Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mom Code

My husband and brother will sometimes share a few laughs when discussing "man codes." Unspoken rules for men--they have them in many situations but my brother's favorite topic for man codes is discussing using public restrooms. There are apparently unspoken rules about where you stand, what you do while using the restroom, how much talking is apporpriate and when. It's usually pretty funny to listen to.

Becoming a mom sometimes feels like I've walked into a public restroom with all sorts of unspoken rules except I don't know them and I'm lost. I'm the man standing next to you and talking while you're trying to use the restroom--at least that's how I feel sometimes. I feel like everyone else is probably saying things like, "What is her deal? Doesn't she know x, y, z?"

The area I have particular concern about is JaiseAnn's behavior. I remember pre-kids Zach and I always seemed to know the exact moment when someone else needed to take their kids out of the chapel at church, but when it was my own baby making noise, I was suddenly not so sure. Was this too much noise? Do I take her out now? Is a little more noise acceptable in Sunday School or Relief Society as opposed to Sacrament meeting? 

I kind of felt my way through that phase and feel like I have an okay handle on stuff in that regard. But JaiseAnn walks now, and she talks to people at church, and she wants other kids snacks if we're in a big group and they have snacks. She doesn't know any better, so she wanders over to them and eagerly attempts to get her own snack (or twelve). "No JaiseAnn, those aren't yours." I would quickly reply and head over to remove her from the snack situation only to be reassured by a kind and understanding mom, "She's fine. It's okay. They can share." 

But the mom code is weird and sometimes unfair. Just as you're getting used to the understanding moms--the ones who say it's okay for your kid to have their kid's snacks and the ones who let them play with their kid's toys--there come the not so understanding moms.

I work out at a church with some other women one day a week. I bring JaiseAnn. They have child care there during the summer months but I don't leave her in there because she cries. Instead, I just let her hang out with me. Most everyone has been super understanding. She stays close by me for the most part and doesn't get into too much. A few other moms keep their kids with them in the gym, too. Usually more contained with an electronic device of some sort and food. Sometimes JaiseAnn makes her way over to them--curious about the electronics and the treats. 

A few weeks back a few kids were eagerly sharing their snacks with her and I was pretty grateful. It was nice to have JaiseAnn happily occupied while I focused on exercise. I guess I got comfortable. The other day, she targeted the wrong kid. She took his snack and that mom didn't say anything to me, but rudely picked JaiseAnn up and moved her away from her kid with a mean and ugly look on her face. I hadn't realized JaiseAnn was being a problem--it hurt my feelings on so many levels. Was she thinking I was a bad parent? Why was she annoyed with JaiseAnn? JaiseAnn wasn't doing anything harmful or mean and she holds my whole heart so someone showing irritation with her for no apparent reason brought tears to my eyes almost instantly. 

I ran to grab JaiseAnn and I took her outside the gym for a bit. Mostly so that I could calm down and stop crying and also to try to get her to want to stay with me for the remainder of the morning. I just can't figure out the rules. Moms are so different--some so understanding and accommodating and others not so much. Some make you feel like you're all in this together and the others make you feel like you're out on left field by yourself. 

There's so much power in how we treat other people. While I shouldn't care what other people think--I still have feelings, all of us do. It was a good reminder to me to be a bit more understanding and accommodating of other people's kids--to be more warm and inviting. I want to be the mom that makes other moms feel like we're all in it together. 

In the meantime, can you help me figure out the code? What are the unspoken rules? I am so lost. 

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