Jennifer Fulwiler knows a thing or two about traveling with children. The stand-up comic has six of them, after all. And so when Fulwiler made a TikTok video encouraging parents traveling with fussy babies to apologize to their fellow travelers, people took note. Her take, however, may not be what you’re expecting.
“If you are flying with young children this summer and they become noisy, please take a minute to say to the other passengers around you, ‘I am so sorry,’” Fulwiler says before pausing and adding, “‘that this is not something you are used to.’”
“You know in a lot of cultures, the sound of fussing babies is seen as a sign of abundance and God’s blessing,” Fulwiler continues in her TikTok. “Instead, our dumb Post-Modern culture sees babies as a burden. We expect women not to bring their babies into public spaces like restaurants, churches, or planes, or to get them to behave perfectly when they do. This philosophy is not only sad and the sign of a dying culture, but it places insanely unreasonable expectations on moms.”
Fulwiler tells Romper it was her own experiences traveling with children — and the looks some other travelers would shoot her — that inspired her TikTok. “I am an only child and did not grow up around little kids,” the comedian, who is taking her stand-up act on tour later this year, tells Romper. “I used to be one of those people who felt like babies were annoying and kids shouldn’t be brought to public places. Then I had six babies in eight years and my perspective totally changed.”
Having kids of her own and hanging out with other mothers, made Fulwiler uniquely aware of just how unwelcoming some public spaces can be towards women and their young children.
“When I started hanging out with other moms, I saw what a huge difference it made in their lives when people welcomed them and their children into public places,” she says. “Many of them couldn't afford childcare and struggled to do everything on their own, so if they never brought their kids out to restaurants, flights, etc. They'd be stuck at home all the time.”
“A key part of building up other women is supporting them when they have young children,” she continues.
And ultimately, that’s the main message of Fulwiler’s hilarious TikTok on traveling with a fussy baby. While crying or screaming babies is a sound few people enjoy, parents included, Fulwiler maintains mothers need the support of their surrounding community, including that of childless travelers, and shouldn’t be made to feel unwelcome in public spaces simply because their children are acting like, well, children.
“A truly thriving culture would welcome those babies and all the inconveniences that come with them, and see their upbringing as something the entire community should joyfully support,” Fulwiler says in her TikTok. “So if my babies start melting down on this flight, please know that I am way more stressed than you are, and maybe just give me a kind smile that says, ‘Hey girl, you’re doing a great job, your babies are welcome on this flight, and we are all in this together.’”