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The Mom Code

My husband and I shared a rare moment out today.  He happened to have the day off on the very day that our babysitter comes for a few hours.  I usually spend that time writing, frantically running errands (while calling all of my friends along my travels), and maybe fitting in some “me” time in the form of a pit stop at my favorite nail salon.

Today was different.  Today we took an extended coffee break together before running a few last minute holiday errands.

As we sat at an outside table enjoying the California sun, a familiar scene unfolded right before our eyes.  A mom of twin girls (who looked to be about four years old) pulled her car right up to the door of the Coffee Bean.  She jumped out of the car, locked the doors, and sprinted in and out of the Coffee Bean at lightning speed.  We had seen her leave with the two girls and three drinks just moments before.

As she ran back into the car our eyes met and she smiled and said, “at least I locked the doors, right?”  I laughed as my husband responded, “we have two at home, we’ve been there before”.  She smiled, looked relieved, and handed each daughter a straw as she got back into her car.

We chuckled as we recalled all of the times we’ve strapped the kids into the car only to find that our son has misplaced his precious “Giraffie” once again.  Often, I pull the car into the garage and run into the house to procure a missing item just so that I can leave them in their seats and avoid the unstrapping and re-strapping again.  Yes, we know about multiple kids and car seats, not to mention a complete lack of time on any given day.

That shared moment got me thinking about the silent mom code that exists out there.  While much has been made about the competition between moms right now (and for good reason), there is also the kinship that exists between moms.  The silent code that manifests as a smile during a public tantrum or a wink when a mom is caught “cleaning” the dropped pacifier by sticking it in her own mouth.

Yes, we’ve all been there at some point.

We’ve all endured the seemingly never-ending tantrum in the middle of the grocery store when the toddler can’t have the one item that he so desires.  We’ve all endured the stares from onlookers and unsolicited advice from older people who seem to have it all figured out.  We’ve all wished it to end quickly, praying to anyone who might possibly be able to help.  And when, in that raging sea of tantrums and judgment, we finally catch a glimpse of understanding from another mom passing by, we feel understood for a moment.  In that moment we realize that we are not alone.

Although parenting can sometimes feel like a lonely journey, particularly on one of “those” days, the truth is that we all have each other.

Sometimes it comes in the form of another mom helping you pick up the goldfish that were just thrown all over the bookstore.  Sometimes it’s the understanding glance from another mom in that very moment that you realize that this outing needs to end right now (before it gets worse).  Sometimes it’s another parent who pitches in when your child unexpectedly vomits all over the produce aisle.

The mom code can be implemented at a moment’s notice, almost anywhere.  With a single look, just a silent plea for help, a mom can find support from another mom within seconds.

No, we are not alone in this parenting journey.  In fact, we are everywhere.

This competition thing that continues to make the news?  That’s not helping anyone.

But the mom code can make a difference.

Banding together and supporting one another when the going gets tough might just be the difference between stressed out moms and moms who feel like they can handle whatever comes their way.

It’s time to stand up for one another.  It’s time to pick up that pacifier for your fellow mom and remind her that the thirty-second rule does apply.  It’s time to share words of understanding when a tantrum erupts in the mall.  And it’s time to offer to help when a child vomits unexpectedly at the airport.

Moms divided leads to anxiety, anger, and resentment.  But moms united can make this journey much more enjoyable for all involved.

It’s time to enact the mom code.

Are you in?

Katie is a Child & Adolescent Psychotherapist/Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA.  She has a five year old daughter, three year old son, and a rock and roll husband who makes her life complete. Katie has a parenting advice blog, Practical Parenting, and can also be found on Twitter.


Thursday 12th of January 2012

I had an elderly woman reprimand me "That's how kids get abducted" when my son took off on me at the mall. She didn't offer to watch my buggy and purse as I chased him -- just judged me. And I've had dirty looks when I had a bracelet style "leash" on my son to keep him from running away. You can't please everyone!

Thankfully I've had a bit of the other side -- but with dads who have given compassionate looks or made understanding comments. It's nice to get a smile and hear "I've been there before" when your kid is having a meltdown.

Lisa B

Wednesday 4th of January 2012

I'm definately in. I don't understand the "mommy wars". Shouldn't we just all accept that we've all been there & we all do things a little different. Helping each other with even just a wink & a nod, hey, I'm all for it!

Elizabeth Flora Ross

Wednesday 4th of January 2012

Oh I am so in! How did I miss this post earlier? LOVE IT!

Mommy Moment

Wednesday 4th of January 2012

So glad you are in too!!!

Jenn @therebelchick

Saturday 24th of December 2011

We have ALL been there. LOL


Saturday 24th of December 2011

Wow, what a great post! I've experienced both the 'guilt trip' look from strangers when your baby is crying in public and the Mom's that come over and try to cheer up my little ones. Thanks to all the Mom's that have tried to help! I'm in!