Maybe Matilda: To all the nice grandmas

Friday, February 13, 2015

To all the nice grandmas

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.


  1. :) :) :) Perfect.

    And btw, when did the header change? Love it--Homebody Happiness? You better copyright/trademark/whatever you're supposed to do to claim that stuff because that's pure awesome.

  2. Thank you! My sister updated it yesterday afternoon. It took a looooooong brainstorming session to come up with that tagline. I kept trying to think of some unifying theme for all my posts and all I could think of was the fact that everything I write is all just sort of homebody stuff that I enjoy doing :-P

  3. Hooray for the nice grandmas! I got harangued by a not-so-nice not-grandma yesterday who called me stupid to my face approximately ten times because I let Lila ride in the back of the cart. I've been kind of down since and was really happy to read your post this morning and be reminded that there are a lot of nice people, too. Also, I agree--you do have a beautiful family.

  4. That is the WORST! I feel like 1 negative comment is strong enough to outweigh 20 nice ones. Some people just never learned that 'if you don't have anything nice to say...'

    I had a lady once give me a hard time about Forrest cuddling his blankie and sucking his fingers in the cart while we were out shopping. "Isn't he too old for that sort of thing?" And he was only about 18 months at the time. I wonder what she would have to say about it now that he's 4 1/2 and still doing the exact same things :-P

    You are an awesome mom--don't let that comment bug you too much! (Big words from me, someone who will agonize over a comment like that for weeks at a time.)

  5. Love this! We've had a few nice grandmas stop us in the grocery store or at a restaurant too. I told my husband that I'm going to a nice granny too and make sure to stop all of the young moms and tell them they're doing a great job!

  6. Aw how sweet! And you do have a beautiful family!:)

  7. It's always so encouraging to get a nice word!

  8. It makes me so happy when my kids get honorary grandpas and grandmas when we're in public. This morning I took G to the grocery store. He pushed a woman's cart and nearly hit her with it. I thought, "Lord Jesus, help this boy. This could get ugly!" Luckily, the woman was really nice about it. She fawned over him and told him he must be really strong to have pushed her cart. Bless her.

    What gets me is that most of these old ladies get it. They've been there. Their children probably acted like trolls at some point, whether at the grocery store or in a church pew. Yet they give us nasty looks when our kids are a bit overexcited about something. I wish I were half as excited about things as my kids are.

  9. We had the 50s and 60s through most of January. It was lovely! And then February arrived and it's winter again.

  10. Awwww... I love this so much.

    I have become more and more aware of how much a kind word can do for anyone - and especially as a mom. =)

  11. That is so sweet! I feel like I get the nastiest looks from moms whose kids are probably teenager/college age (and they've probably forgotten what having little kids is like), then the nicest ones are the grandmas with young grandkids (who have been reminded again what it is like).

  12. Nice grandmas/granddads are wonderful. We get a lot of elderly people here---Winter Texans (because who else would actually want to live here other than in the "winter"?) and I love it when they're here. So many people are meeeeeean. Like you said, there are plenty of mean ones, but statistically, there are a lot of knowing, wise and kind ones around. :) Your little story made me tear up.

  13. Kayyyy I'm so excited for you and a little bit jealous!!! I assure you, the Utah Valley Half IS BEAUTIFUL and they put on a great race! And it sounds like you picked a great year as far as weather! I had the same luck when I ran mine and whew the weather made training so much easier. I'm one of those weirdos that enjoys running, but I was the same as you in the fact that I hadn't ever run many miles at one time. I stuck to 5ks and the most I had ever run at one time was 8 miles, and that was a one-time deal. I just didn't have a reason to run much more. I still think that sticking (as best you can----there are bound to be adjustments made) to your training schedule, you will slowly build up to it and you will be amazed at what you can do!! I came to really love the long runs. They take a lot of time since you are supposed to take them relatively slow, but once I got over being anxious about that, I came to enjoy them. Especially if you have something good to listen to. GOOD LUCK!!!! I look forward to hearing your race day story, as there is always a story, HEHEHE!

  14. Aww, you teared up? It's like you're pregnant or something :-)

  15. This comment makes me feel SO much better! I feel like it's at least partly mental--the farthest I have ever EVER run is 5 miles, so I've got that in my head as the absolute peak of performance that I couldn't ever possibly go above. Baby steps, right? :-)

  16. Yes, it totally is!! If you like online forums for advice and support, I loved the ones on runners, they have beginners running thy heir first race etc.

  17. I'm always relieved to hear stories like this - we need to be a little bit more compassionate and understanding about children out and about. I would much rather listen to noisy children (even crying ones or those having a tantrum) than music (of any genre) over a speaker. Children at least are real and responding to life around them. I have never yet encountered a parent who is not sensitive to the effect of their children's behaviour on those around them.


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