Going anywhere with a toddler can be a feat, but traveling long distances with a little one is nothing short of a serious undertaking. One young mom learned just how hard it can be when she tried to fly with her small child, alone, while pregnant. As many parents can imagine, it didn’t go particularly well — that is, until a group of total strangers stepped in to help.

Beth Dunnington is a mom from Hawaii who happened to be in the same area as this exasperated parent as she waited for her flight to Portland from Los Angeles. Their gates shared the same boarding area, and let’s just say, the pregnant mom and her toddler didn’t blend in. “A toddler who looked to be eighteen or so months old was having a total meltdown, running between the seats, kicking and screaming, then lying on the ground, [and] refusing to board the plane,” Dunnington wrote on Facebook.

By this point, Dunnington explained that the young mom “who was clearly pregnant” became completely overwhelmed and just didn’t know what to do. “She couldn’t pick him up because he was so upset, he kept running away from her, then lying down on the ground, kicking and screaming again,” she wrote. “The mother finally sat down on the floor and put her head in her hands, with her kid next to her still having a meltdown, and started crying.”

As both mother and child were sobbing on the terminal floor, things turned from ugly to incredible. “… (I’m crying just writing this) … the women in the terminal, there must have been six or seven of us, not women who knew each other, approached and surrounded her and the little boy and we knelt down and formed a circle around them,” she wrote.

These complete strangers independently knew what this mom needed and banded together to form an emergency mom tribe. Dunnington sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to the little boy while another woman peeled an orange for him that she had, and another took a small toy out of her bag. One woman gave the mom a bottle of water and another helped the mom get the boy’s sippy cup out of her bag to give to the child.

“It was so gorgeous, there was no discussion and no one knew anyone else, but we were able to calm them both down, and she got her child on the plane,” she wrote. “Only women approached.”

After the pair successfully boarded their flight thanks to the kindness of these strangers, the ladies each went back to their seats in the terminal without saying a word about it. “We were strangers, gathering to solve something. It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world,” she wrote. “I will never forget that moment.”

– Lauren Levy