When my daughter was teeny tiny, I remember taking her to meet her dad for lunch. It was pouring and I was soaked. I had one hand on my hood and one hand trying to finagle the car seat out of the back seat while trying to block the water from drenching both of us. A mom walked by and said to me, “I remember those days all too well!” and kept walking.
I do not know what I expected her to do, but that was not it. Sleep deprived, cold, and soaked to the bone, all I wanted to do was burst into tears. That was the day I learned about the mom code.
There is a code that applies to all people with the name mom. Young, old, natural, adopted, step, foster…it doesn’t matter. If you have ever been called mom, you know the code.
When you see another mom struggling in the parking lot, trying to unfold her bulky stroller while a baby wails in her arms, you go over to help. When you see a mom trying to walk her tray of Chick-Fil-A nuggets over to her table with a toddler in tow, you go over and offer assistance. When you hear a baby screaming in a store and see the mom look flustered and maybe even embarrassed, you look at her with compassion and not frustration.
Now that my child is no longer an infant, I have less control over her when we are out. She is often testing the limits and running away or trying to jump in place or generally just being silly. It’s not as easy to walk over to another mom and obey the code when my kid is already half way down the escalator or in the middle of the food court. But I vow that when I can, if I can, I will be the caring and sympathetic mom and not the one too busy to help other moms.
When my daughter was in diapers, I always carried extras. Wipes, too. If I saw a mom in need, I gladly opened by bag for her. The other mom almost always had what she needed but sometimes couldn’t get there in time.
If my daughter is in school and I am running errands alone, I often ask a busy mom if she needs help carrying that extra bag that keeps falling to the ground. I make sure that I hold doors open for the mom who has her hands full. I offer tissues to the mom with the kid with the perpetually running nose. Essentially, I try to help in any situation that I have ever been in that I needed help myself.
I rely on these same moms to help me when I am struggling. Often I turn to friends or family, but sometimes I find myself talking to a complete stranger because she is there, I am there, and our kids are in the same vicinity. There is a bond in our code, and I love it.
I hope that I am not the only one that has experienced the mom code. I also hope more and more moms learn to honor and follow it! That’s the beauty of the unspoken code—you can join or adhere to the code at any time and any place. We have to stick together—for the sake of our kids and ourselves.
This post is part of the Here.Now series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.