Momhood

Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Mom Code

I guess it's time that I spell this out because there are some of you who don't know how it works. Perhaps you've been in a cave or homeschooling your brood in some compound in the middle of nowhere. Whatever the reason, there are moms (and dads) out there that need a refresher course.

The Mom Code, or the Dad Code or Parent Code, is the unspoken agreement which governs inter-parental etiquette. For instance, if I ask you about your kid, the Mom Code dictates that after you brag for 10 minutes about your baby genius, you will then ask me about my kid. I am then allowed an equal amount of time to bore you with the exploits of said offspring. According to the Mom Code, if I have multiple children, I should pick one about which to brag or lump them all into a group called "The Kids" or something generic. The idea here is that we share parenting tales equally. The exception to this rule is if one of my children is particularly awful and I am describing an embarassing or self-depracating situation. I am then allowed slightly more time.

The Mom Code says that you should at least try to remember my kid's name. It understands that mental lapses happen all the time, but if you forget, just ask about "your daughter" and pay attention when the name is given. If our kids have gone to school together for five or more years, don't ignore me at social events. Pretending you don't know me is not very nice.

The Mom Code dictates that whenever and wherever possible, I will give rides or offer play dates to your child and you will do the same. It will never be perfectly equal, but you have to try. I'm happy to help out in a pinch but if I am always the one you call to give your kid a ride home after practice, it would be appreciated if you would do the honors once in a while.

The Mom Code says that it's your responsibility to ask your kid about their day, their weekend, their week. Since children cannot always be relied upon to give us information, this is how you find out that for the third time a row, the English Group Project met at Billy's house and it's time for you to step forward and insist that they meet at yours next time. No, sorry, you don't get a pass if you work full-time. That is what weekends are for and yes, it sucks.

The Mom Code insists that you never yell at other parents, teachers or coaches without having a damn good reason, which should not be based on information supplied only by your child. If you haven't figured this out yet, children view the world with blinders on. They do not fact check and tend to believe what they hear, especially if it is a dramatic morsel whispered by their classmates. Do not automatically assume that your little angel has the story straight. Call me or any other mom or be prepared to approach the situation diplomatically first.

The Mom Code states that we compliment each others' children in sports or other performances. Pick something, anything, to be positive about. Even though my child might shoot a basketball worse than everyone on the team, make a point of mentioning how enthusiastic and dependable he is. I and everyone else sitting in the stands every weekend knows that your kid is the next Michael Jordan but we are growing tired of lavishing praise on you in your vicarious glow without anything in return. If my kid doesn't play sports, take a minute or two to mention how polite or friendly she is. On some days, this could be the only positive thing I hear. If my child sang badly in the school concert, be prepared to lie through your teeth and say how cute he was.

The Mom Code says that if you gossip, you'd better watch your back. It will come back to bite you in the butt. If you must gossip, it should be well-disguised in a veil of compassion: "Mary is so good-hearted. It surprised me that she didn't bring anything to the teacher appreciation party. She used to practically run that event!" This gives you a moment to think about what a bitch you are being while still allowing you to be human.

The Mom Code is not understanding of moms whose kids are in eight after-school activities or who have multiple children and therefore does not tolerate whining from said parents. It is understood that you chose to let your kid join all of those activities and, well, nobody told you and hubby to get "cozy" quite so often, if you know what I mean. Being busy does not give you a pass from the rules of the code. Passes are given out for deaths, divorces, injury, illnesses and mental health issues. And no, being a mom is not a mental health issue. Nice try.

The Mom Code insists that you never take advantage of stay-at-home moms even if they have only one child and seem to have all day to lounge. You are welcome to ask for a favor, but if you make it a habit, be prepared to offer financial compensation or lose any existing friendship.

The Mom Code instructs us to never criticize each other's parenting skills. We are all amateurs, no matter how many children we have. None of us has a manual and all of us are making this up as we go along. The day I criticize Sybill for the fact that her son can't sit still in class is the day that the principal will call my house to ask why my daughter can't seem to keep her mouth shut. All of us have the ability to be good or bad parents, although sometimes the lines are blurred.

The Mom Code, although seemingly tough at times, also encourages us to help each other out because on some days, parenting is a lonely job. We should be there to build each other up, not break each other down.

Oh and by the way, the Mom Code has another name. It's also known as Common Sense.

31 Comments:

At 9:33 AM , Blogger Finn said...

Thanks for saying that. I think it's also called Common Courtesy.

Hi - Michele sent me!

 
At 9:35 AM , Blogger mar said...

Wonderfully written. I specially like the sentence " We are all amateurs, no matter how many children we have".

 
At 12:36 PM , Anonymous Nancy said...

Well written! I so agree with EVERYTHING!

You do not want to get caught in the gossip mill! I had the president of the PTA go off about someone else and it wasn;t pretty...

 
At 12:55 PM , Blogger crafty_carolina_mama said...

Thank you for this little pieceof reorientation! I especially liked the line, "we are all making this up as we go". A more true statement has never been made. By the way... thanks for stopping by my place. :)

 
At 12:55 PM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

hmmm...I think you are pissed off about something.

