When it comes to expressing and receiving love, I use my words. I love giving (and, I won't lie, receiving) compliments. Maybe this is the extrovert in me talking, but I feel as though letting someone know they are seen and loved in some capacity or another is a great gift and comfort. And, as a group, moms could use that kind of boost. So here are the kindest things you can say to a mom.
Women are frequently pressured into motherhood to the point where women who aren't particularly interested in children are pushed to the social periphery, but at the same time once a woman has children it can be easy to stop seeing her for who she actually is. Yay for weird societal contradictions, right? And I don't want to cause undue alarm, but I'm starting to think society might be a bit, you know, sexist! I mean... could it be true? How did this happen? When? Does our president know, do you think?
Jokes aside, I feel like the world in general and moms in particular could stand to have a little more verbal kindness thrown at them. It's such a small gesture that can make a huge difference. Done consistently over time, it can shift a person's sense of self for the better. So with that in mind, here are a few ideas to get you stared:
"You're Good At This"
"This" being the whole "mom" thing. Because, honestly, we're so hard on ourselves sometimes. It's not that we're perfect or need to feel perfect, but we often have a tendency to focus on the plate we dropped instead of the 49 we somehow manage to keep spinning throughout the day, week, month, or whatever. Just a simple, "Hey, I see you and you're great" goes such a long way.
"They Look Like You"
I've anecdotally noticed that people claim not just that my babies look more like their father, but that all babies look more like their fathers. Apparently this whole "all babies look like their dad" thing is an actual thing, too, and according to this article from Scientific American. But as the article shows, studies do not back up this annoying claim as a fact. So it'd be nice, every now and then, to hear that I passed something on to my children and that I wasn't just my husband's clone incubator.
"It's Obvious How Much Your Child Loves You"
The relationship between a mother and a child is beautiful... and hard-won. It's not that they're hard to love, but the physical and emotional effort it takes to raise a child is Herculean. So it'd be nice to hear that other people can see the relationship you've built and that it's loving. This would be especially nice on a day when they're being really obnoxious and salty towards me.
"Your Child Is So Loved"
It's also nice to know that the love I feel for my kids can be seen by others, not only because I want other people to know my intentions but, also, if outsiders see how obviously my love is, chances are my child sees and acknowledges that love, too.
[Compliment A Specific Parenting-Related Accomplishment]
If you know a mom has been working really hard on, say, potty training or getting a kid to sleep through the night, or breastfeeding, or helping her kindergartener read, or whatever: make a big deal out of it when she reaches her goal. Because, I promise you, no matter how much she told you about it there was so much more to it than whatever you heard.
[Compliment A Specific Non-Parenting Related Accomplishment]
With more on her plate (and kids put, like so, so much on your plate) it can be harder to reach your own personal goals. Also, some people have this tendency to ignore anything non-mom related you do once you become a mom. So celebrate a mom's promotion, her latest painting, her successful fundraiser, or whatever with at least as much zeal as you'd celebrate, say, hearing about her kid's good grades.
It can be hard to maintain a personal sense of identity once you have kids, and that gets harder when it feels like no one sees you anymore.
"You Inspired Me To..."
We're all muddling through parenthood — every single one of us — and that makes a lot of us feel like frauds. So to hear from someone else that we got something "right," and so right that it was worthy of emulation, is incredible. Because of course we find inspiration in other people all the time, but to know that we were a source of inspiration is powerful.
"Your Baby/Partner/Family/Company Is Lucky To Have You"
I'll repeat: we're hard on ourselves. It can be easy, sometimes, to think you're failing in almost every damn aspect of your life. Or, if you're "winning" in one aspect, that it somehow comes at the expense of all the others. So to hear that, actually, of all the people in the world to fill the role of mom/romantic partner/employee, the people who have you are fortunate, is really nice.
"You're So Intuitive"
"I am? Because are we sure this is right?! There's no one here to tell me so I don't know, but if you say so then thank you!"
"You're A Good Friend"
Sometimes, on paper, moms make sh*tty friends — we can't make all the events you invite us to (or any of them), we forget something, we're late, and we usually can't stay too long. But I promise that, more often than not, we're really trying hard to kill it in the friend department. And if someone sees that effort and can accept us for what we're able to give at the moment, I promise you it means a lot.
"Your Hard Work Is Paying Off"
Personally, I feel like some of my best parenting was a marathon, not a sprint. I couldn't see the finish line and, honestly, the idea of an endpoint could have easily been a myth. You just can't really and truly know that something is going to get better, but you keep at the process just in case. But, slowly, over months or years, you can begin to see the fruits of your labors.
If you see a moms long-game panning out, compliment her on her perseverance.
"Your Kids Are Awesome"
It always gives me the warm fuzzies to know that people like my kids. I mean, I think they're awesome and whether or not someone is awesome is not dependent upon anyone else's approval, but it's nice to know that other people think your kiddos are kickass, too.
Just Sing An Empowering Feminist Anthem At Them
Who doesn't want to hear someone croon "Flawless" or "Rebel Girl" at literally any time? Come on now.
"That [Thing You Just Did] Is So Smart"
Again, when we focus on our screw ups we can't always acknowledge our own every day brilliance unless someone else points it out.
"You Handled That Really Well"
There's always someone who will tell us if they think we didn't do this thing right or that thing the right way, so go ahead and feel free to counteract those jerks by validating our choices and letting us know that we were right to follow our instincts.
Everyone needs to be reminded sometimes.
"You're Just As Witty/Smart/Fun/Brilliant/Etc. As Ever"
Remember when I said that sometimes it can be hard to maintain a personal sense of identity once you have kids? Sometimes it's because you feel like you've changed (and maybe you have) but other times it's because you haven't but other people don't recognize the aspects of you that have always made you... you. Letting someone know that they've "still got it," whatever "it" may be, can be extremely empowering.
"You Are #MomGoals"
Feel free to say or not say the hasthtag in there... or even the phrase Mom Goals, for that matter. If you have a better way to convey the idea that a person is worthy of emulation in the parenting department that's just fine by me. After all, it's the thought that counts.
"Can I Ask Your Advice?"
It may not seem like a compliment, but the idea that I am someone anyone would turn to for advice, let alone someone I respect, is amazing. It gives me the confidence to think, "OK, maybe I have got this."