Why every mother is a liar and why it's absolutely fine
OPINION: Every year, when mother's day rolls around, I get a wave of emotion over me.
Yes, I'm very grateful to be a mother, especially after our experience with infertility, where I very nearly thought that diving in to a pregnant woman's womb and taking her baby was a legitimate way to see our goals realised.
I didn't womb dive, of course, but infertility takes you to dark places.
Mother's Day also makes me sad – sad for those around me desperate to add "mother" to their LinkedIn profile, desperate to see what their offspring might look like, desperate to get what everyone else is talking about when they say it's the hardest thing you'll ever do in life when you feel like not having a baby is actually the hardest thing. And to be fair, it was on par, in my experience.
I get that. I was there. But motherhood is actually one huge lie.
Becoming a mother has made me the biggest liar I know. I lie every day. Multiple times a day.
I lie when people ask if becoming a mother was the best thing I've ever done in my life. I lie when people ask how I am and I reply "good".
Any mother who says they're "good" is probably lying too. I mean, they might not be lying by their definition of the word "good", but that could be anywhere from "I'm good – we've all got through the day and we're OK" to "I have only thought about running away 10 times today, yesterday it was 20, so that's good".
Any mother who says they love every single part of being a mother? Lies. All of it.
I lie to my husband when he's away and he asks how the kids are, depending on if I feel like being mother of the year or moaner of the year.
Sometimes I don't even realise I'm lying, like when a Plunket nurse asks if I have any questions and I say "no", but inside I'm screaming: "Why does my 2-year-old refuse my amazing dinners? How do you stop two kids from fighting? Is it normal that my kid [insert completely normal behaviour]?"
I lie to my son when I say that if he behaves while we're in the mall, I'll let him watch whatever he wants when we get home. Actually, that's not a lie, because I probably will let him watch whatever he wants when he gets home because it will give me a few minutes to myself to pour a coffee or unload the car.
See! So profound is my lying that I'm even lying to you right now.
But why all the lies? Why do mothers, especially, feel the need to cover up reality and project something so far from the truth?
I'm not going to lie (hah!), but I honestly have no idea. Much like how there's no manual for how to raise kids, there's no manual on how to adapt to the changes that happen to you when you become a mother.
There are the obvious physical ones – weight gain, saggy boobs, tiredness. But no-one really talks about the permanent things that can happen, like the hormone issues, dental problems and absolute, all-consuming loss of any sense of self. Motherhood is the biggest facade there is.
Motherhood is the only job you strive to get – if you want it and a million different things line up and you're miraculously granted the joy – and can't quit if it's not the right fit for you. You're trapped. There's no 90-day grace period.
So yes, at this time of year, the lies continue when I say I don't want anything for Mother's Day. I want everything – including spending time with my kids while simultaneously being away from them so I can sleep, think, relax, unwind.
I want breakfast in bed and I want a sleep in, but I can't really have both.
That's the paradox of motherhood right there – sometimes I want to rewind the clock back to a time when I was childless and only had responsibility over myself. But I also really want the big toothy smiles, the cute giggles, the crappy artwork to hang on the walls, the ridiculously cute outfits to dress them up in and the arms-wrapped-around-your-neck-so-tight-you-choke cuddles.
So this Sunday, on Mother's Day, no matter where you are on the spectrum of motherhood – missing your mum, wanting to be a mum, you're super close with you mum, love being a professional auntie, tired of being a mum, haven't spoken to your mum in ages or just about to enter motherhood and everything in between – let the walls come down on the lies. Just for one day.
Do what makes you feel good, put yourself first for once, and nurture yourself. Before it's Monday again and just another day.