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No Mom Left Behind

Let’s play Match the Madness. Here’s a rundown of my 7-year-old’s schedule for the last two weeks of school. I bet whatever age your kid is, the lineup is similar. Ice Cream Social. Book Fair. Walkathon. Spelling Bee. Birthday Party. Birthday Party. HIS Birthday Party. Open House. First Grade Picnic. Olympic Day. Class party. Father’s Day Breakfast. And that is excluding self-inflicted extra curricular activities.

And then there’s the rock that someone throws at your head from a passing car: the afterschool activity that ended last week—but you didn’t know it. This particular rock caught me on the side of the head yesterday just hours after I was having a conversation common among moms—especially those who work outside the home.

The one about feeling isolated. I was mildly whining to my office mate that, as someone who lives away from family, and has only lived in my town for a little over a year, it’s hard to get through this period without the kind of backup that can be provided by, say, a grandma or grandpa. The other moms at school are all nice, kind, good people. But it feels weird to call them and ask one of them to step in. It takes a while to get that kind of friendship going. And when you work, that period is prolonged.

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Minutes later, the phone rang: my anxious little boy was waiting on the playground. The after-school guy had not picked him up because that particular program had ended. Mother. Of. The Year. This is not the first time this has happened, by the way. I’ve racked my brain to remember if my own mother—who had seven kids—ever left me stranded. But somehow she managed to keep track of us all.

What happened next shifted my little world with its little worries just a little bit. The landline rang. It was a teacher from the school. She was kind. My cell buzzed. It was a text from another mom saying my kids were on the playground. My phone rang again. A different mom, offering to go back and get the kids, even though she had already taken hers home. She’d guessed I was stuck at work.

All this time I thought I had no backup, but what I really had was an inability to ask for help when I needed it.

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It truly was there all the time. Now, that doesn’t make me feel that much better when my kid asks if I’ll be at his 10 a.m. history presentation (no, but I will race out in my lunch break to be at his class end-of-the-year party). But that’s just the life of the working mom.

What I have realized, though, is that it doesn’t just take a village—it takes a freakin’ army. But even if you don’t know your fellow foot soldiers, you can usually rely on a certain code among moms at this time of year when we’re all feeling rather battle-weary: There will be No Mom Left Behind.

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