I agree with most of what you said. Except, I prefer honesty over politeness. I don't think it's other people's responsibility to make me feel good about myself. It's really hard for me to try and think of some way to compliment someone if there isn't anything. But, I don't sit and brag about my kids all day either. Usually, I am telling a story about what they set on fire or how they tortured the cat etc.

I am more likely to say these things to someone's face, if I have a problem with them. I recommend you do the same. I think it will be very theraputic for you. (:

 
At 5:14 PM , Anonymous Anne Glamore said...

This is awesome. It should be required reading. Could you add a clause about the baby sitter stealers??

 
At 10:21 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Terrific post! And it all is common sense and that other word that so many people seem to have forgotten..courtesy! And this is such an honest post, too...in every way. Wonderful Wonderful!
Here from Michele tonight, WK!

 
At 1:51 PM , Blogger kenju said...

AMEN, Karen! Well said and all true.

 
At 8:50 AM , Anonymous Janet (fondofsnape@gmail.com) said...

Common sense seems to have flown out the window lately. Excellent post! Hi, Michele sent me :-)

 
At 5:05 PM , Blogger owlhaven said...

Great post! I always look forward to your nex post....
Mary

 
At 8:52 PM , Anonymous Kristen said...

AHA - great last line. Ain't it the truth.

 
At 6:33 AM , Anonymous Scouser said...

Hi, thank you for visiting my site. Excellent post, although I'm not a parent myself I do understand your comments.

 
At 7:35 AM , Anonymous Terri said...

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.
Although my kids have been grown for years, it doesn't sound like much has changed at all in Mommydom. Just plain common sense, as you said, would sure make things much more pleasant.

 
At 9:10 AM , Blogger Viamarie said...

Interesting topic. Michele sent me today.

Have a great day!

 
At 1:00 PM , Blogger ribbiticus said...

you seem to have the entire codebook down. kudos to you. :)

 
At 1:27 PM , Blogger srp said...

Here from Michele.
Had to read a bunch of your posts.
Kept seeing myself. I'm not sure if this is good or not.
The college thing? What changed since I went? Horrific. Mine finally got to where she wanted to go. Took two tries and helped that we moved in state but worth it. She is happy.
The teenage thing? Mine is still a teen, at least for another month. Her dorm room looks like what I've always thought the aftermath of an atomic bomb would look like. When she comes home for a weekend, it is as if a small tornado follows her, wrecking havoc all around. She can totally mess up a room in ten seconds. So, this week, spring break I was even glad to see her go to Mississippi. What is she doing there while her friend is still in class this week? CLEANING HER APARTMENT! If her friend hadn't also blogged that Nyssa was cleaning in the middle of the night, I wouldn't have believed it! Why? I guess I'm just in shock. But, why not her dorm room or here, why in Mississippi does she clean? I'm ready for my straight jacket now.

 
At 3:48 PM , Anonymous jude said...

well said... all parents should have to sign a dotted line along the bottom. So many casual friendships are broken because people don't follow these common sense guidelines..

 
At 8:00 AM , Anonymous Nikki-ann said...

Yep, that's all common sense, but then nt everyone has it! :D

Here via Michele's. Hope you're having a good weekend.

 
At 8:21 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

An excellent post. It ought to be published as a book.

Michele sent me.

 
At 10:10 AM , Blogger sunshine scribe said...

That is spectacular. I loved reading your post - so true on every level!!!

 
At 5:27 PM , Blogger kontan said...

Laughing, nodding, and clapping!!!

 
At 5:43 AM , Blogger Linda said...

Shared this with my friends, and one suggested that this be distributed in the hospital as a MUST READ before releasing parents...putting a laminated card in the "gift" bags they give away...in LARGE PRINT.

thanks for your insight and YOUR common sense

 
At 5:55 AM , Anonymous Scouser said...

Hello again, here this time from Michele's

 
At 5:58 AM , Blogger Star said...

Hi Karen. I am here from Michele, and honestly thought I had commented on this post, but I see I didn't. It is so well written, and hits so many nails squarely on the head!

 
At 9:13 AM , Blogger Katkat said...

Hear!Hear! That was great. I need to give that to me sister in law for a refreasher course.

 
At 9:41 PM , Anonymous Jessica said...

Loved reading through your site. Love the mom code-you said it perfectly!

 
At 2:10 PM , Blogger Sandy said...

Ohhh, yuck. I'm guessing someone has violated the code.

Well written. Think we can get it printed up and sent out?

 
At 6:50 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

I think you've crafted another column. Beautifully said.

 
At 4:48 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

So the Mom Code's what's missing in my job, that pesky thing called the law.

Thanks for saying it so well.

 
At 1:29 PM , Blogger AZ said...

I just loved it. Too bad that nowadays some people lost their common sense.

 
At 1:30 PM , Blogger AZ said...

I loved it. Too bad that nowadays some people lost their common sense.

 

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