Chivalry in Motherhood

Have you ever heard of the term chivalry? 

Today, I would like to talk about chivalry but I will call it “modern chivalry in motherhood” or “kindness in motherhood” 

I strongly believe in today’s society that admirable behavior is an attractive quality in one’s personality. The choice to do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times.

Now, I am not here to bore you with a history lesson about knights during medieval times when the term chivalry was initiated, meaning to be courteous, kind or have the willingness to help the weak, which was all too common in that era of cruelty. I am here to seek the true meaning of  “kindness” or “chivalry” and what it means today.  I have pondered with this throughout my life in various situations and I find myself thinking about it A LOT now when witnessing and experiencing “unkindly” and “kindly” situations when my small children are present and we are in public.

 I consider myself a positive person and always try to seek the bright side in negative situations and I know, inevitably (although I despise them) We all have bad days!  I believe that we’ve all been there, a public situation where you wish that you had four arms or could just “kindly” shout to the empty-handed person next to you  “Hey you! Would you mind giving me a hand?”

This time last year when the dreaded old man winter kept lingering but often a day thrown in of warmth to remind us that warmer days are ahead.  I was feeling antsy, tired of being cooped in all winter with a toddler and then a baby.  I was feeling ready to escape the daily winter routine, and with my daughter’s ever growing love of dancing, I thought it would be a perfect time to sign her up for a little dance / tumbling class I saw advertised.

The first morning of my daughter’s class I arrive solo with my her and infant son, which I often do.  We enter excited for her new little adventure tutu in tow, and not one person greets our entrance or nearly turns to even glance or say a single word or mutter of  “hello” “hi” or “good morning”,  instead there was pure silence as if we were just ghosts passing through. We peeled off our winter gear as I encouraged my daughter who was reluctant to join the class of children that she had never met. This was a new and exciting (was suppose to be) fun experience so our family made a big deal of it for her, but no encouragement from staff or others left me feeling unpleased and concerned,  I thought well OK, it is morning ..I get it!

But an hour goes by of complete silence and yet nothing from anyone, only an brief  instruction of where we could store our belongings,  not even a look our direction as my son sweetly babbled and tried to engage with others while bouncing on my lap.  I consider myself a friendly person, I usually smile at everyone I meet or at least say  “hi” and I’m not expecting to engage wherever I go, trust me, I appreciate silence in all forms too, but this to me was an enjoyable experience,  how could you not smile and associate with a room full of darling little ones in tutu’s?  this was a day I learned quickly that I  “wish” we would have all stayed home! 

When her class was over, I wanted to get the heck out of there and as fast as possible!

I bundled both my children back in the multiple winter layers and put my son back into his car seat with a blanket over top, my daughter whom was upset after the class because she wasn’t ready to leave a small friend she had met, a three year old the friendliest person in the entire place,  I grasped onto her little hand with my hand and was literally pulling her out the door, knowing if I let go and her hand slipped, she would go running back in, causing a scene and making it worse, having to carry her and my infant son out at the same time (this has happened before too) with the over packed diaper bag on one shoulder, heavy baby in carseat on opposite elbow and toddler hand in free hand following.

I began pushing through the second set of exit double doors with snow blowing in our faces as a wind gust suction cups the door closed, at this point my arms are shaky, I feel they’re about to fall off from heavy equipped baby and nonetheless, items start falling out of the diaper bag onto the wet floor! I am sweating underneath, my daughter is crying, and my internal dialog is begging to get us out of there fast and safely! As I turn to check that we left nothing behind on the floor, I instead grab a glimpse of several staring eyes but not one person offers to help, which I know this had to look as ridiculous as it felt.

I uttered several words under my breath that day with frozen toes and fingers and breathlessly buckled my angelic children into their car seats.  I quickly jumped into the driver’s seat to literally start bawling my eyes out from this hasty situation and these uncourteous, unhelpful people!


