Saturday Compliments

Shemiah Woodward

My kids and I found ourselves unexpectedly waiting in a line on Saturday morning for a planned activity. The day was nice, although windy, and the people around were generally in good spirits. There were two ladies, they looked to be more into the grandma years, standing in front and behind us. We all exchanged compliments, talked about the weather, how none of us expected a line, but we were thankful it wasn’t yet snowing since we were outside. They talked to my children and asked general questions, commenting on how their children were now grown. 

A few moments of silence would pass, then someone would make a comment and the conversation would once again pick up. I was taken back after such a silence when one of the ladies complimented how well-behaved my children were. I politely said “Thank you. We try to remember we’re raising little adults, and they will need to function in society one day.” They both nodded and said, “You are so right.” The lady who initially complimented me patted my arm and said, “You’re doing a good job Mama.” I said, “Thank you.” Then I stopped and stared at her and said, “You actually have no idea how much that means, thank you.” The line kept moving and we parted ways. I’ll probably never see either of those women again. But that encounter has stuck with me. 

I have wondered why those compliments meant so much. Was it because it was from a complete stranger? Was it because they were fellow mamas? Did their age make the comment more impactful? I interact with fellow mamas all the time. We give each other knowing glances or state how tired we are. We sigh as our children pull us in another direction or give a knowing glance as we once again say to our children, “no, you cannot have that.” . As I thought about that conversation, I realized it wasn’t just because the mamas were older. It wasn’t just because they happened to catch me and my kids on a good day. It was because they acknowledged me. They noted that the work I was doing raising kids was hard. They knew it was hard. They didn’t know that the day before, my kids and I had all been at odds with each other. They just saw and acknowledged the work and that it was good. 

Through this random encounter, I realized how much more I need to start complimenting other mamas. I might not have as much mom experience, but I can recognize a mama. Tell her she’s doing a good job. Remind her that in this moment, even if her kids are pulling the cereal boxes off the shelf, that she’s got this. Come alongside her and give her a boost -not in a commiserating way because let’s face it, we already commiserate a lot, but maybe our comments can be a little more helpful. How about – “I see you. I recognize you. You are valued. And you’re doing a good job.” 

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