I took the kids out to lunch this week, where Forrest insisted we sit in a booth near an older lady who was eating alone. I noticed her sneaking peeks at the kids as we ate, and I kept thinking, “This lady is trying to enjoy her lunch in peace, and I sat right next to her with 2 noisy kids—we’re probably ruining her meal.”
So I did my best to keep the kids as quiet as possible, but those of you who have met my kids know that they don’t really do quiet. Darcy was hungry and whined angrily until our food arrived, then she was so happy to dig in that every bite she took started with a loud shout of excitement (if I were to spell it, it would go something like “yummmmBOP!!!”).
We had just left a playdate at a friend’s house, and Forrest was still on an over-excited playdate high. He chattered nonstop at his normal volume (which is constantly set at MAXIMUM BLAST), barely taking a breath while he went on and on about “my awesome fwiends!” and described each and every one of “their vewwy cool toys!!” to me.
At one point, he dropped his ice cream cone on the bench and burst into tears (thankfully, they were quickly resolved), and there were a few tense moments when he was highly displeased about Darcy stealing fries off his tray (and of course, she thought it was hilarious to make him mad and laughed maniacally each time she stole another bite—sometimes I wonder about that girl).
The kids were behaving about as well as I can expect them to—just being their normal, noisy young selves—but through it all, I kept noticing glances from the lady seated next to us and every time, I thought to myself, “She probably wishes we had chosen a different place to sit—I hope we aren’t bothering her too much.”
When she got up to leave, she stopped at our table, and I had a quick flash of panic (“She’s going to tell me I need to keep my kids under control when we’re in public!”).
But then she said, “I just want to tell you what a beautiful family you have. I wish I could claim these two as my grandkids!” And as if that weren’t enough, she even complimented me on the way I was interacting with them—sure, I’ve gotten compliments on the kids before, but I’m not sure anyone has ever complimented me as a parent.
As the recipient of the occasional rude comment and countless glares from strangers during tantrums in the past, I could have cried over hearing someone say something so kind. I spent the rest of my day thinking, “You know what? We are a beautiful family, and these are beautiful kids, and I am so glad I have these tears and complaints and dropped ice cream cones to deal with, and maybe I am doing an okay job.”
Thinking back, most of the random kind comments I’ve received from strangers have come from elderly ladies (as did a rude one once, but statistically speaking, grandmas have been good to me).
I remember one woman stopping me when I was out with 6-month old Forrest to compliment his big blue eyes and show me pictures of her own grandkids. I remember another grandma when I was out with Forrest, who was throwing an awful tantrum in the middle of a store, commiserating with me about her own children throwing embarrassing tantrums years ago, too, and reassuring me that this would be a short-lived tough stage.
So this post is my public thank you to all the nice grandmas who have ever taken a moment to say a kind word to a mom. I think many mothers—myself definitely included—feel almost constantly judged and inadequate. Sometimes it comes from well-meaning (and sometimes not very well-meaning) fellow parents, or obnoxious articles online, or even just comparing ourselves to other moms on social media. In a world where many of us find it nearly impossible to feel confident and secure with our parenting, a kind, reassuring comment from a stranger means so much.
So thank you, nice grandmas (and thank you, also, to the honorary grandmas—people of any age or gender who take a moment to say something kind to a frazzled mom). I hope I meet many, many more of you as my kids grow . . . and I plan to be a nice grandma, too.