Motherhood is a thankless job, but most of us knew that going in. So when someone throws me a bone in the form of flattery, I savor it. Honestly, here are certain compliments every mother needs to hear, because we are constantly worried we're messing up and usually filled with self-doubt and, well, we're desperate to know if we're doing motherhood right and if our kids are going to turn out healthy and happy and functional.
I don’t go fishing for compliments, to be sure, but I do appreciate it when someone takes notice of my parenting style and shares a positive remark that reminds me I'm doing a good job. My outlook on parenting usually defaults to, “Why isn’t anyone listening to me?” For the most part, I don't feel like I'm making any sort of affirmative difference in my kids’ lives. Sometimes an outside perspective, in the form of a compliment, can really help me power through those moments when I swear my kid’s only goal in life is to see how far they can push my buttons before I collapse in utter defeat.
It’s important for moms to get a shout-out every once in a while (or, you know, always wouldn't hurt either). We can use the encouragement; We need another person providing assurance that we're doing a good job. I mean, it’s not like my kids take time out of their days to stop and say, “Thanks for raising me to be a decent human being.”
So, with that in mind and in the name of uplifting hard-working, dedicated mothers everywhere, here are a few compliments every mother needs to hear, and the very valid reasons why she needs to hear them. If you catch a mom being great, let her know!
“Your Kid Looks Happy"
This compliment means the world to me. My kids’ default setting, with me, is not “happy.” It’s whiny and usually argumentative or, at the very least, distraught via the latest tantrum.
I know it’s a good thing that kids show their disgruntled sides to their parents because it means they feel securely loved enough to not worry about the consequences of throwing shade at us. I'm also thrilled to hear reports that they’re actually experiencing happiness in their otherwise terrible (“What? Only strawberry yogurt? But I want blueberry!”) lives.
“I Admire How You Handled That”
I don’t hear this a lot, partly because my kids aren’t that prone to tantrums in public places, but would rather reserve their very specific form of mom-torture for the moments when I'm confined to our home. However, when they do throw down, it’s epic. I do my best to remain calm, though I am flaming with embarrassment, frustration, and that overwhelming feeling that makes think I’ve failed as a mom. So when a friend or random person remarks positively on my extreme effort to not melt down alongside my child, I am so grateful. It almost makes it worth enduring. Almost.
“You Know What’s Best Because You’re The Mom”
Damn straight. In their classrooms, the teachers are the bosses. On the school bus, the driver is. But I’m their parent, and I have to mitigate the decisions of all the people in my children’s life. When it comes to keeping them safe, loved, and prepared for life, the mom (and other respective co-parent) knows what’s best for our kids, in our home at least.
“Thanks For Making The Time”
I don’t know any parent who has “free” time. We are all scheduled to the teeth, whether we work outside the home or not, or have one kid or four. When I take on a task, or lend a hand, it is really nice for someone to express value in my time. I don’t help out just to seek compliments, as I’m much more altruistic in my intentions. In other words, I don’t expect to be thanked. It’s just really appreciated when I am.
“Your Kids Are Very Well-Behaved”
I know that’s a lie, but I also know they can pull it together for grown-ups who aren't family members. They may be wrestling banshees when they’re home with me, but I must have done something right if I'm not constantly disciplining my kids in public.
“You Look Nice”
I probably don’t, and honestly that is fine by me, but I would love to hear that you don’t find me to be a colossal eyesore, what with my unwashed leggings and maternity tunic (though I am five years postpartum).
“Your Child Contributes So Much To Class”
I practically swooned when my son’s kindergarten teacher told me this. Every day I try to find out about what happened in class, and every day my kid shows zero interest in sharing. So I love knowing that, at school, he’s eager to talk about his life. I guess it means he has some fun with us on the weekends when we make an effort to have little adventures to the zoo or a new playground or museum. I’d never know if any of it resonated with him or was meaningful to him, if his teacher didn’t tell me.
“I Love Her Name!”
I really needed to hear this when my daughter was a newborn. For the first few weeks of her life, I was convinced we had given her the wrong name. It didn’t seem to “fit” her and I was totally second-guessing my ability to, not only name my baby, but raise my baby. Knowing that other people were charmed by her name helped validate my choice, and quell my insecurity.
“What A Good-looking Family!”
Rare is the occasion when I post a photo where all four of us are looking at the camera, smiling, and in focus. So, though I snap pics of my kids constantly, I don’t have many shots of us together. Reading an effusively positive comment on a posted family photo makes me feel terrific. It’s not because I need to be complimented on our appearance, but because it captures a moment of pure joy. Again, a rare thing for the four of us to experience at the same time.
“She’s A Mini You!”
My knee jerk reaction to this statement is, “Oh no.” Do I want to be raising a version of myself, with the same hang-ups, quirks, and insecurities? Not really, I want my daughter to be better than I am, just like every parent wants better for their children. Then again, my self-described "flaws are all internal stuff, which people aren’t seeing. What they are commenting on is something positive in my child’s behavior that reminds them of me. It must please them, right? RIGHT?! Yes, I am a delight, and, by natural extension, so is my child. Thanks for noticing!
“I Know It’s Hard And That You’re Doing The Best You Can”
I don’t want to have smoke blown up my ass for “doing it all” (working full-time, raising kids, being an officer on our co-op board, yadda, yadda, yadda). That’s not a compliment (to me) and it isn't an accurate representation of what I do, as a mother. I don’t “do it all” well, all the time. I don’t like that society places any value on women having to “do it all,” as caregivers and income-earners, especially because men are not expected to “juggle” all the aspects of their lives.
What does resonate with me, though, is when people notice that my life can be tough to navigate and I’m trying my damnedest to make the right choices as they relate to the big picture. Disciplining kids is difficult, but better for them in the long run. Taking a lower rung position is isn't esteem-boosting, but ultimately beneficial to my family because I’m able to better maintain my mental health. Missing school events because of work, not seeing my friends due to kids’ dance recitals, vacuuming for the millionth time in one week under the dining room table and wanting to never cook dinner again all put chinks in my armor of sanity, but I’m powering through. It’s what moms do. We’d love to hear others echo that significance.