Last week I had a CT Scan to see about that pesky kidney stone that’s been giving me trouble. When I was walking out of the hospital I saw a woman with three adorable little girls in the parking lot. They were probably all under five years old and one was in a stroller. I could tell there was something going on and as I got closer I could see that one of the older girls was throwing up. I was child free so I just jumped in. The girl was upset about throwing up on the ground so I emptied out a large Ziploc bag from my purse. I pushed the stroller so that the mom could tend to the vomiting child. She said they were just there for blood work so we got the kids all situated in the waiting room. While the mom checked in, I emptied a trashcan for the sick kiddo and used my hair tie to get her long hair out of her face. Once I was sure the family was situated I politely stepped out, not wanted to be in the way or interfere too much.
My co-worker and I talk a lot about the unwritten mom code. You’ll be walking down the aisle in the grocery store and notice a bare foot dangling from a cart seat and see a shoe at the end of the aisle. You’ll see a mom struggling to get one child under control while another wanders a little farther than might make you comfortable. When do you intervene and help? And how do you ask if someone needs help? Maybe you think they need help, but in reality they don’t really want help. Are you insulting them by helping? Are you implying that they couldn’t handle the situation themselves? In this case, I just jumped in and helped because I felt that it was the right thing to do – a child was ill and the mom seemed willing to take my help.
Sometimes it’s not that you want to intervene, but that you just want to give that mom some sign that you know what she’s going through. You know how she feels because you’ve been there too! You want to give her a high five or a wink. High fiving strangers in public because they had a successful parenting moment is kind of weird. A wink would probably work, but I’m not a skilled winker.
Maybe we moms should band together and create a mom code. If I pull on my left ear lobe twice it means: Quick, you take the big one while I get the little one situated in this shopping cart. Or if I give you a thumbs up it means: I might look like I’m struggling, but I won’t let these kids break me, I will get them in this cart. In the meantime, I guess all you can do is ask. Can I help you with that? Would you like some help with that? What’s the worst they can say? No. And who doesn’t love a good compliment or a little empathy? Nice job mama! I’ve been there and you look like you’re doing a great job! When in doubt, a smile will go an awfully long way towards making someone else’s day. I bet we’ve all got a few we can spare to lift another mom up.