Over a year ago, a photo of Molly Lensing, went viral. The shot, taken without her permission by a stranger, shows the mom of three and part-time pediatric nurse from Illinois in an airport, staring at her cellphone while her then 2-month-old daughter Anastasia lies on a blanket next to her mom's feet. The photo soon racked up over 65,000 shares, posted alongside a caption that read: “Albert Einstein said, 'I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity . . . the world will be populated by a generation of idiots.'” The post also received tremendous backlash from commenters, like one who wrote, “Someone should have reported this picture and taken it to social services" and another who said, "I hope someone turned her in for child abuse.”
Now, Lensing is speaking out about the photo's backstory. "We had the unfortunate luck of being stuck in the middle of the Delta computer shut-down," Lensing told TODAY Parents. According to the site, Lensing's flights were delayed and re-booked so many times that she spent more than 20 hours sitting in airports with her baby girl.
"Anastasia had been held or in her carrier for many hours. My arms were tired. She needed to stretch," Lensing explained. "And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were."
A few months after the travel nightmare, Lensing caught wind of the photo going viral -- and, once she had been identified, began to receive nasty messages. "I absolutely feel as though my privacy was violated," she told TODAY. "I had recently started working on a labor floor, and I was terrified of my co-workers or boss seeing the photo and comments and believing that I should no longer work with infants. Thankfully, this never happened."
In the time since the photo hit the internet, Lensing has also been defended by other moms, namely Mary Katherine Backstrom, who blogs at Mom Babble. Backstrom shared Lensing's image in her Mom Babble Facebook page back on September 18, standing up for her and other moms who've found themselves in a similar spot. "No. Just no," Backstrom wrote. "We do not snap photos of exhausted mothers in the airport and shame them publicly. This is gross and needs to stop. I've been this woman. My flight delayed, running on zero sleep, fearful that my baby might slip straight from my arms and onto the floor if I nodded off ... I wish she knew that there are mamas who understand exhaustion and imperfection and don't choose to pounce someone in their weakest moment."
Surely, other moms coming out swinging for her is heartening, but of course, the cruel response haunts Lensing from time to time. But when that happens, Lensing says, "I ignore the photos and the comments and lean on those close to me who know the real me. I am powerless compared to the internet, and I know that I am the best momma to my girls and I know that I cherish them and am raising them the best I can." Cheers to that!