When my first daughter was 9 months old, I had her in a Gymboree class. I took the class with an acquaintance from a neighboring town. My daughter loved it. That is where she learned how to walk, throw, and climb. One of the days, my daughter threw a soft, plush ball in the direction of another kid, which obviously wasn’t intentional at 9 months of age. She was just learning how to manage that throw. The mother took the ball and put it in her face and said, “That’s not nice.” I looked around the room trying to process the situation in front of me, almost looking for someone else to give me the eye. You know, the ‘I’m with you’ kind of eye. Did that just happen? Isn’t there some sort of Mom Code against this? I was a first time mom so I just didn’t know if this is what happened; if moms threw other moms under the bus like that. I wasn’t sure if the high school mentality was coming back with a vengeance, shaking its finger, taunting me. “It’s not oveeeeerrrr!!!!”
And so it was there, my first example of someone breaking the mom code. 6 years and 3 kids later….oh I am seeing and I am learning; what is appropriate and what is not?!
Here are the top 10 Mom Codes to follow.
1. Reciprocate. If another mom picks up your child from school, at some point you should definitely reciprocate with a pick-up or a drop off. Ditto for the playdate. If someone takes your child at their house, have them at your house the next time. We can only do what we can do though, so don’t break your back. We all understand sick kids, new babies, and out of the ordinary situations. But, if all is going fine, make sure you give back. We should all try and make it a little easier on each other.
2. Don’t judge. This is such a hard one because it is so easy to. Just remember when you see a kid having a meltdown; that might be you tomorrow. Or, maybe that was you yesterday. We are all on the same train, heading in the same direction. We all want the conductor to ring the bell in our honor when we are doing well. But remember when we aren’t, the last thing we need is the chuckle, the wide-eyed look, or the under the breath comments.
3. Sick kids should stay home. Maybe you don’t want to miss the party, but if your kid has a fever, stay home. If your kid is puking on Sunday but wakes up feeling like a million bucks on Monday morning, keep them home. You don’t want to spread the virus. It is selfish to bring sick kids around other healthy kids, especially babies. We, of course, don’t want our kids to be sick, but the biggest thing is the fact that it really messes up our sleep and our days if we are up all night with a congested/puking/coughing baby/child.
4. Don’t discipline other people’s kids in front of their parent. (The infamous Gymboree situation) Your kid gets slapped by another kid at the park. You aren’t sure if the parent sees it. They probably did, but they pretend they don’t. They don’t want to deal with it. What do you do? This is a hard one. I always ignore the first time. I tell my child to play somewhere else. If the child follows my child and does it again, I will go up to the mother and tell her. At that point, it is up to her. If she doesn’t discipline her child right there, I don’t think I can judge. Maybe she will at home. Maybe she has a “no discipline” rule. I don’t know. I can only control my child. I would hope they would fix the situation and try and raise a decent human being. But, I am not sure it is my place to teach them that lesson. I’ll just probably blog about it. Ha!
5. Don’t steal babysitters. Friday and Saturday nights are always up for grabs. But, if you know someone has a babysitter every Friday morning. Don’t try to snag that sitter for the same time without asking the person. Sometimes babysitters can be part of the family. And sometimes it takes a while to find someone you trust. It is easy to take a sitter from someone after they spent the time doing the grunt work. Nobody owns anyone else. And of course anyone (babysitters/moms) can go anywhere else. But as a mom, you should ask first. Most moms would say, “Well, I have her on Fridays but if you need her Mondays, go for it.” Right?! Most moms should share if they aren’t in need. Just know that if you are sneaky about it or do it behind another mom’s back; it breaks the mom code.
6. Don’t brag. Ok, we all have super, wonderful amazing kids. We all think they are the BEES KNEES. My kid can read at level Z! “WOW,” we all think sarcastically. Who cares? If someone asks, share. But, if nobody asks, nobody wants to hear. Some kids might excel in sports. Others might be great at art. Some kids might be great dancers or gymnasts, readers or writers. Every kid has strengths and weaknesses. Tell the grandparents. Tell the aunts and uncles. Tell the people who really want to hear. But to other moms, have a glass of wine and talk about something else.
7. The food/drink code. ALWAYS ask parents before offering food to their child. I always ask if there are any allergies or anything they shouldn’t have if I have someone over for a playdate. This hits close to home because my daughter has food allergies and I always pack her snacks. Also, don’t judge anyone else for what they do or don’t feed their child. If someone feeds their kids all organic beets, amazing. If they feed their kids hot dogs and French fries, more power to you. It’s all good. Same goes for breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Who cares what people choose to do? Worry about yourself. See Number 2.
8. Let other moms vent without judgement. I have a few friends who let me VENT for at least an hour each week. The important part about letting other moms vent is that you cannot hold anything against them later on. This is all a part of being a mom. Sometimes it is HARD and the only other person who can understand is another mom with kids the same age. So, let your mom friends have at it. It doesn’t mean you don’t like being a mom. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. Everyone needs an outlet. Be an outlet for someone else without judgement. As a mom, that is the best code you can follow.
9. INCLUDE. Make sure your kids include other kids. Make sure you include other moms. Bring someone else into the conversation at pick up. Invite. Plan. We are all in this together. Being a mom binds us. Maybe we wouldn’t necessarily have been friends in college, but you better believe we have a tie that binds us all now. So, remember that. Be good to your fellow moms.
10. Last but not least, Love yourself. Being a mom means there will be times when you can’t shower or work-out; when you might miss the party. Being a mom means your house will be a mess after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Being a mom means there will be times when you have to put your needs aside for the sake of your children. Being a mom means following a code and that code says that you have to put your children first. You put them in front of everyone and everything else. And never apologize for that! You have to do what is right for your family. If you miss a birthday party, a bridal shower, a vacation, a wedding, and/or you decide that you can’t make something work, it is your RIGHT to make the BEST decision for your family. And, if they don’t understand, then that is their problem. But, as a mom, it is part of our code of honor. Remember that everyone has to do what is best for their family. That is our code. And love yourself along the way. Because we are all doing our best and are all beautiful.
Being a mom entails so much. We all see and interpret the world through our own pair of eyes. But, if we can be kind to each other and remember to respect one another, we will be able to follow the Mom Code and we will all being able to feel united. And when all else fails, choose love.
Noreen Heffernan, Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies.