Friday, August 23, 2013

Lies Moms Tell

“The truth is messy. It's raw and uncomfortable. You can't blame people for preferring lies.”
                                                                                          ― Holly Black

The school year begins on Monday.  It's time for that Mom flurry of activity.  We buy the school clothes and all the supplies according to the list.  We ensure that healthy snacks are stocked in the pantry and that bedtimes are adhered to.  Hair is shorn and shoes are purchased.

Well, MOST moms are doing that.  I'm currently THINKING about purchasing supplies.  I think we have some pencils stuffed into the junk drawer in the kitchen.  And I'm almost positive there is some non-wrinkled notebook paper under the used gift bags in the hall closet.  They had haircuts a few weeks ago and I'm pretty sure they still fit the shoes on their feet.

Backpack for back to school
A backpack from
There was a time when I was a really good mom.  I purchased EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. on the school approved supply list at least two weeks prior to the start of school.  I was careful that Things 1 and Things 2 received the American Pediatric Association's recommended daily allowance of sleep after scarfing their vitamins.  I woke them early and ensured they had a hearty breakfast before I drove them to school.  I looked at the teacher wish lists and purchased items for the classroom.  I signed up for volunteer work where and when I could and I was sure to email teachers prior to the beginning of school to let them know some of the quirks they would be dealing with for Things 1 and 2.

And then I got tired.  Thing 1 is 13 years old.  Crikey, that's a long time to be on your toes.  And I'm sure some moms can still do it but, for me, 13 years is a really long stretch to be a high achiever.  I'm more of a coaster these days.

Truth be told, I think more moms than you realize are coasting behind the scenes.  Oh, they may LOOK like they have it together with their Lilly Pulitzer hand bags and their shiny minivans.  But, I'll bet they have gum wrappers and grocery store receipts stuffed inside their purses and week-old french fries under the seats of the Town and Country just like yours truly.

And I won't say they (we?) LIE outright.  And I won't say that they (we?) don't have good intentions.  But, oh yes, they're tired just like me.  Here are the things moms say that you might want to watch out for:

  1. We always have a healthy family dinner.  Riiiight.  You're telling me that you don't pull out the corn dogs and mac n cheese every now and again?  'Cause I have to tell you, it takes 30 SECONDS to nuke a corn dog.  And you can make mac n cheese in under 10 minutes while you're nuking the corn dogs and mixing up some frozen lemonade.  For color, I throw a few spinach leaves on a plate.  BAM!  Dinner is served in less than 15 minutes. You know what's even FASTER?  McDonald's drive-thru.  Can I get an amen?
  2. My son/daughter finishes homework immediately after school.  Uh huh.  You're telling me that they NEVER say (conveniently at bedtime), "Oh, Mom, I forgot that I have to research the entire course of the Cold War AND write a 5 page report AND do a Powerpoint presentation and it's due tomorrow"?  That never happens in YOUR house, right?  My foot.
  3. We don't watch TV during the week.  I try this one a LOT.  And it does HAPPEN a lot.  But there are days when I don't think I can STAND to listen to any more bickering.  There are times when I really just don't want to DEAL with anyone while I figure out how to cobble together a dinner without having been to the grocery store in two weeks.  The TV can be MAGIC.  If you turn it on, minds turn to mush and they just SIT there, staring raptly.  It's a freakin' GIFT.
  4. I don't yell.  OK, I try REALLY REALLY hard not to yell.  And most of the time I don't even have the desire to.  But HERE'S how I get around it:  when they're upstairs, I yell.  "BOYS, I HOPE YOU'RE UP THERE DOING YOUR HOMEWORK!"  or "DO YOU WANT ME TO COME UP THERE?"  When they're in front of me, I get super quiet.  That's when their eyes get all round and scared.  "Huh oh.  Is THIS the time she's gonna snap?"
  5. We're just so busy. Don't get me started on busy.  We MAKE busy.  We're busy because we CHOOSE to be.  Life isn't busy.  It's that we schedule and book and sign up and volunteer and practice and play and we try to do everything.  And then we brag to other people about how busy we are.  Because THAT is the contest.  The busiest family wins, right?  Nah, I'm not buyin' it.
I realize that all moms are in competition.  It's just the way we're built.  When a mom walks in the room, we size her up and categorize her.  I've been there.  Work-outside-the-home moms huddle together, guiltily and miserably, because they don't remember anyone's name and they haven't been to a class party in six months while stay-at-home moms seem to make a point to greet each other warmly, "Why, SALLY, I haven't seen you since TUESDAY when we volunteered to staple leaves all over the halls!" Both groups circle each other, neither feeling accepted by the other.  And that's when the lies start.

But there's no need for us to make each other feel worse than we already do.  We all want the best for our families.  And most of us are out there doing the very best we can.  And, sometimes?  The best I can do is the bare minimum.

And that's all there is to it.  Let's get this 2013-2014 party started.

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