You Do You, I Guess

Beige Flags For Mom Friends!

Number 4: Won’t stop calling you “mama.”

The concept of the “beige flag” has so thoroughly taken over TikTok, that there are now explainer pieces on the phrase in the New York Times. But for parents too busy to clock every trending hashtag, a beige flag has come to mean odd or quirky quality that you notice about someone — it isn’t necessarily bad, but isn’t necessarily good, either. It’s something that gives one pause, like someone who wears their shirts inside out on purpose. Or someone who eats their pizza crust first. Oddish behavior, yes, but not a total dealbreaker.

Reading up on the trend reminded me of that one time in college I woke up my boyfriend by putting pieces of deli meat on his face. Should he have broken up with me immediately? Some might say absolutely. Others might just see this as a waste of a good sandwich.

Beige flags are most commonly used when talking about dating or romantic partnerships. But what about those other important relationships in our lives, namely, that of the Mom Friend? There are of course obvious red flags with certain kinds of Mom Friends: The Mom Friend who is always late, always forgets her wallet, and “can’t figure out Venmo.” The Mom Friend who lets her 6-year-old watch Hereditary. The Mom Friend who doesn’t believe ringworm is contagious. The Mom Friend who would love to tell you about an amazing opportunity selling leggings. Or the Mom Friend who has a picture of your husband as her screensaver. These are all crimson-snapping-wildly-in-the-wind flags that one should never ignore.

And then there are the Mom Friend beige flags… those little, carpet-colored bits of fabric that might give a faint flap in the breeze, but might not be obvious friendship-enders. These include:

  • Sitting in the backseat next to the baby while Dad chauffeurs. Every time.
  • Her ringtone is Billy Joel’s “The Piano Man” played at top volume. (Sometimes we aren’t in fact all in the mood for a melody, Erin. Especially during story hour when the librarian is trying to get through The Giving Tree.)
  • Once offered you a pig-in-a-blanket she’d pulled out of her pocket. (No thanks, Sherry. I’m good.)
  • Calling you "mama."
  • Her kid always has a blue popsicle ring around his mouth. Always. Even first thing in the morning. (Does he eat them in his sleep? Or has he eaten so many the ring is now like a semi-permanent tattoo of Blueberry Bomb?)
  • Has fierce, prolonged whisper fights with her wife right in front of you. (Whether or not it’s okay to give Ruby more Pirate’s Booty is clearly going to end your marriage one day, Stef.)
  • Wearing the same “Got Milk?” t-shirt to every single playdate. (Is she just very pro Vitamin D? Or does she only ever meet you on laundry day?)
  • She doesn’t seem to care that none of the magic markers have a cap on them. (Are you a Crayola heiress Pam, or do you just love chaos?)
  • Refuses to let her son go down the slide for “religious reasons.” (Do they belong to the Church of No Fun?)
  • Buys your kid super expensive birthday gifts, but wraps them in aluminum foil. (Thanks for the 3D printer, Emily. And I guess now I can make a lasagna?)
  • Confessing she has a recurring nightmare she’s trapped in a coffin with Ed Sheeran. (Be sure to never play “Shape of You” in her presence.)
  • She never fails to kiss your ear when you hug hello. (Is this something cultural you aren’t aware of? An ear fetish? Or does Jessa simply need glasses?)
  • That one time her husband sat beside you on the couch and proceeded to use Floss Picks while talking about bitcoin. (Though it is impressive that he figured out how to make a conversation about bitcoin even more insufferable.)
  • Wore Golden Goose sneakers to your daughter’s first Communion. (It’s church Carol. And also, you really spent that much on sneakers?)
  • Invites you to lunch at Chuck E. Cheese…without the kids. (At least they sell booze at Dave and Busters, Lisa!)
  • Refers to her own husband as “my lover, Kyle.”
  • Sucks on a candy necklace during PA meetings. Loudly.
  • And last but not least… once tried to have a discussion about “period sex” while your toddlers were playing with Duplo. (Actually, wait. That was me.)

Personally, I think finding a Mom Friend you click with, someone who also lusts after Harry Styles, hates the Hotel Transylvania movies, and who doesn’t judge your dino nuggets is no small thing. So I am willing to forgive quite a bit. Just don’t ask me to sell leggings.