Hello!

I got in the lift after a long day at work. The last bit was unnecessarily long after some bright spark decided it would be an awesome idea to schedule a meeting for 5pm and then forget to let half the attendees know that it had been cancelled.

Earlier in the day my boss made me feel like a slacker until I rearranged childcare pickup so I could attend. The truth is, I had a terrible cold, my pelvic girdle pain was raging after nine hours in the office, and at almost seven months pregnant I was generally feeling hormonally challenged.

Just as the lift door was about to close, in jumped a colleague. She asked how my day was and I mustered the most positive voice I could: “yeah good, things are moving along really well with the strategy”. I asked her the same in return and got a similar response. It made me think though, did she really have a great day or was she just like me? The rest of the ride was silent and we parted politely at the bottom.

I don’t know about you but these exchanges happen around me all the time. With my closest friends, I feel comfortable in calling BS when I see it and they thankfully do the same in return before we have a more honest chat.

Generally though, I find this tendency to gloss over the bad and accentuate the positive is rife among women.

I’m not judging here – I’m deeply guilty of this habit too. So why the lies? Why is it so hard to resist the temptation to airbrush our everyday realities? We don’t have to go on an oversharing whinge rampage but isn’t there a more truthful middle ground?

If you don’t think there is a need for more truth in our lives, then I give you Exhibit A: Mummy Bloggers. Not the ones that fill Pinterest with their perfected photos of home life and craft that leave the rest of us wondering what we are doing with our time. No, the other bloggers – the truthful, slightly messed up ones that serve up equal amounts of humour and truth about raising children. Bloggers like Constance Hall and Bunmi Laditan, who are outrageously successful with followers numbering in the tens of thousands.

These women have taken the much riskier choice of offering women online what they crave in real life: truth in advertising.

Yes parenting can be beautiful, yes marriages can be romantic, and jobs deeply fulfilling. But each area of your life can also be at times monotonous, suffocating, frustrating, and maddening. And there is nothing wrong with that! As humans, we would never really appreciate the light if we didn’t also have to endure the shade.

For my own part, I have tried to be more truthful to the shade in my life but I still find myself constantly slipping back into the habit of airbrushing. I published a book a couple of years ago about the first year of motherhood and suffered from the biggest vulnerability hangover you can imagine. It was one thing to be honest on a page at 3AM with a screaming baby for company but quite another to have friends and strangers rifle through my reflections on those times. I mean hell, even my mum’s lawn bowl friends bought copies and then wanted to discuss at length.

I knew full well what I was doing when I published and a large part of me was grateful that people were so engaged to take the time to read the book. But I was crippled with the fear of unleashing truth and being judged because of it. To a large extent, I still am.

The thing is though…none of us are really that dissimilar.

Yes we may drive different cars, live in different cities, have different educational backgrounds etc. but we are all mothers. I can’t tell you the number of times a woman has told me she laughed or cried along in recognition at what I had written. Even the bits – actually, especially the bits – where I felt like a freak or a terrible mother for writing what I did.

I’m pretty sure the mummy bloggers would say something similar about writing their own truths. You can also see it in the comments written in response to posts. The lesson is there for us to learn over and over again in our Facebook newsfeeds every single day: telling the truth may seem scary because we are taking a punt on being vulnerable but, as parents, it is worth the risk.

Ah god yes, it is so worth the risk. Why? Because truth binds us together. When we deny the truth, we are isolating ourselves from each other and cutting off chances at connection. Yes, the image we want to project remains safe but we are also airbrushing ourselves out of existence. And we are all the poorer for it. And far less funny.

So how was your day? Mine was crap.

Can you relate? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • I can relate sure, Like most of us though, some days are good, some are so so and some are just plain crap.

    Reply

  • I think when people ask “how was your day?” or how are you?” they often aren’t interested to hear a serious and truthful answer. However when our family, friends or good neighbours ask this question most of us are truthful. Personally I don’t desire to share my day or my feelings of the day with someone who’s not truly interested.

    Reply

  • I had a good day today – felt good, had a run [had a hip replacement 6 months ago, so this is a first] but my husband felt crap – he doesn’t want to live with what he is going through, and I can’t do anything to help.
    I was living interstate but my mother used to tell me these things while my dad was still alive, but after he died, everytime I phoned her -she would say “I’m on top of the world”.
    Was this her way of getting through her days, and trying to not let me worry? I don’t know.
    She eventually got involved with a man who while his wife was alive was a close friend of my parents. It took her 4 weeks and many phone calls where I kept saying, What’s wrong? before she finally said I’m involved with a new man, but you will think I am a cradle snatcher. She was 6 months older than my dad -who cared, this time she was 4 years older than her new man [at the time she was 78 and he was 74]. Maybe that was the stoicism of the day.
    I am still interstate of my children, but do try to keep them abreast of anything ill toward of me and they know my hubby hasn’t too long to go on this mortal coil [however he has survived prostate cancer for 17 years and his lung cancer seems to be coming under control, but overall he is ill and his kidney problems are not going away].
    Yes, I would love to be more truthful all the time, but other than family – who wants to know these problems? I do wish when people phone he wouldn’t answer with well I’m still alive, but I guess that’s how he feels. And he hates the check-out chicks asking ‘How are ya’.
    This is maybe a different point of view from others you will get.

    Reply

  • I think when someone says ” How are you today?” ….its more of a greeting and not a true queston so we answer accordingly where as if it was our Mum or our best friend that had asked we would answer with the truth and tell them that today wasnt one of the best.

    Reply

  • Truth in Advertising. I feel the heading and the contents of the article are quite different. Most advertisements have at least some element of truth in them. e.g. they often state the fuel consumption of a new motor vehicle. The usually overstate the economy. If your economy is that good you are lucky.
    You will never get the negative sides of a product no mater what it is

    Reply

  • do we have any other option… being an indian mom its all in the game….

    Reply

  • as a society we are programmed to say everything is ok, even when it isn’t. If you say it isn’t then you are a complainer. You can’t win really.

    Reply

  • If you answer honestly sometimes you are criticised for complaining. Little do they know that sometimes you are being very diplomatic when you complain, that the situation is actually worse than you have stated.

    Reply

  • This is so accurate! Everyone wears a mask. I prefer to be truthful

    Reply

  • Sometimes you just don’t have the time to give or receive an honest answer.

    Reply

  • I think it’s hard for women because if you complain about things at work / SAHM then there will be people who think you’re a whinger.

    Reply

  • How was your day? Lol, unfortunatley I can’t help but wear what I think on my face!
    People will already know what kind of day I am having because bitchy resting face is not a real thing for me – I’m just always stressed and cranky!

    Reply

  • Interesting article,we tend to say everything is fine when it may not be for so many reasons and it depends on who you are speaking with.

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  • This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer asks Elaine to be honest: she wants to be honest but it would mean hurting Kramer’s feelings, so she takes the path that most of us do, she lies. I think there are limits to honesty – I’d tell my friend she has something stuck in her teeth, but I wouldn’t tell her her child is a brat and her parenting needs some work. Would being honest all the time really work in our favour?

    Reply

  • Very relatable experiences. My day has been hard so far so hopefully turns better soon.

    Reply

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