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Mum and Dad

To any mom who can't take a compliment

To any mom who can't take a compliment


Melissa Willets

posted in Parenting

Yesterday afternoon in the preschool pickup line, a friend gave me a compliment on my outfit: “I love those pants.” And here was me: “Oh, I wear them like, every day. They’re from Target. Blah.”

Like always, when anyone compliments me, I immediately default into self-degradation mode. My mom tells me my hair looks good, I’m all, “I haven’t even washed it lately.” My husband sweetly says I’m beautiful, and I retort, “I guess you like the unshowered, haggard mom look.”

I don’t know why I do it. Bad habit?

But in all seriousness, I left school wondering why I can’t take a compliment. Why am I so resistant to anyone saying anything nice about me? My best guess is, as a mom, I am always so focused on my kids, when the attention shifts to me, I grow uncomfortable.

But a stranger’s recent praise made me rethink my automatic reaction to something nice being said about me. It happened at CVS of all places, while I was getting a flu shot. My 4-year-old daughter accompanied me as my support person. The pharmacist had just ushered us behind a privacy curtain to administer the injection.

She had me sit in a chair, and then knelt down to clean my arm, at which point I joked my daughter was afraid we were here for her. “But you already got your flu shot, right honey?” I prodded my little one, who was adorably closing her eyes in preparation for my shot.

Moms can't take a compliment

“Mommy is brave,” the pharmacist assured my daughter. Before her words so much as settled in the air, I felt the urge to respond, “No, this is nothing!” But then, I stopped myself. And I let her compliment stand.

Because I am brave.

This past summer, I lost a baby late in pregnancy. It was crushing, and there were times I wanted to die, too. But I’m still here.

Then a few months after the loss, I began a grueling cycle of IVF in the hopes of having another baby. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, not to mention physically draining. I have pushed my mind and body beyond anywhere I thought I could journey. But I’m facing it.

Every day, I also face people in my town who know my tragic story. I want to hide, and it’s brutal. I still struggle to make eye contact with the moms at school who saw me pregnant with my daughter, and who see me now, without her. But I get out of bed each day, and I keep going.

So yes. I am brave. And although the pharmacist could not have known how much I needed to hear those words, after everything I’ve been through, I felt proud of myself for not reverting into self-deprication mode. I let the compliment settle in, and I accepted it.

In the end, it felt good not make excuses when someone said something nice about me. Hopefully, I can do this again. When my husband tells me I’m pretty. Or when a friend says she likes my outfit.

Maybe I can let praise lift me up, and even assure myself that, “Yes, these pants are kinda cool.” Because if I can accept that I’m brave, it shouldn’t be too hard to believe that my hair might look nice one day, or that just maybe, I am pretty.

Do you have trouble taking a compliment?

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