Mom Code: a non-judgmental position that allows us mamas to simply be mamas; the women that come to your side instead of turning up their noses and understand that, of course, kids will have meltdowns and embarrassing displays of public tantrums, but it doesn't mean they are bad kids or you are a bad mama; the code that keeps us in check and makes us feel like we are in this together.
When Clay was 2 and Lilah was a newborn we were outside a store and I was trying to juggle both of them in my arms and the cart full of our purchases tips over into a mud puddle. And it stayed there because I had to get the kids to the car. Here comes a mama to the rescue. She picks up the bags in the puddle, brings the cart to me and helps with my kids despite the two little girls of her own she has with her. I had seen her around before but I did not know her name nor did she know mine. It didn't matter to her... she helped me anyway. Helping other mamas goes a long way. Be helpful.
2. Don't Engage in the Stay-At-Home Mom vs. the Working Mom War
I once had a mama friends ask me if I stayed home with my son. I said yes. She responded, "I could NEVER do that. That sounds awful." Thanks mama friend. I think I will just slink off into the corner now. Here's the deal... there are some mamas that stay at home but would rather be working, some working mamas that would rather stay at home and some that are perfectly content doing what they are doing. You don't know their situation nor should we as mamas turn against each other and wage a war. Being a mama is hard. Let's stay on the same team regardless of our working/non-working status.
When you meet another mama, she will tell you her name. When you hear it, look her in the eyes, shake her hand and repeat her name back to her saying, "It nice to meet you ____." Then silently repeat her name in your head five times while still looking at her. This is called memorization. Do it. When she tells you her kids' names. Look at the child and again, repeat their name in your head 5 times. Why? It is important to feel important and when you see her again... you should know her name. If you forget... that makes you human! Ask someone her name so you can greet her properly.
4. Stop Comparing
This is huge. It is easier said than done and is something we will always do. If you are aware of the comparisons that your mind is naturally making, you can consciously make a choice to let them alter your feelings or to allow them to just be observations. For example, when you start to play the game of, "How much money do they make? How does she have time to do everything? How can they afford all of that?" And the "Look at her new designer bag, her kids are always acting perfectly, they are vacationing again, she is so fit...." you will always come up short. There will always be someone that is smarter, prettier, funnier, richer and kinder than you. Get over it. Look in the mirror and repeat after me, "I have enough, I am enough." It's true.
5. Be Grateful and Show Your Gratitude
Thank you notes are for the birds... actually, no. They go a long way. And when someone does something for you even if it is as simple as letting you call and vent to them... show your gratitude. It doesn't have to be thank you notes, but use your love language and give back to them in some way. I am a gift giver. When someone does something for me, I tend to do cards or tiny little gifts. But, that's just me. Find a way to make those around you feel appreciated and reward even the tiniest of good deed.
6. There Is No Such Thing As a Friend Quota
Don't need to make friends because you already have lots? Bull. You can never have too many friends. Never, ever lose your enthusiasm for meeting new people. Everyone has a story and everyone special gifts. If you disregard that person and decide in your mind that their story isn't worth hearing, you are the one missing out. Everyone has something to offer. Make sure you don't miss it. And with that, why not make it easy for those around you to make friends too? Be the one to introduce yourself and introduce others. I even introduce friends that I know have a lot in common and haven't met yet. And never discount where you are as a place where you can't meet friends. I have good friends I met at Chik-fil-A, the airport, the library and the park. Be open, be friendly, be someone you would want to meet.
7. End the Competition
I once heard a saying: "I am not interested in competing... I hope we all make it." I love that. This takes the ideas of jealousy, personal agendas and the old "building yourself up by cutting someone else down" and throws them all out the window. Instead, we have encouragement, cheerleading and support. Things real friendships are based on. By falling into the competition trap, you are only hurting yourself. Thank God, not everyone wants to play that game. Seek out friends who are not interested in competing.
Does a compliment make you feel better? Me too. That does not mean we should go fishing for them (please don't)! Instead, be the person that hands out compliments. Make sure they are sincere, of course, but you can always find something about everyone to speak highly of. Be conscious of whether or not you are complimenting people and if you aren't. Aim for five compliments a day. When it is in your forefront, it will be easier to remember. It doesn't take much to make someone's day and it will brighten your day too.
