Kind is the New Cool – An Inclusive Motherhood Tribe

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Photo credit, Laura Barr Photography

I recently read and was very moved by this quote by Tara Mackey, “If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans would do.” I spend a lot of time teaching my children colors, how to count to ten, the importance of sharing, how to kick a soccer ball, but the one value I try to emphasize? Be kind. Straight A’s, being the star athlete or the best musician, none of that really matters.

What matters to me is that I am raising children who include and respect others, and above all, are kind.

As I venture out with my three and almost one-year-old, I meet many different moms. We hit it off right away with some, our kids get along, and honestly, it’s just easy. Others, well, let’s say that I didn’t realize “mean girls” still existed in your 30’s and 40’s.

The way I see it, we are all pretty much in the same boat. All tired, stressed at times, prepping meals, doing laundry, working, and raising tiny humans that we love with all of our hearts.

So when did being cliquey and exclusive in friendships become a thing again? I left high school 13 years ago, and with it, I left the teenage mentality, attitude, and naïveté behind. But I carry with me every day the fact that I was bullied. Badly. Can’t we all be friends? The number of women I have encountered, since becoming a mother, that blatantly ignore me or cannot even flash a smile is astonishing.

Since when did motherhood become so exclusive?

I value my friendships where no one bats an eye when you say, “OMG, my kids ate cereal for dinner, and I did not give them a bath after they were at school all morning.” Why, especially as women, are we so judgmental? We should be raising one another up, not tearing each other down. I grew up with the principles of, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” and “The more, the merrier.” Yet I find mothers talking behind one another’s backs and have even encountered the, “You cannot set up play dates with that mother because I was friends with her first.” We are trying to teach our children to include everyone, not to bully and speak kindly, yet this is how mothers are acting?

After experiencing such tragedy in my life, many things have been put into perspective for me. I am much more sensitive. I am more careful with others’ feelings. I love more deeply. I aim to make my children in Heaven and on Earth proud.

When I recently left a child’s birthday party in tears, my three-year-old asked me what was wrong. I told her the truth. I said some moms are just not kind. When we see someone we know, we don’t ignore them and walk the other way. We include everyone because we never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. As a thirty-two-year-old woman, I shouldn’t be leaving a child’s birthday party in tears, and my daughter shouldn’t have to say, “I’m sorry, mommy, I wish they were nicer to you.”

While my children may not be old enough quite yet to fully understand the principle of kindness, the best I can do is set a good example for them and practice what I am preaching. I am by no means perfect, but I try a little harder every day to be better than I was the day before, to smile and say hi even if I am in a rush or having a bad day. A little kindness goes a long way!

Making friends as a mother is challenging. You are constantly interrupted, canceling plans last minute because your child had a meltdown, leaving play dates early because one of them isn’t listening (and of course, you threatened to leave six times and have to stick to the consequences), find it hard to take time for a girls’ night.

I am still looking for my tribe, but one thing I have learned is that the mothers who are kind and friendly, who love my kids, who speak respectfully about others, include everyone; those are my people.

If everyone were a little kinder and more inclusive, we would all be more united in this journey called parenthood. Imagine how much more our community of mothers supporting mothers would grow…plus, we are stronger together, not divided. 

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Janine is a stay at home mom of four, two on earth and twins in Heaven. She grew up in Stratford, CT and now lives in Port Chester, NY. After graduating from culinary school in 2010, she went on to be an executive pastry chef, a cake designer, then a corporate sous chef in NYC. Janine started her journey to becoming a Mom following her 2012 wedding. After struggles with infertility, she and her husband turned to IVF and were blessed with identical twins. Her twin boys grew wings on 6/26/14, after being born severely premature. Overcoming the darkness of infant loss and finding a new normal were very trying. Janine and her husband welcomed a rainbow baby in August of 2015, who’s name means “pure light.” Their daughter brought so much joy and light back into their world. In November of 2017, their second rainbow and miracle, a boy, was born. Janine works very diligently, as a mother of angels, to make sure her boys are always remembered. She is a facilitator for Hope After Loss, a support group in CT for grieving parents, and honors her boys every day in special ways. Janine loves to do yoga, cook for her family (homemade baby food and all), drink wine, and is always up for a cup of coffee. She is also in the beginning phase of co-authoring a baby cookbook with a dear childhood friend, and creates custom cakes and cupcakes for special occasions. Her sweet creations can be seen on her website www.neaniecakes.com.