The deceit of our lives


More than once recently my daughter has voiced her concern about how much, and how often, the young mothers of her acquaintance lie about their babies, or their lives. Perhaps lie is not quite the word, maybe pretend or self-delude are more appropriate descriptions of what she feels is taking place.

Their babies all sleep through the night, never cry. Mothers are all coping wonderfully, and life is just perfect. It is only when Daughter opens up and declares that they have sleep issues, or some other life hiccup that the truth tumbles out. Or, the mother that is obviously not coping, but refusing to ask for help, or even discuss, disappears from the group as her world closes down.

The same thing happened when our children were small. Everyone had a child that graduated with top marks, they were all perfect sleepers, no behaviour issues; on and on the list of the many attributes of the wonder kid went on.

It isn’t just about our children that we deceive though is it? No one has credit card debt, they all “own” those latest model cars that they replace every two years. No one ever applies for a job, they are all head hunted and offered three times the salary normally attached to that profession. Romance abounds in the marriage, date night is fantastic, never a night of falling asleep on the couch just glad to have time to sit in the same place for awhile. The sex, oh my, the sex is unbelievable! Unbelievable all right, especially when their visiting 8 year old tells you that they still climb into Mum and Dad’s bed every night!

No one buys take away, we all bake our own bread, grind our own spices. I spin my own cotton and weave our linens from organic cotton grown on the eastern side of the Himalayan Mountains by a small group of celibate Tibetan monks.  Of course, I can only do this between 3 and 4 am on a Thursday, because the other nights I work as a telephone counsellor for men who had their Teddy Bears taken from them at the age of eleven. The Blogosphere is a great perpetuator of such deceits.

Why do we feel this pressure to present a perfect front? When did it become shameful to admit that life is tough, that our children struggle sometimes, that relationships need work? Why do young couples expect to start life together in a house with everything?

Why do we do this to ourselves, and why do we do it to others? We do judge others don’t we? How many of us have not momentarily delighted in hearing that someone is having work issues, or their husband is cheating on them, or their child has actually spends more time with the school counsellor than in the classroom? It makes us feel even better to appear as though we never have such issues.

But we do, everyone does; at sometime and somehow real life hits bumps. It is reality that most of us are a “have not” rather than a “have” in some area. Maybe we would all feel a lot less stressed if we were just a little more honest with others, and maybe with ourselves as well?


16 thoughts on “The deceit of our lives

  1. We found this deceit quite early on as parents. Like everyone, we indulged for a while but found we benefited more from telling it how it is rather than trying to present this front.
    Real life is harsh and hard and full of challenges and it is easy to present a perfect front to pretend we’re coping. The blogosphere is rife with writers who hide behind a facade of well being.
    I feel that real life is best coped with by sharing and sometimes just by venting. Having a friend who can listen is usually better than having one who advises. Blogs do this for me. That’s not to say I don’t get the occasional kick up the butt from people who comment.


  2. Pingback: WYSISWG | Dave's (almost) Daily Drivel

  3. I brag wuite a bit about my kid in my blog. I know that i come out as the picture perfect woman in a pp world. I an not lying when i brag. I am merely selective, I feel uncomfortable talking about my problems to people. In reality, my pp kid has all the features of a tween and my marriage does hit bumps every now and then. Does not writing about them make me decietful? Mmmm. Food for thought.


  4. Truth, FD. Truth. And it is hard to face sometimes. Reading what others say or listening to them can make us fell “less” a person.


  5. I think our society perpetuates that myth of perfection. We must all be forever young and beautiful with perfect children, which means we are perfect parents. Being a fallible human is not permitted. Sad, isn’t it? We add so much stress to our lives when we fall into that trap.


  6. love it! I am blessed with friends and co-workers who share, and sometimes overshare, the details of their daily lives with me (to the point that I keep files of some, just in case I need to refer them for child protection services, ha ha – kidding). Life is hard and amazing – not a competition. Unfortunately, few people who live this lie will see themselves in your post – because no one would even think this about them. As for me, the drama only makes blogging funnier.


  7. In traditional East Asian culture you’re considered a whiner or a person of weak character if you admit to others that your life is filled with sorrow, or a member of your family is having trouble with something. Of course, if you boast about how perfect your children, your spouse, home, etc. are, you’re regarded as a blowhard. It’s considered far more admirable to be stoic: button it up, stiff upper lip, don’t let people know that your heart is breaking inside. When my father was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery to remove a baseball-sized tumor, he told me not to let anyone know about it, not even the minister of his church or his own sister. “What if they call and you’re still in the hospital?” I asked in disgust. “Tell them I have the flu!” he snapped. Of course I didn’t say that—it was just ridiculous to hide this kind of news from family and people who mattered. But my father was convinced that there was something shameful about his having cancer and continued to lie to people about it.

    In Western culture, I also think there’s this almost Puritan idea that one shouldn’t admit to others one’s private sorrows, at least to casual acquaintances or coworkers, lest you appear to be too familiar or fishing for sympathy. I certainly don’t want coworkers to know of my financial troubles, though I don’t lie and say I’m planning to replace my beat-up old Toyota with a Mercedes. 😉


  8. Oh yes. It comes with the stretch marks I think. My best friends are those who are honest about their kids, farts and all. But so many superficial ones exist, until – like you say – wham, they are bankrupt or divorcing which is such a surprise as they have maintained the air of perfection throughout.
    It is tiresome to deal with IMO – I have far less time for the surreal world some of these parents maintain.


  9. Pingback: The Myth of Perfection | Wanderings of an Elusive Mind

  10. This is a fascinating topic. How afraid many of us are to show our shadow sides, to put our pain out in public. To voice what feels wrong. What is challenging. I love reading honest posts like this. Sometimes I feel like I focus so much on what is amazing and extraordinarily ordinary and not enough on what hurts, what feels off. Usually I save that for my close friends and family.


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