Grand Illusions

My younger son wanted me to take pictures of his toy Camaro so it “looked real.”  Okay.  I had no idea how to take pictures of a toy so it looked like a real car, so I ignored the request, thinking it would go away. Hahaha.  Funny.  The request not only didn’t go away, it became more frequent and urgent.  Finally, after about a week, I took some pictures of it in front of their toy firehouse.  The bright primary colors of the firehouse didn’t scream “real” and the carpet under the tires, though dirty, wasn’t real enough.  So, we took it outside.

Yes, we took this prized toy Camaro outdoors.  I set it in the street, stretched out on my belly and began my photo shoot.  We took pictures from many angles…doors closed, doors open, back view, side view…you name it, we did it.  Cars drove by.  I’m sure people thought I looked strange, but I don’t care.  My son was beyond excited.

He wanted his car to look like something it wasn’t.  I can think of periods in my youth where I was the car.  I thought the right clothes would make me popular.  A different hairstyle (or a hairstyle at all) would make me likeable.  I wanted my outward appearance to cover up who I really was:  a shy, insecure girl who felt her personality wasn’t enough of a draw.

I’d like to say that image creating stopped with adulthood.  That’d be a lie, though.  I clean the house when I know someone is coming over.  Yes, I work, parent the kids, and my house is clean, too.  One of the kids experiences behavior issues (they tag-team this one).  Everything is going well.  Yes, the kids are good.  When someone asks how I am, I say fine even when I’m not.  Do you really want to know that I feel like crying right now?

I find it interesting that we all struggle, but we guard our troubles like a poker hand.  We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it all.  We refuse to acknowledge we could use a hand.  We don’t discuss the weak links in our lives.  Instead, we perpetuate the myth of control by projecting a false image.  Imagine how much more at ease we’d be if we allowed our flaws to see the light of day.  If we saw others struggled just as we do, wouldn’t we be freed from the pressure of living up to their image?

At least God knows where we are broken – we can’t hide that from Him.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been by refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  (Psalms 62:2-3)

 Have a beautiful Sunday!


23 thoughts on “Grand Illusions

  1. Tori Nelson November 18, 2012 / 4:49 AM

    What an awesome post and profound thought to come from such a little toy car! On most days I feel like I pretty much present myself just as I am. But I still have these moments I catch myself “primping” for who I am around. The cleaning house for guests, the waving off of personal issues and saying “everything’s fine”. I think you are right. By chasing a put together image we make it harder on ourselves and those around us. Everybody feels the need to look a little better, rub the rust spots off for company.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 8:34 PM

      Yeah, we see so-and-so seems to keep a spotless house…her kids’ clothes aren’t wrinkled…and she has the perfect marriage. I can feel inadequate when I fail to live up to that image. There’s always cracks under the veneer. No one has everything together. Not possible 🙂 Thanks for reading and relating, Tori!

  2. Yvonne Root November 18, 2012 / 4:54 AM

    First of all — the photo. Very well done, it does indeed look “real.”

    And secondly, the notion of being real. Your story is so true. We hope to perpetuate the illusion of control. And, how very silly of us. I had to stop and do a little head shake when I got to the part of cleaning house when guests are coming.

    My daughter still teases me that when she was being home schooled she knew which of two questions to ask.

    1. When I did a major sweeping clean of the house her question was, “Who is coming over?”
    2. When I applied makeup the question became, “Where are we going?”

    It is always good to have a small community where you can answer, “I feel like bawling my head off,” when that is the “real” answer. And, I’ve found that in a small community (like an in home Bible study group) once someone has had the courage to answer honestly then others are free to drop the mask also.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 8:43 PM

      Ha! Thanks – I’m glad the car looks real, Yvonne. Now, he wants the photos printed and framed. (Sigh!)

      It’s funny how we pick up on cues and can easily tell when something isn’t normal. When my mom put her shoes on, we knew we were going somewhere because she preferred to go barefoot. A small group that feels safe to let it all out is a good thing to have. Being the courageous one to open up isn’t always easy. I keep most of my stuff to myself because it’s just easier that way, for a variety of reasons 🙂

  3. nrhatch November 18, 2012 / 8:22 AM

    I’m pretty “real” most of the time, but . . .

    (1) I still straighten up for guests. Not to impress them that I’m in control, but to ensure their comfort. I don’t want them to feel unwelcome.

    (2) I don’t usually share my sorrows. Again, it’s not to impress others with my control, it’s because I’d rather be happy when I’m around others. Talking about my troubles (unless I believe the people I’m with hold a viable solution) seems counter-productive.

    Glad that you made your son’s car REAL for him. 😀

    • Catherine Johnson November 18, 2012 / 4:59 PM

      I agree with Nancy. There’s no change of subject to take your mind off your troubles if you tell everyone.

      • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 8:50 PM

        I can see how too many people knowing your business would result in too much discussion. I know I wouldn’t want that 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Catherine!

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 8:48 PM

      Good point about cleaning to make others feel at ease, Nancy. I must be selfish and self-centered, because my motivation has been to ease my embarrassment at the state of my house. 😳

      I keep most of my stuff to myself, mostly because I don’t want to be one of “those” people who always have some kind of drama going on. I’ve known people like that and after a while they make me want to run the other way when I see them (especially if I have my own issues going on at the moment.)

