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.
“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?