I read an article years ago that said the best thing we can say to our child athletes is, “I love to watch you play.” It sounded nice and I even gave it a try with my nieces and nephews, but I never completely understood why that simple sentence was better than the typical good job, great hustle, or awesome play. Those were nice things to say, weren’t they?
A few weeks ago I shared a video of a funny conversation I had with my young daughter. A short while later a message popped up. I expected a heart emoji or a comment about how cute my kid is because duh, she’s adorable and friends tell friends how cute their kids are. But that’s not the message I received. Instead, I found a simple message that said, “I just love watching you be a momma.”
And it clicked. My friend didn’t praise me for the healthy meal I fed my child, the amount of time I spent teaching her that day, or the craft project that we completed. She didn’t compliment the schedule I managed to keep or the fact that we made our beds that morning. She didn't suggest I had it all together. She said, “I just love watching you be a momma.”
I felt zero pressure to perform or present for such praise in the future. I didn’t place my worth as a mother on how many noteworthy things I accomplished that day. Not once did the thought occur to me that if I worked harder, did better, or shared more I would be, or at least appear to be, a better mom. What did happen? I felt seen. Not because I made a great play or hustled all day. I felt loved simply for being me. I felt encouraged to keep showing up, keep trying, and keep loving my child.
"I just love watching you be a momma." That's the kindest thing another mom ever said to me.
For more stories of living happily in the awkward middle of live, love, and parenting, follow Happy Like This by Mandy McCarty Harris.