Let’s kick off spring with the New Mom's Code
The spring is a time of rebirth and reflection. This, combined with Mother’s Day, always has me thinking about being a mom. I was watching TV with my four kids and an ad came on encouraging all of us to stand apart from the pack. My reflection-mode self said to the kids, “That’s a good message! Be memorable and separate yourself.” My son looked at me and said, “It’s not a good message if you’re a water buffalo. If a water buffalo gets separated from his herd, he gets eaten by a lion every time.” I smiled because he is right; water buffaloes are better off staying with their pack. Like most things in life, it’s mainly a matter of perspective and the situation.
- I face many contradictions and ironies as a mom. I consider myself a balanced person, yet my life has no balance whatsoever. I believe in moderation, yet I live my life along the edges.
- I have so many problems, yet I really have none.
- I am a happy person but I get so mad and yell.
- I am incredibly optimistic except when I’m trapped in a worry spiral.
- I believe in the good of people and look for it but find it hard to forgive any person, big or small, who wounds any of my four children (or my husband or Buster and Chewie, our two dogs)
- I am very organized except when I’m forgetting everything. I went to a parent conference a day early, sent snack in to the wrong class party and forgot where a child’s tennis match was – all in one day.
- I can endure incredible amounts of pain yet I bruise easily, like when my child doesn’t want to hug me.
- I feel overwhelming love all around me, drowning in kisses, questions and attention, even as I feel unappreciated.
- I understand all the work my husband does as my partner yet believe to my core I do almost everything.
- I am on top of everything and run the house like a machine. Yet, every time I turn around, a tidal wave is chasing me.
- My husband thinks I have lots of free time yet I have none. I have blank spaces on my calendar but I don’t have one minute to spare. I just can’t explain what I do every day.
- I am overwhelmed by how much I love my children and celebrate their many small wins. I cringe as a mom when my child fails at something, gets excluded from anything or could have done better or tried harder.
- Every day I suffer and I celebrate. It’s exhausting yet exhilarating. This is the essence of being a mom, living in the edges and keeping it all basically on track.
This is why moms need other moms, perhaps just as much as we need Mother’s Day. It’s a complicated world out there and we need to have each other’s backs. Build each other up, not tear each other down. Guys have a bro code with simple rules like, ‘don’t sleep with your best friend’s little sister, ever’, well unless you are going to marry her. This code helps keep the peace and gives a little roadmap of a basic code of conduct with very acceptable and very unacceptable behaviors. We need a mom’s code in our world. We have to shave the edges off some very unacceptable behaviors and appreciate the ‘pay it forward’ sentiment that arises when we stay above board with each other. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to reflect on this.
Here are my five essential mom's code to-do's:
- Dedicate more time to my mom friends. I’ll be open and raw so I will get realness in return. Honesty is a gift. I’m ready to put myself out there flaws and all, and not pretend everything is perfect. These friendships help me feel sane in this sea of insanity as we compare stories of the good, the bad, and the ugly. And when everyone is honest about how it really is, we all feel a little bit better, knowing Facebook fabulous is based on a moment, not anyone’s day to day life.
- Save another mom when she’s drowning and let others help me when my load is heavy and has no end in sight. There will never be a week without a sick child, fighting kids, homework battles, endless laundry, and sports and activities drama. I will save enough of myself to give to my children and my husband and ensure there are moments of joy in every day. For five minutes every day, I will not merely react to everything thrown in my path. I will stop and take one item off my to-do list and then help a mom friend take one off hers.
- Lessen the mama drama. It’s all around us and it’s exhausting. I’m in the car five hours a day, driving kids here, there and everywhere. Don’t cut me off in the pick up line. All kids have their bad moments but don’t talk about or judge my child on that moment. And please stop strategizing how to slow down my eight year-old on the soccer field so you can get ahead. Our children don’t view the team as a battlefield where they are competing against their own teammates, so we should stop too. A strong team with kids who love to play keeps them on the field, not an overzealous parent who is trying to build a star because of his/her own ego.
- Learn to advocate politely for myself and encourage my children to do the same. I won’t swallow injustices until they are like bile pushing up in my throat. Mom tormentors put down your weapons or pay the consequences. Enough with the power plays because I’m afraid my reaction will cause consequences that play out on my child. I’m not out to crush anyone, but want to see a little more fair play, justice and honesty in our interactions with each other.
- Limit my hyper-parenting even as I understand it is a by-product of modern day parenting. I was raised to chase success, compete and achieve. Then I was set loose on parenting. I read all the parenting books and listened to all the experts and felt ‘almost ready’ to design and execute a brilliant child raising plan. Problem is my kids do not want to go along with my elaborate plans so I hover, bribe, interfere and, in the worst scenarios, manipulate. I justify that it’s for the child’s own good, but the bigger issue is everyone is doing it and I just can’t help it. But I’m going to take it down a notch. I’m going to let my child be the hero in his/her own adventure even though I would script it differently; this requires backing off.
We have to break, or at least slow down, the hyper-competitive dynamic that continues to build. My daughters are an inspiration to me and my sons will likely have wives who are educated and achievement oriented. I want my daughters to find a passion, something they are willing to work hard on. And pursue it with a mind numbing energy, even if she pushes it to the side when she becomes a mom. Her path as a mom will not be my path and she will need to celebrate her milestones and face down her challenges.
It starts with me and what I’m willing to do. The day my child was born, I, as a mom, was born. I had to make room for the ‘mom me’ so I pushed some other pieces of me to the back. They are still there but sometimes I forget about them in my quest to be a heroic mom who is on top of the daily grind. I searched for the remnant of my funny, well-read, spontaneous, and fun self. I found her in a darkened corner under a discarded pile of wrapping paper. I’m going to dress her up and take her out this Mother’s Day. I think my kids will love her! I will embrace and love Mother’s Day, because it celebrates the life I would never trade. And then I’ll try to live by the Mom’s Code to make our mom world an even better place.
Eileen Wacker, a Harvard Business School graduate, has lived and worked in seven different countries, including the United States. Wacker is also the multiple award winning author of theFujimini Adventure Series for children and the upcoming book for women, The Mom’s Code.For more information, please visit: www.oncekids.com