Being a first time mom at 38, I was the last in my line of my friends to have a child. I had a difficult time relating with all of these friends when I was childless. There were many things I just did not understand.
One day while shopping at the mall with two of my friends and their children, one of the kids fell behind in the group. At the time she was only a toddler. I watched as she walked over to the escalator. As she slowly stepped on, I screamed her name & told her to be careful. Her mother quickly scooped her up & we continued on our way. A little later, my other friend pulled me aside and reprimanded me. “You don’t do that.” she told me. “I didn’t want her to get hurt.” I replied. “You don’t ever yell at another person’s kid.” she told me. I learned that many mothers felt this way and took this to be some sort of unwritten mom code. I learned to hold my tongue when it came to other people’s children.
Fast forward a few years, I am at a birthday party & playing with my neighbors two sons. The mother stood at the entrance & watched as I entertained her sons with my goofy antics. One second the boys were jumping & laughing and then without warning they started to wrestle each other. I stopped, frozen with the curse of the mom code. My neighbor hollered at me, “Stop them! Break it up!” I quickly pulled them off of each other in a daze of confusion. What is the correct thing to do when dealing with other people’s children? As someone that did not have any kids of her own, I truly did not know.
After the birth of my daughter, my eyes were opened to all of the struggles and joys all of my friends had already experienced. It brought a new clarity and understanding. As my daughter reached a certain age, we began to be more social. I took her to the park, kid’s gyms, the library and anywhere where she could be around other children. Often the mothers would socialize and talk among themselves while their children played unsupervised. I found myself facing that same old dilemma. If I saw a child that was about to do something that could put themselves or others in harm’s way, I am I supposed to sit back and mind my own business or do I risk the mother’s wrath and speak up?
I will take the wrath. I cannot keep quiet if I see a child dangerously close to the end of a jungle gym. I won’t bite my tongue if I see one kid hurling toys at another one’s head. I won’t because what if the day I stay quiet, someone gets hurt and what if one day it is my daughter throwing toys or standing to close to the edge, I would hope someone e would speak up for me.
Recently while at an amusement park, I saw a young child struggling to get off her ride. She looked as if she might fall, so I gave her my hand to climb down. The mother very defensively grabbed her hand and pulled her away. What a strange reaction I thought.
As mothers, we all have the same goal, we all face the same challenges and we all need help once in a while. Nobody wants their child to get hurt and I am sure nobody wants their children to hurt anyone else, whether it is physically or emotionally, so why is it so taboo to address another mother’s child. If it done in a respectful manner, shouldn’t we all welcome the extra set of eyes when our backs are turned.