Jan. 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM ET
Never doubt there are angels among us.
They may be hard to see when it seems the entire grocery store is judging you for your child's tantrum, or when you can actually feel everyone on a plane praying that you and your kids don’t sit next to them.
But sometimes when you least expect it, and most need it, a stranger’s act of kindness can make your day. Inspired by a blogger who wrote about an awesome man who sat next to her on a flight with her 3-year-old, dubbed "the 'Daddy' in 16C," we asked TODAY Moms for your stories of strangers who lend a helping hand to parents.
From paying for diapers, to holding someone's baby, to simply stepping in with a kind word, these strangers made a difference. To all the anonymous angels out there: Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Airplane angels are the best:
Anna Urteaga writes: “My first time traveling with my then-7-month-old on an airplane by myself.... There was a young kid, maybe 20, sitting next to us. He was so sweet when the plane landed. He got out and held back the herd of people trying to get off and told them to wait so that I could get my baby out. He also helped carry my bag so that I could get my baby and her car seat. His future wife, or maybe he's married now, is truly a lucky woman."
Andrea Metzler writes: "When my son was 10 months old, I had to take him on a very stressful trip from Chicago to Washington for my grandfather’s funeral. The airlines completely ignored my requests for help (no fun toting around a car seat, luggage and other baby stuff, let alone baby, by yourself). It was the complete strangers who helped me get from gate to distant gate and comfort me on that long dark trip. To them I am forever grateful."
Cecilia M. Gonzales-Pulido writes: "I was flying home with my then 1- & 2-year-old, and on a layover in Arizona I found myself straining to keep my very active boys by my side. I set up camp in a corner and as one would run one way the other would go the other way. ... That's when I met my angel. She came from nowhere and sat next to us. She played with my boys asking how their day was and even let my oldest climb on her! I sat wondering if she would ever know how grateful I was to have her for those long 45 minutes until it was time to board. Writing about a year later still brings tears to my eyes. As we sat she told me that when her 4(!) children were young she experienced the same thing and was helped by an 'angel' too. I'm waiting for my day to pay it forward!"
Cara Konger Guidry writes: "I was flying home with my 10-month-old exhausted from being up with her the night before. She was teething and not cooperative on the flight. Everyone around me was making snide comments about my baby crying, which tensed me up even more. This woman who was next to me offered to hold my daughter. I usually don't allow strangers to do this, but out of hope it could work, I let her try. Within minutes she had my daughter calm and sleeping. I dozed off too and took a nap, which never happens on a plane! It was amazing that this angel took over and we all got much needed rest. Whoever you are out there - thank you!!"
Sometimes angels go above and beyond:
Erika Douglass writes: "A stranger once pushed my stroller, while walking my 3-year-old to the bathroom, while I was holding my 3-week-old who had just had a massive blowout. She stayed in the bathroom with me and handed me wipes and cleaned up after me while I got him clean and changed."
Christine Sunada-Turnidge writes: "My card wouldn't work while I was buying diapers and the man behind me saw I had a screaming newborn and my two other small children in my cart. He swooped in and slid his card through. I bawled with gratitude and hugged him. I've always hoped he would be blessed with kindness in his future for his kind act to me in a time of need."
Little gestures can make a big difference:
Marge Tomas writes: "I was 9 months pregnant trying to fit in all the mommy-kids time I could with my then 3- and 1-year-olds. I took them to a local apple orchard and was snapping a few pictures when a mom walked up took a picture of the three of us and sent it to my phone that night. It may seem small, but moms are never in the pictures, always behind the camera. I will be forever grateful for this picture and someone taking a minute to just make my day."
Beth Kamphaus Knotts writes: "The last time my husband deployed, my infant daughter would sometimes cry at Mass and I would take my other two girls and leave. One Sunday after Mass, another spouse tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'You don't need to leave when she cries, we've all been there and we all understand.' It was unbelievably kind."
Jamie Burns writes: "I was at a local grocery store where you have to bag your own groceries. My son at the time wasn't two months old. While I was trying to bag our food, he busted out in a crying spell and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get him to calm down. Beyond frustrated and emotional. The gentleman behind me without saying a word bagged my groceries. I was so thankful and glad that someone help(ed) besides just looking. I tried to tip him for my gratitude, but he wouldn't take it. He just said it was part of being a good Samaritan. It's nice to know that there are people who are truly just nice and caring."
Simply saying “Can I help?”… helps.
Jessica Marie Dassler writes: "My daughter was a week old and I took my kids to Target. My daughter had an explosive diaper and was screaming. My son was trying to get into everything in the shopping cart and my husband had to run back into the store to buy cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol to clean my daughter's umbilical stump. I was trying to change my daughter's diaper while people looked at me and gave me dirty looks or tried to ignore me. I started crying. No sleep and lots of hormones. A man came up to me, with his two young kids, and asked if he could help. I cannot express how truly grateful I was. People need to remember or try to understand how difficult it can be to have young kids. We need to help each other out."
Megan Boxell Ippoliti writes: "I am almost 9 months pregnant and was struggling to get the grocery cart through the typical Alaska icy/sludge parking lot. With the two youngest kids in the cart and the wheels getting caught with snow, a gentleman saw me struggling. He maneuvered my cart and children to my van and told me to never be afraid to ask for help."
Angels speak a universal language
Laurie Muller writes: "I was at the immigration department for an interview with my now ex-husband. They excused me so I could breastfeed my baby. He was less than a month old and I wasn't comfortable breastfeeding in public. I went to the corner of the waiting room, covered up and tried to feed him. He wiggled out from under the blanket and pulled off my breast. Milk squirted in his face, that makes him cry. And even worse it started squirting on the wall. I was trying to get the situation under control, cover up, get him to stop crying. A lovely older woman came over and scooped up my boy. I was able to collect myself. She sat with me for the rest of the time. She didn't speak much English. I just hugged and kissed her to say good-bye. I was so thankful for her!"
And they're always right on time
Angela Gately writes: "I have a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old. My youngest was born four months early. Until recently she was on oxygen and a feeding pump. (We are finally down to just a feeding pump.) Because she was early we have a lot of doctor visits. And we take her equipment to every appointment. It's a lot to handle. Carrying a baby, O2 tanks, feeding pumps and a toddler in tow. It's exhausting at times.
"I am so fortunate to have so many caring mothers around me. Complete strangers have helped me when they see me struggling with a baby and a toddler having a meltdown.
"There's one woman that really sticks out to me. We had a full day with seeing my daughter's specialists, two-three appointments in a row. My oldest had had enough. She was on the brink of a meltdown. She just needed to walk a few more feet and we would be to the car. In the middle of the parking garage she throws herself on the ground. Her legs become Jello, she's screaming. I'm trying to pick her up and hold on to my little one at the same time. Just at the moment I thought I might lose it, this woman comes running across the parking garage to help. She had three older boys following close behind. It was so sweet of this complete stranger to help me. She obviously had been in my shoes.
"Don't get me wrong. I get my fair share of stares, dirty looks and eye rolls. And while those times do bother me, I try to think of the positive moments in my life. Those people who have helped or encouraged me in a time of need. And I try to offer assistance and encouragement to those around me. I hope my girls see that and grow up to help people around them."