9. Know That Your Way Is Not Necessarily the Right Way
When it comes to anything, there is most likely more than one way to go about it. Let's take parenting for example. I agree that you may be the best parents for your children. You may have it all figured out and what you do works great for you. This does not give anyone free reign to start acting like parenting police telling anyone who will listen the right and wrong way to parent. I cannot tell you how many times I overhear mamas saying things like,"Can you believe they co-sleep?" or "He had a pacifier til when?" or "That child is still in diapers?" Let me tell you... there may be more to these family's situation than meets the eye. It is not for you to judge or to give your personal opinion of the right way/wrong way.
10. Be Kind
I know... this is given, right? Well, it needs to be mentioned because it is huge. You teach kids by example. Friendships aren't so different, are they? If someone is unkind to you, be kind anyway. Lead by example, be proud of your standards and let it go. Forgive and forget. Kindness always win, and if it doesn't seem to be winning karma will kick in and they will get theirs.
This is big. This shows your heart. If you see a mama having a hard time, smile at her. Not in a better-you-than-me-smile or a I-feel-so-sorry-for-you-smile but in a we-have-all-been-there-smile and a girlfriend-its-ok-smile. This could mean more than you could ever know, and it is free and easy. Which makes it a no-brainer. Women being nice to women... perfect.
12. Don't Say It
The things you should not say as a mama because you know that parenting is the hardest task in the whole wide world and don't we all deserve some grace? "You have your hands full." Don't all of us mamas have our hands full? Yes! "Are they all yours?" Yes, thank you very much, now get out of my way. "He has so much energy!" Yes, he is a boy. "She is so dramatic." Yes, she is a girl. "I don't see how you do it." Yes, I am pretty sure all mamas have a superpower. "You look so tired." And then you can tell them where to go... Don't be that mama.
13. When You Have a Chance to Serve or Support -- Do It
Be a friend that others can count on. Is your friend having a Buddy Walk and is asking for donations? Give or go or walk. Is your friend having a new baby and needing meals delivered? Bring a meal. Or two. Make it extra yummy. (And put it in disposable serving ware so she doesn't have to return anything to you.) Is a friend hosting a party for a friend who is trying to start a new business? Attend. Be delightful. Did a friend lose a loved one? Send a card. Go to the funereal. Check in with her. Did a friend or her husband lose a job? Contact your contacts and pass along a resume. Make connections for them. When you are the one that needs support, it will come back ten-fold.
14. Be Yourself and Allow Your Friends to Be Themselves
I wear make-up. All the time. Everyday. Because I like the way I look in make-up. You will not find me in sweats or workout pants or pajamas out and about. Not gonna happen. (Although it is very likely to find me in paint-splattered jeans with the knees ripped out on my working days!) I don't like to wear the same outfit combination twice because I like to be creative and challenge myself to think outside the box. But, this is me. My friends embrace that about me (and tease me lightly every now and again for always being "dressed.") It shouldn't matter if your friends are put together, in a "Loutfit" (Lululemon outfit), hair on their head or in perfect beach waves. Doesn't matter. Hearts are what matter. You be you and let them be them.
This is my biggest challenge I always have for myself because I can be a Chatty Cathy (grrrrrrr), but I want to be a listener. When I can hear myself talking alot, I tend to start asking questions so I can start listening. Things I want to say so badly, I say in my head so that way they are still heard! (Ha!) Being a good listener is so important in friendships. When someone is listening to you, it means someone wants to know you, someone wants to hear about you, someone cares. Feeling like someone cares is better than cupcakes.
16. Be an Includer
Have you ever been left out? I remember exactly how I felt the times in my life when I was excluded. Your heart hits your stomach when you realize what is going down and you just slip into the background. And then you start questioning yourself. I wonder what I did wrong? I hate this feeling. I don't ever want to be the cause of this feeling. Include, include, include. And make sure everyone is included. If you unintentionally leave someone out, say you are sorry and make it right.
The thing is, you probably already know to do all of these things, but it is good to be reminded. We are not perfect and we make mistakes all the time. It's ok. Just commit yourself to being on this side of the fence, where gossip is minimal, women are non-threatening, and kindness rules... the grass is definitely greener.
And now... me being a mama... (Photos by Emily Weis Photography)