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Monday, October 7, 2013

The Top 3 Things You Should Say to a Mother

I am constantly shocked amazed by the questions and comments that come out of the mouths of complete strangers. Sometimes I wonder when I am out in public with my four children if there is a sign on me that reads "Please ask me anything at all. I have all the time in the world. The more personal the better. Please share how perfect your children were. I would love your advice."

I'm sure that it is with all good intentions, but sometimes there seems like there might not be a lot of filtering that happens when people speak to mothers. I'm sure the same is true for fathers but I'm also positive that if my husband was out solo with the four kids that people wouldn't be asking him "natural or in vitro?" or "c-section or vaginal?" so I'm aiming this for the ones with the uterus. I want to help you well meaning strangers who want to chat with our child-bearing selves. There are definitely wonderfully gracious things you can do and say to a mother that won't insult her but could possibly even make her day. And if you can't say something nice, please just walk away. Ignoring is always better than making a mother feel either ungrateful or that she's failing at this whole life.

So when you pass a mother who is out in the world with a child having a full body tantrum in the cereal aisle, here are three things that would be lovely for you to say to her (feel to word them in your own personal way; kindness is the key):


  • You look great. See how that sounds different from "you look tired." Mommas are not often complimented on their appearance, especially when they are out with their children. You saying that could quite possibly be the highlight of her day. Trust me.

  • Your children are beautiful. Sometimes we need to remember that all children are miracles. And they are beautiful. This compliment will not only keep that in perspective for your benefit but help that overworked mom remember "Oh yeah. They really are beautiful." It makes all the crazy seem more manageable when we are reminded of the pure miracle of it all.

  • Can I help you with that? Here is the scene: she has one kid hanging on the side of her cart, one sitting inside of it making Cheerios fly and one baby crying in her bjorn and she's trying to heave a 52 count case of water anywhere it will fit in her overflowing cart so it won't crush the Cheerio thrower and you are inches away, eyes transfixed at the scene. If you have a moment (please don't offer if you don't, that would just be mean) take a deep breath and ask her if you can help her with that. She most likely is going to say "No thanks. I've got it." She secretly wants to be superwoman which is why she needs to buy so much water to stay hydrated. But she might just say yes and want to hug you for your generous offer. The point is that you offered. There is nothing slight about that.

I once had this angel of a woman approach me with absolute patience and asked me if she could follow me through the store and push one of my carts. (Yes- two carts. One to cart the children, one to cart the food = a walking ad for birth control). She said she had no where she needed to be and she was happy to offer a hand. Even though this was one of the most sincere and beautiful offers of help that I have ever received, I didn't take her up on it. I just couldn't put her through the four inevitable trips to the bathroom that were about to occur. But I don't forget that she offered. And that she saw past the crazy of it all and sensed that I could use a hand instead of judgement. Opening doors and offering assistance to strangers is a small way of showing the very large and happy idea that we have one another's back in this wild world. I hope that one day when I'm shopping alone that I, too, will channel my inner angel and help a sister out. 
And maybe even give her a Starbucks gift card. That would really be the ultimate stranger gesture.

Let's pay it forward lovelies...

xoxo

Katie 





4 comments:

  1. I had a lovely one the the other day...while at Trader Joes this sweet older lady stopped and told me that she could tell I truly enjoyed my children. Such a nice thing to hear (when I wasn't even really on my game! Just trying to keep them from running their little carts into someones' heels!)...because I do enjoy my children...most of the time!

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    1. Oh I love that so much Anne... that is a fabulous compliment and oh so well deserved. It is a beautiful thing to see mommas enjoying their babes and even greater when we point it out to each other.
      xoxo

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  2. The assistant in my son's class told me I always looked so nice and pulled together and said she marveled at how effortlessly I handled three little ones. Of course I'm not always pulled together and often require a ridiculous amount of effort to manage my little balls of fire, but her words stick with me. Someone else actually thinks I've got it together!

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    1. You go Elizabeth! What a fabulous compliment. Being pulled together each day with having "little balls of fire" (love this) is nothing short of a miracle. You deserve that praise momma... congrats to you-
      xo

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