Why We Need More Hallway Moms

My friend Karen is a hallway mom.
06/21/2017 09:46 am ET Updated Jun 21, 2017

What we need now in the world of parenting is more than love. We need encouragement. Something to keep us going every day in the midst of all the pain and suffering and challenges that living with our children in today’s society can bring.

We need more hallway moms.

My friend Karen is a hallway mom. Every single time I see her (often in a hallway somewhere), she radiates encouragement with a smile and simple hello. I usually get a hug too, which is like the cherry on top. And it doesn’t matter what kind of day I’ve had—good, bad, or absolutely horrible—she makes it better. Much better, in fact.

There’s a reason for this. Think about it. A smiling hello is an incredibly powerful thing. According to Psychology Today, research shows that seeing a smiling face can actually evoke a physiological response that makes us feel rewarded. Research also suggests that receiving a smile from someone has tremendous health benefits—and might even be psychologically equivalent to receiving a large sum of money.

The takeaway is clear. I want to be a hallway mom like Karen. I want to infect other moms around me with happiness. I want to reward them for persevering in this journey called motherhood. I want to help reduce their stress, lift their spirits, diminish their depressive thoughts… and research shows that my smiling face could, in fact, do all of these things.

Friends, I implore you. Be a hallway mom.

Because we’ve all felt what it’s like to be snubbed by a non-hallway mom—the one who pretends she doesn’t know you in public, the one who walks right past you without a word, the one that looks away with a snide face, the one who doesn’t acknowledge your existence even though you have children in the same class together. This can be an unintentionally damaging type of behavior, and I’ve often wondered about the reasons for it. It could be caused by a number of things. But honestly, it’s baffling. Given the chance to help someone, you’d jump right in, wouldn’t you?

That’s what hallway moms do. They help. They encourage. They seize the very simple opportunity to flip another mom’s emotional light switch to “on.” Just by smiling and saying a quick and easy hello.

So when I see you in the hallway, be prepared. I’m going to smile at you and say hi. I might even give you a hug and ask how you are. And even if you have to lie when you say that you are fine, I hope my behavior will have made you feel a little better than you did before you saw me. I hope that my smile will invigorate you and give you a fresh take on your day. And I hope you will pass it on.

In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

Let’s give, friends. Let’s be hallway moms. Because encouragement is a parental necessity. Just like plants need water and babies need to be cuddled, fellow moms need to smiled at and spoken to when you pass them in the hallway.

You never know—this tiny form of acknowledgment might just impact someone in a really big way.

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