When I was a new mom, other moms stepped up to help me out all over the place. My mom came to help for a week after I had both daughters – cleaning, cooking, staring at my infant so I could sleep. You know, the norm. My mother-in-law came to snuggle my first born while I showered or entertain my toddler after having my second born, and my girlfriends made tons of frozen meals, complete with sticky note instructions for easy cooking so that we didn’t have to worry about feeding ourselves. And these moms are amazing and necessary and a core part of the mama village.
But there was also another ninja mom, who I didn’t know very well but was a neighbor down the hall. And she’s one of those un-sung awesome mamas that we really should all aim to be for at least one person at some point. She baked cookies for me within a few weeks of my giving birth, leaving them outside my door with a little note, and I will never forget how grateful I was that she didn’t knock.
Which sounds AWFUL, I realize, but if you’ve ever been a new, exhausted, un-showered mama, you will never appreciate anyone more than the person who leaves you chocolate chip cookies without expectations of a conversation. That mama didn’t have to do that; I wasn’t simmering in my apartment wondering why my nice neighbor that I’d had three brief conversations with up to that point hadn’t thought to bake me cookies. But she did it anyway, and I promised myself that I’d pay it forward once I was sleeping again.
Cut to nearly four years later and I’d like to think that I’ve done right by her. I’ve left cookies, sent gift cards, shipped diapers, sent hand-me-downs, and sat and stared at babies so friends could shower in peace or go get her nails done without guilt. And not because I’m the Mother Teresa of Mamas, but because I know how much I’ve appreciated each and every one of those gestures throughout the years and how relatively easy it is to do those things for others.
Then, the other day I got a text message from a fellow mom, thanking me for reaching out. I’d not done anything special – I’d been thinking about her periodically for a few days and sent a text to check in. She’s a relatively new mom and mentioned that nobody else had really been checking in and that the diapers I’d sent to her a few weeks ago were exactly what she’d needed. (Tip: if sending diapers, send one size up from where you know her baby is currently. That makes you a GENIUS. Especially because I have also gotten stuck being like, “Oh crap, my kid doesn’t fit into these diapers for, well, probably a while now….and now I’ve got nothin’ and I really, really, really don’t want to go out in public like this right now.”)
Anyway, it got me to thinking that we need to make sure we’re keeping up our A game on the Moms Helping Moms Initiative. What’s the Moms Helping Moms Initiative? It’s something I made up one line ago, but sounds catchy, no?
So listen up, mama - I’m tasking you with this in the next 3.5 weeks before Mother’s Day because I happen to believe that a little ripple can create a big wave, and we could all use ripples and waves of kindness now and again. Especially when we’re leaking or sleep-deprived or on our last nerve with the goddamn dinner routine.
Mission: in the next month, find a mama, near or far, and do one (or more) of the following:
· Bake cookies/lasagna/casserole/or buy a bottle of wine and leave it on their doorstep (complete with cooking instructions on a sticky note). Don’t ring the bell and make them feel obligated to invite you into their messy house or apartment that smells like diapers or dirty laundry.
· Send a check-in text with an action-plan – is she a new mama? Text a check-in and offer (if you’re able) to come sit with her baby while she takes a shower, goes to the store, or takes a walk in complete silence. Or text and offer up a girl’s night out. If she’s a not-new mom, offer the same exact things.
· Reach out to a mom network online or within your own friend circle and gather up clothes, toys, books, and accessories that you no longer use and find a mom who needs them.
· Send a Seamless gift card via email to her in any amount you’d like – make sure, though, that Seamless delivers in her area, or she’ll just hate you. But if they do? This’ll be an easy way to guarantee she eats whatever she wants, doesn’t have to pay for it, and doesn’t panic one night when she realizes that she and her partner collectively forgot that they need, well, food in the house. It happens. Kind of often.
And report back! I promise that none of these gestures will go unused or unappreciated, even if the mama in question is too tired or distracted to text a thank you. It’s not about the thank you, it’s about Moms Helping Moms – it takes a village, ladies, so let’s make sure ours is strong.