave me strength that I didn’t even know I needed.

We’re all so busy. It’s so easy to just start and end our days with our heads down, trying to meet the needs of our kids, our spouse and our work. But this experience reminded me how meaningful and uplifting it can be to proactively and perhaps unexpectedly support another mom.

Take time to support one another. Even just a quick “you got this,” in passing can mean so much. It can mean the difference between debilitating mom-guilt, or feeling the comradery of an entire community standing behind you. I know it did for me.

Whitney McLaughlin
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Whitney Church McLaughlin is the proud and tired mama of Logan and Connor. She lives in the suburbs outside New York City with her husband (and the boys' equally-proud father) Ben. Whitney spends her days working in marketing for a kids' snack food brand.