I’ve been trying really hard to become more secure in my parenting. More secure in myself, really, but I’m really working on the parenting angle — like telling the world at large to bite me if they think my kids have too much screen time or they wear their mermaid outfit to the store. Whatever. I don’t care. I can roll my eyes and move on if someone mutters under their breath at my kids’ antics. I’m proud of myself for standing firm in my parenting choices when it comes to the negative outside forces.
What I wasn’t expecting was how I’d interpret a genuine compliment.
A newer mom friend of mine said the other day that I was “an easygoing parent” and I totally lost my shit, and not in a good way. I completely freaked out, thinking she was subliminally calling me lazy or a pansy or a subpar parent compared to her. My husband, calmly and maybe even a bit bemused, talked me down from that ledge and explained that what she said — I’m an easygoing parent — was exactly what she meant. There was no subtext, no innuendo. The words were what they were. Nothing more, nothing less.
So why did I freak out about such a simple statement? Because I don’t know how to take a compliment.
Whether it’s because of society or how we were raised or what we watch on TV, for some reason so many of us can’t believe that someone would say something genuinely nice about us or our kids. We downplay it. “Oh sure, they’re angels now, but you should’ve seen them yesterday.” Or we say “thank you” with our mouth, but in our heads, we’re thinking, “I don’t know what kids you’re talking about, but it certainly isn’t mine.”
I think many of us misinterpret compliments from friends and family and strangers alike. We find it hard to believe that when someone says our hair looks nice they really just mean our hair looks nice. They’re not saying we looked like shit yesterday. They’re saying that today, in this moment, we look nice. And instead of us trying to read between the lines or listen to some negative chatter in our heads, we just need to run our hands through our luscious locks, smile, and say “thank you.”
The same goes for parenting. If your mom says your kids were perfect angels for her when they stayed overnight, believe her. If someone says it’s adorable that your son dressed up like a pirate to go to the park, just go with it. If an older gentleman sees you trying to wrangle your kids away from knocking down a display at Target and tells you you’re doing a good job, let his words sink deep into your soul — breathe it in, and let it spur you on to continue doing the best job you can do.
Let’s all agree right now, in this moment, to start believing compliments, okay? Let’s choose to believe that when people compliment us, they mean it, and we should be proud of ourselves, our choices, our hair, our kids, our homes, our everything. We are women. We are incredible beings, made up of beauty, strength, grace, and fearlessness. And dammit, if someone sees some of that in us and has the urge to say something nice to us, then let’s choose to take it in and strut our stuff, ladies.
Starting today, when someone says something nice about me or my parenting, I’m choosing to hear it exactly as they said it, to tell the negative voice in my head to shut the hell up, and simply say “thank you.”
And then I’ll have an extra glass of wine, because I’m so obviously kicking ass at this parenting thing.