Most moms know the struggle of receiving unsolicited parenting advice. It comes at us hard, fast, and often, like a fighter jet in a Tom Cruise movie from the '80s. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are the unexpected words of encouragement and the compliments that we sometimes get from strangers, acquaintances, and loved ones. These kind words stay with us, I've noticed. In fact, a number of moms shared the best compliment they've ever gotten on their parenting, because the good stuff tends to stick with us (and usually gets us through the tougher mom days ahead).
My favorite parenting compliment came from a stranger at a restaurant when my son was in that stage that's still half-baby, half-toddler. We had a full table with him, me, his dad, and his grandmothers from both sides of the family. Plus, we were celebrating a birthday, so it wasn't exactly a short and quick meal. He wasn't acting up or being fussy, but he did demand a lot of attention, and us adults had to take turns letting him walk around in the lobby, entertaining him in the various ways that one does in a nice restaurant in which you really don't want to make a scene.
At the end of the long, and somewhat tiring meal, an older woman came up to me. I half-expected her to say that he'd been distracting or that our constant game of jack-in-the-box was disruptive to their meal, but she actually marveled at him and said it was clear that "he is so loved." As you can imagine, I had warm fuzzy feelings for days. With that in mind, here's what some other moms had to say on the same topic:
"'You were meant to be a mother.' I was told I looked so natural, comfortable, and confident with my son. It was amazing to hear, after struggling and feeling like a hot mess for the first few months!
And about 10 years before I became a mom, I was out with my goddaughter who was probably 2 at the time. She was eating a blue lollipop and making a mess, and a woman actually complimented me on letting her enjoy her treat and make a mess!"
"I was at the grocery store with my youngest, chatting with an employee. I forget exactly what prompted it, but at one point he said, 'You're doing such a good job. I see you every week, and you're a wonderful mother.'"
"One time my husband and I took all three kids out for lunch and it was chaos. I could feel my temper rising and it wasn't that enjoyable. Everyone had an issue with something and nobody could sit still for long. Then as we got up to leave at the end, an elderly couple sitting next to us stopped us to go on and on about how our kids were so well behaved and we were doing such a good job raising our kids. My husband and I got into the car and mutually agreed that was the most vital thing we needed to hear at the moment."
"I had to be induced a month early because [my daughter] wasn't growing. She ended up coming home with me, needing no NICU time. Someone told me that she was doing so well because I took such good care of myself, and her, while pregnant."
"Just last week a woman at Trader Joe's stopped me and asked me what my secret was. She went on to say that my girls were so happy, kind, and wonderful little people and I must have a secret. I could only say, 'I let them be themselves and celebrate that.' She then declared me mom of the year. I'm not convinced she wasn't on psychedelics."
"The same day I lost my 3 year old at Kohl's on a Saturday during Christmas and left in hot scared tears when she was found, I received a redeeming compliment from a stranger. We were so frazzled and spent, so we gathered up all our tricks, books, crayons, and quiet toys and went to a restaurant for dinner. Our daughter was well behaved, sweet and charming much to our relief. As we were packing up the lady at the table next to us stopped me and said, 'You're doing a great job.' And then the tears started all over."
"'You have the happiest children. They are smiling every time I see them. Good job.' I get this one a lot from the various local stores we frequent. And to me, happy children is the most important thing!"
"Honestly, whenever we see friends who have known us forever, the ones who really know us, who don't sugar coat anything about our lives and feel no need to humor us, spend time with the kids and say, 'Good job, they are awesome." It gives me such joy and pride to know that our friends enjoy our kids."
"When my youngest (now 4) was about 6 months old, we went to dinner with her, my then just-turned 2 year old, and 3 year old. Some people came up to our table to tell us how well-behaved the kids were and what great parents we were.
Also, I was on vacation with my mom and grandmother this past week and the kids. After riding in the car with the kids for almost 12 hours and spending five straight days with them, both my mom and grandmother told me multiple times how amazing the kids are, with great attitudes and manners. They acknowledged that my husband helps a lot (they love him) but also said I'm the one spending the majority of time with them so that was a credit to what an outstanding job I was doing. It felt really awesome to have the two most influential women in my life tell me that I was a good mom."