Words to live by

“You look nice, Mom,” my daughter’s voice greeted me as I descended the stairs yesterday. Taken by surprise, I quickly responded with appreciation for the compliment.

I had worn that outfit many times before; it certainly wasn’t anything special. Something, however, must have struck my daughter just right because she felt compelled to comment. And even though she suffers from no shortage of congenial expression, it still touched my heart. It lit up my insides for a good part of the morning.

The part I struggled to understand was why it had such a marked effect on me. If a coworker had said the same thing, I certainly would have shrugged it off with a quick thank you.

Somewhere in my process of analysis, it occurred to me that we often save compliments for people who are not as close to us. As our level of intimacy with a person grows, I’ve often found that these verbal punctuators fall by the wayside. Somewhere along the line, we begin to take our closest relationships for granted and we assume our best friends, family, lovers, and confidantes somehow just know we appreciate all the wonderful things about them. We forget that they need to hear them just like everyone else. No wonder I found my daughter’s compliment so touching.

I love it when my kids teach me lessons. Tell your best friend you appreciate her today. And your parents. And your kids. And everyone else you love. Words do matter.

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” –Mark Twain

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