October 23, 2020

Mom Code: What Every Mother Needs


My best friend and I have a special agreement. It’s called mom code.


When I had my first daughter, we were talking on the phone one day about life. I started the conversation by saying “I love her so much. But this is just really hard.” And my friend quickly corrected me.

She said something I will never forget: “You never, EVER have to justify your feelings to me. I know you love your daughter. You don’t have to convince me of that before you tell me how you are feeling. Just tell me how you are feeling.”

That statement caught me completely off guard.

I would never want to seem like I was complaining. It reminded me that our relationship was a judgment-free zone, and no matter what I said to her, she would never question my fierce love and devotion to my kids.

That I could be painfully honest about the hard things, the scary things, the feelings that I didn’t understand, and she would still know… I love my daughter. She would still affirm that I am a good mom. That I am enough. That I am who my kids need.

Mom code can also apply in other areas of life. Did you forget to text someone back right away? It’s ok. Invoke the mom code. Did you show up late to a playdate? It’s okay. Mom code. It’s an understanding- a way of saying, “I get it. This is hard. There is grace for you here.”

And don’t we all need that?

Don’t we all need the ability to be vulnerable without the fear of being judged? As mothers, we are all too familiar with what other moms are going through. Yet, we hide. We put on a happy face and pretend that we are surviving, making it. In the grocery aisle we catch another mom’s eye in the grocery aisle, and there is a knowing. Like a soldier in battle, we exchange a glance-  “I get it. You can do this. We are both weary, but we can do this.”

We are portrayed as women at war– with ourselves, with our husbands, with our bodies, with our decisions, and most depressingly, with each other. Culture would paint us as those who are petty, fighting over every little detail of how we parent our children. Breast or bottle? Attachment or cry-it-out? Baby led weaning or… cereal at 4 months? The opportunities for disagreement are endless.

But when I meet moms in real life, I don’t see that.

I see women who want so badly to be told they are okay. That whatever they are doing, it is okay. That if their child is alive, happy and thriving, they are doing something right. That if they are loving their child the best that they know how, and providing for them in the best way possible, then they are being a good mom.

Before I had my daughter, I pictured what the perfect mom would look like. I wanted so badly not to “screw her up” or send her into therapy. I read every book, scrolled through every single online forum, read every internet article available from all sides. But the older she got, the more I realized, she didn’t need the perfect mother. She needs me. And I am going to screw her up. Somewhere along the way, I am going to fail her. I already have. I am not going to be to the best version of myself.

But I can wake up every morning and allow this motherhood journey to shape me, allow myself to submit to the refining experience that is mothering another human being. I can lean on God’s grace. And I can pray that I would steward her life well, and that when she takes flight, I have done my very best.

So, here, in this space? I’m invoking the mom code.

You are safe here. Your fears, your dark feelings, your frustration, your sadness, your disappointment, they are welcome here. You don’t have to pretend it’s easy. Right here, there is space, there is knowing, there is shared experience, and there is grace for you.

We are doing the holy work of shaping the future, and we need each other.

It's time to thrive, mama.

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About The Author

Hilary Barnett

Hilary Barnett is the founder of The New Mystique where she believes every mother is extraordinary, and typically writes the words that she most needs to hear.

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