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!


When Honest People Lie

I consider myself an honest person.  When I’m given too much change or undercharged for a product, I speak up.  When I find a lost wallet, I turn it in.  If a bill payment is credited to me in error, I call the company to have it reversed.  If I make a mistake, I admit it, even when it’s embarrassing, or means my husband gets to gloat that he’s right.  I can even let a friend know that the skirt she tried on isn’t doing her any favors.  But when I’m put on the spot with no tactful exit in sight, I lie.  Before you label me a “hypocrite” and close this post in disgust, please hear me out.

I recently went to celebration of a child’s first communion and confirmation (on hubby’s side of the family).  I followed my hubby to a table where three other women sat, two of whom I recognized from previous gatherings.

As we ate, the young woman I didn’t know, who was in her early twenties, began telling of her journey as a Catholic in vivid detail.  My hubby went back for seconds (and thirds) and the girl continued her story.  I got up at one point to check on the kids and came back with more food.  One of the women had left, but the girl didn’t seem deterred.  A few minutes after I returned, my hubby’s aunt excused herself, leaving me alone to participate in the conversation.  (Not a good place for me, if you recall).

Girl:  “I bet they couldn’t wait to leave.  You’re probably looking for an excuse to go, too.”

Me:  <sheepishly glancing at my empty lemonade cup, which I had downed like an eight-ounce shot> “You’re funny.”

Girl:  “Am I funny, or am I right?”

Me:  “Oh, uh, funny.  I’m not going anywhere.”

That was enough for her to continue.  I felt guilty because I had lied.  I really did long to wander off somewhere to observe, but I wanted to avoid hurting her feelings more than I wanted solitude.  She was a nice girl, even if I wasn’t impressed by her “knowing more about Catholicism than many cradle Catholics.”  (I don’t think that knowing the ins and outs of any religion necessarily symbolizes a personal closeness with God.  An opinion I thought best to keep to myself.)

I’m not alone in truth-fudging for the benefit of others.  Yes, lying can be altruistic.  It’s forcing fostering kindness in the face of an increasingly rude society.  I’ve been on the receiving end of padded lies.  See for yourself:

Lie #1

Chiropractor:  “Did you work from home today?”

Me:  “Yes.  How did you know?”

Chiropractor:  “You’re not dressed up.”

Me:  <glancing down at my ill-fitting workout style clothes and remembering my unwashed hair held back in a claw clip. “Oh, yes.  I probably shouldn’t have left the house looking like this.”

Chiropractor:  <she shrugged, but wasn’t facing me> “You look comfortable.”

I snickered because I immediately grasped the hidden meaning behind her innocuous words:  “I wouldn’t walk my dog wearing that.

 Lie #2

Friend:  <after listening to my latest story idea> “You are so creative.”

Another chuckle, because I know the comment masked the words that couldn’t be said:  “You are so frighteningly bizarre, you should probably be locked up.”

I hate to rely on the “everyone does it” argument to defend my own lies…but, well…they do.

Do you have any “kind lies” you’d like to share?  I hope so, because they are so much fun!

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Last week, listening to the radio on my way to work, I heard about a recent study published in Psychological Science. It suggests that parents exaggerate joys of parenthood to justify the big investment.  This got me thinking (you know this means trouble, right?)  If this study is true, then everything I knew about myself is based on, well, a lie.

It all starts with the (self-perceived) fact that I am not good at telling lies, which is why I aim to be truthful.  If this study is right, I’m a master liar and I didn’t even know it.  This single truth changes the whole foundation of my life.  I could be selling vials of water from the fountain of youth to those desperate to halt the aging process.  I could prey on others’ weaknesses and amass great wealth.  But, wait, there’s more…

No, there’s not.  That’s not me at all.  I’ll be honest with you (really, I am a truthful person):  having kids is the most wonderful pain in the neck I’ve ever had.

There are times of love so great that I can’t even put it into words:  when they share their day’s fun with wide-eyed excitement; snuggle into me when they are scared and need comforting; grin with pride when they are praised; or when they fling their arms around me in a tight hug and tell me they love me without any prompting.

Now, for the other side of the coin:  there are times when they tell me I’m mean in a hateful voice; pull away from my hugs; refuse to look at me when they are angry and sass back when I remind them about their chores.  Oh, and then there is their fighting.  Remember, kids aren’t like dogs; you don’t need a second one to keep the first one company.

There are some days when the thought “What. Was. I. THINKING?” runs through my mind like a stock exchange ticker tape.  Then, as if the kids sense that they, too, are hanging from the end of my rope, they will turn on the charm once again.  Yes, they nudge me over the cliff (metaphorically speaking) and then reach their hand out to grasp me before gravity pulls me into a free-fall.

The good and the bad are swirled together like the vanilla and chocolate in a marble cake. There is no way to extract either one of the flavors.  Sure, I get frustrated, but I would never change it.

So, there you have it.  I’m not a liar…I’m a masochist.