In Search of Praise

My mom was great at giving compliments. And it wasn’t just superficial. Her praise went deeper. “Missy, you’re so much more confident than I ever was.” “Missy, you have such poise when you walk up on stage.” “Missy, your smile lights up a room, just like Grandma Rose’s used to.”

Best of all was: “Missy, I’m so proud of you.”

It didn’t stop there. Compliments usually led to celebrations. Dinners out at Tofu, my mom’s favorite Chinese restaurant. Surprises of waking up to Dunkin’ Donuts chocolate croissants – my ultimate craving as a kid. Shopping trips to pick up “a little something” from the Gap.

Hugs accompanied each milestone. Big bear hugs that smushed my face into her bosom until my muffled voice yelped, “Ma! You’re suffocating me!”

So on days like today, when a nagging sense of feeling unappreciated keeps popping into my head, I yearn for her compliments. Sometimes I imagine them in my head. Other times I feel like I can really hear her voice saying them, as if she is communicating with me somehow. What I would give for one phone call. Ring, ring, and then her enthusiastic, “Hi, Miss!” Instead, I just try to sit still and listen. And eventually I can hear it.

Or I do pick up the phone. I call Laura, my best friend and most sincere cheerleader. I call my Dad, and we talk about what we’re each doing that day. I call Aunt Sherry, because I know 38 minutes into the conversation she will say how much she misses my mom. Sometimes all I need to know is that someone else longs for her, too.

Who do you turn to for compliments or support? Who are your life lines?