Days passed as we visited different child friendly and public places that we visit on the ordinary, some people are kind, most people keep to themselves, as we (TRY), and we have the regular favorites that we see out and about at our local library, local store etc, that we often chat small talk but we too are busy with the hustle and bustle of life, errands, toddlerhood, and my (trying) to answer every overly curious four year question and generally MOST people are Kind.

Days passed and I never mentioned that horrible day to anyone for I didn’t want to relive it and chalked it up as a “bad day” and maybe everyone else was having a bad day too and the weather can certainly influence feelings, Right?

Until I opened my Facebook a few days later to see a disturbing post from a dear friend of mine who was at a local restaurant along with her two children,  who encountered the same situation as my own, her newborn baby in the car seat in one arm, hanging onto her small child’s hand in the other, diaper bag on shoulder trying to open several doors with a table of full of teenagers staring at her 2 feet away? Does chivalry no longer exist? Couldn’t they see that I was struggling? she posted.

This got me thinking about my own situation and how alone and embarrassed I felt in that moment of struggle, not one person could momentarily take a moment to help an obvious struggling stranger? Is it our era? Is it not taught at home? I know that we have several toddler books of being polite, helping others and sharing. I now pay attention and encourage my children to help others and feel that I am doing something right when I witness my children helping each other or noticing when one is in need of a helping hand, they are always willingly to help and I see the gratitude in their tiny faces when they do.

Is it ok to constantly live your life just out for yourself? I believe good manners are relevant. Maybe “how to be a good citizen” should be in the curriculum?

I understand the possibilities of unsafe situations, but sometimes isn’t that just what you’re supposed to do or at least try to help others? Because well, we are human?

Be kind. It is so simple and so powerful.

I believe being a mom is so, so hard. We have the responsibility of raising children that will grow up to make a positive impact in this world … and that is a lot of pressure. So, I wholeheartedly believe living a kind existence is so important. Be kind to your children, be kind to yourself, be kind to other people. Everyone is fighting their own battles … We all make daily choices of how we help others and how we present ourselves, what does it hurt to show a little kindness to everyone you meet?  This is what I hope for at the end of every day that if my children learned anything from me, they at least learned to be kind.

Do something kind for a stranger today, smile at everyone you pass, go out of your way to do something nice for someone and if you see someone struggling and you are available! Help them!

Alexis is a photographer and writer at Live Northerly and Madison Mom, a mother to two energetic littles — Lydia and Leo — and a wife to her high school sweetheart Steven. She is a born and raised Wisconsin girl and now lives in the Driftless Region near her husband’s third-generation family farm. Alexis loves to celebrate life, from the little moments to the special occasions and hopes to inspire others to find the beauty around us! Follow her and her families adventures @wisconmom


  1. I also have witnessed many of these situations and have lived through those moments of sweaty pits and fingernail imprints in the palm of my hand from heavy bags. It’s awful. I however have learned that it takes a village. And believe me when I tell you that I’m no longer afraid to speak up and say something. I believe it’s the best way to really bring awareness to the lack of chilvary. I’ve held doors open for men and women with Todler in hand, bags in another and not one single thank you. When this happens I’m always sure to say “you’re welcome!” louder than usual when this happens and my toddler is fast to say “mommy they didn’t say thank you” wondering why I’m saying you’re welcome and that’s when I take time to explain to her that that’s exactly why I’m saying something, just to make her aware that manners are still needed wherever you go. I teach my daughter to hold the door for me, for the elder and anyone struggling. if they don’t say thank you, I make sure to tell her how kind that was of her to go out of her way to help others, and we never know what kind of day they are having and you won’t always be rewarded with a thank you, but it always feels good to be kind. I am not afraid to step in and mother children, specially when it’s something like manners and safety. I believe if we all step in and say something we will bring awareness and maybe bring some good into our daily lives. I feel that if my child was being innapropriate or lacking respect and someone respectfully called their attention it would make a bigger impact than if I said something. It sounds like you are doing a magnificent job teaching your children kindness. Thank you for that!!


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