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?