  4. Debbie November 18, 2012 / 9:17 AM

    Janna, the things we do for our kids! I can totally see you lying down to get a photo of your son’s car that makes it look REAL (by the way, you succeeded!) I’m pretty “real” most of the time, though I’m more real with some than with others, depending on how deep and long our friendship is. I suspect most of us tidy up before guests arrive, put on makeup and comb our hair when we go out, put on good clothes when we go to an occasion, etc. Maybe it’s not so much that we’re trying to cover up, as it is we’re trying to put our best selves forward (in hopes of bolstering our own confidence, perhaps?!) Anyway, great post — tell your son he’s got a fine looking Camaro there!

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 9:20 PM

      Hey, getting down on the ground wasn’t much of a problem. Getting up was interesting, though 🙂 Gotta love this age thing….my mind commits my body to things it can’t do so well anymore. I’m sure that most people don’t mean any harm by putting our best selves forward, but it often has the effect of others feeling like they need to be at the same level (and then there are the over achievers who go above and beyond and leave the rest of us feeling like we didn’t even try 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Debbie. I will let him know you like his Camaro. I’ll have his pictures printed this week, since I’m getting my Christmas cards prepped for Costco to do anyway.

  5. Tessa November 18, 2012 / 11:52 AM

    Janna, first the car looks great and real. I may not have noticed if you hadn’t mentioned it.

    This calls to me ——–>
    I find it interesting that we all struggle, but we guard our troubles like a poker hand. We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it all. We refuse to acknowledge we could use a hand. We don’t discuss the weak links in our lives. Instead, we perpetuate the myth of control by projecting a false image. Imagine how much more at ease we’d be if we allowed our flaws to see the light of day. If we saw others struggled just as we do, wouldn’t we be freed from the pressure of living up to their image?

    At least God knows where we are broken – we can’t hide that from Him.——->

    I just recently put my flaws out for the world (well my blog world anyways) to read. I am not afraid to admit my flaws and I hope by showing the world I can help someone who is struggling. I have mental issues and God made me that way. I am not ashamed. I hate it, but I am not ashamed of it.


    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 9:23 PM

      I remember the post you are referring to. It was very raw and personal and I do admire your courage for putting it out there (minus sugar-coating.) Blogs offer a release that we can’t get in everyday life. I write about things here that I don’t speak of to anyone in ‘real life.’ If they ever discover this blog, I’m going to feel so exposed 🙂

      I like what you say about the mental issues. We are made with our flaws for reasons we often don’t understand. It is okay to hate it – we don’t have to like everything – but you shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are. Thanks for visiting today and joining the discussion, Tessa!

      • Tessa November 18, 2012 / 10:23 PM

        My family and friends have access to my blog. I do think about what I post. My family and real life friends just lived through my trials. They needed to understand just how serious my condition is. I don’t think they really understood completely. I had been losing my cognitive skills, getting worse and worse, forgot how to type and my brain seemed to forget that spaces separate words. I had to stop righting, nothing cohesive was coming out anyway. I and family were starting to really panic. I was falling all over. One of the medications was downright dangerous. I am just coming out of the cognitive distress and getting the courage to write again.

        • jannatwrites November 20, 2012 / 5:08 PM

          I guess the blog is a good way to ‘tell’ friends and family without having to actually speak of the issues. I’m glad you’re coming back around. Medications and their side effects can be scary. Good luck as you get yourself back on track, Tessa!

        • Tessa November 20, 2012 / 7:17 PM

          Thanks Janna! Much better now! 😉

  6. pattyabr November 18, 2012 / 12:15 PM

    I was more insecure when I had a lot of people around me parenting me or whom I had to parent. Now that I don’t have that constant questioning of who I am, I am more secure. I struggled for years to keep balance from the battering I received from the world. By the time my son hit high school and on into college, I had to move into cocoon mode to survive.

    I think the sad thing is that we are all so busy in this world that it so difficult to support others and to find time to support ourselves.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 9:32 PM

      I’ve met a few parents of the boys’ friends. It’s funny, but whenever we are at each others’ houses, we always apologize for our messy homes. The kitchen is the only place in my home that is constantly cleaned to my standards. I hate that, but it is what it is.

      I agree that it is sad we don’t have a stronger support system. I have many acquaintances that I have more superficial conversations with, but only a couple people that I would discuss my troubles with.

      I’m glad you stopped by today and shared your perspective, Patty!

  7. Widdershins November 18, 2012 / 2:31 PM

    I think you really captured the Essence of Camaro! Nicely done.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 9:33 PM

      Thanks, Widdershins! Now, the dear child thinks he’s getting a real one when he’s sixteen. He’s got ten years to forget about it (’cause it’s not happening!) 🙂

  8. pattisj November 18, 2012 / 7:10 PM

    You did a great job with the car! You are such a cool mom. And I like the life lesson that came out of it, too. Life’s too short to stress over things that don’t matter much. Have fun, and be real.

    • jannatwrites November 18, 2012 / 9:35 PM

      I go between being cool and the meanest mom EVER (according to my kids :)) I think my true self lies somewhere in between. You’re right…life is too short (and it goes way too fast). Here’s to enjoying what we can, Patti!

  9. agjorgenson November 18, 2012 / 11:07 PM

    “We perpetuate the myth of control…” Yes, this is at the heart of problems both personal and political. Truth telling seems to be the path forward: control is a fiction and security an illusion. Thanks for a great post! aj

    • jannatwrites November 20, 2012 / 5:09 PM

      Great summation, Agjorgenson! I’m glad you stopped by to read this and ‘got’ the message 🙂

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