I know common mommy lies are often seen as just something people do, often because they're afraid someone will judge them (everyone judges folks, just FYI) or think less of them or even admonish them for a choice. And it seems innocent enough, when the new mom on the playground asks if your toddler eats veggies. Your mind says, Only if they're hidden! but you say out loud, "Yeah, no problem at all."
By omitting details and not being entirely honest, you may feel like you're making yourself feel better, but chances are, you just made that mom feel a lot worse.
Mommy lies are one of the big things that made Mommyhood difficult.
It may seem like it's not that big of a deal, but when you get into serious conversations, such as postpartum depression, moms who refuse to admit they experience it or to what degree really alienate moms who are feeling that way. The more women who come out and say, "Yeah, when my baby was little, I had some serious postpartum depression and even some awful thoughts about hurting the baby. It scared me, but I'm glad I had people to turn to" is not going to be a negative reflection on you. But it may just be the admission that makes another mom who felt horrid guilt about those thoughts or struggles to admit it and won't get help because she doesn't want to admit it realize that her feelings ARE OKAY. There are people out there she can turn to who WON'T judge her or call her names.
We've got to be honest with ourselves, first and foremost, and then with other moms. I've fed my 18-month-old really bad fast food once. Yes, seriously. The ingredients freak me out, I know it's horrible, it's nutritionally void, and filled with chemicals, and it's total trash, and I could have gone somewhere else and gotten different food. And yet, I'm not afraid to say I did take her once. Why? Because I'm being completely honest, both in knowing it's bad for her and admitting I did it and don't feel that bad because it was one time, incredibly rare. Also, I'm emotionally honest enough to admit that it was unhealthy, but know that I also spend the REST of my time trying really, really hard to feed her as good as I can.
That's important because we can have frank talks then about the chemicals in fast food and why it's unhealthy, and healthy eating at home and the importance ... without vilifying people who do eat crap occasionally, and without sacrificing an honest discussion about the benefits of healthy eating.
Even in less heavy conversations, like "How many words does your 18-month-old say?" people are usually looking for answers to help themselves gauge their own child's development. If every single mom starts playing the one-up game, then the conversation is useless and a bunch of people whose children are on the lower end of acceptable development are left worried that their child is abnormal. Just a simple exaggeration really is a terrible thing to do to other moms, and ruins the "community support" goal. I mean, aren't mom networks about support from common ground? That common ground includes common struggles.
When moms aren't honest with themselves, or honest with other people, you make it much more difficult for other moms to know what's normal, what's acceptable, and for them to feel like they can be honest as well. It spawns a lot of defensiveness, a lot of denial, with very little gain. You'll actually find the more honest you can be with your mom friends, the more comfort you'll get from talking to them. After all, are they really your friends if you feel the need to lie about how you get your toddler to eat vegetables? Probably not. And for all you know, one of them is struggling with the same issue and you both could really help each other out, but you have to be honest in the first place, with yourself and them.
In my experience, this sort of personal and social dishonestly is often the source of the majority of Mommy Wars, competitions, and arguments. If people could just admit that motherhood isn't easy, there are things you don't know, and things you do but sometimes don't always have the energy to care about, we'd find we have a lot more common ground with a lot more moms, and have a lot bigger support system than we thought.
Are you really honest when you talk about your kids?
Image via Tayrawr Fortune/Flickr