When I was a child my Grandpa told me a story about lying which I have never forgotten – he used to work as a bursar at an all girls school and for some reason was often encouraged to join in the sixth formers debating sessions. To his horror the topic one week was sex education and when my Grandmother asked him what the subject was he was so embarrassed that he told her it was sailing. So the debate came and went and the following week the headteacher joined my grandparents for dinner. The conversation turned to the weekly debates and the headteacher told my Grandmother how well my Grandpa had done the previous week given the subject matter. My Grandmother then proceeded to tell the headteacher that she didn’t know why seeing as my Grandpa wasn’t very good at it, had only done it twice and the second time his hat had blown off. Needless to say the confusion that arose out of Grandpa’s lie was enough to put him off telling white lies for a while!
So the above anecdote may have been somewhat fabricated by my Grandpa who loved to tell us stories that amused us (and they all did) but it certainly served a purpose to illustrate that lies can be confusing and lead to misunderstanding. Nothing confuses me more than what I have been told by numerous midwives and health visitors ‘if they say they’re sleeping through the night then they’re lying’. Really? Who are these mums who lie about how breezy life is with a newborn? What purpose does it serve them to pretend it’s all as easy as a solo supermarket shop? Now, I have had three children and know that some inevitably sleep better than others (my third sleeps through- she’s my favourite) but what about the people who skip along with their brood trailing behind them stopping only to speak to the animals? You know the ones who look quizzical and change the subject if you suggest your day has been less than fantastic?
Shortly after having my second child I was heading to someone’s house for a play date, I didn’t know her very well then and was having an atrocious day. You know the ones- your toddler hasn’t napped and is screaming the house down, it takes half an hour to get out the door and by then the newborn needs a feed and has joined in the god awful wailing which is enough to make the neighbours call the council and suggest someone is slaughtering a family of pigs. I was walking to her house and by the time I had got up the hill I had joined in the wailing, I was sleep deprived, hungry and had naively assumed everyone would just fall asleep in the double buggy as soon as we started moving, they didn’t, the kids have got stamina- you’ve got to give them that. So I called her and left a message on her answerphone, it basically said ‘can you hear that noise in the background? Yeah… so that is actually not a family of pigs being slaughtered- despite what Tunbridge Wells council will have you believe- that is my children and they are not happy and I am unable to inflict this level of noise pollution on you’ I then started to walk home and admitted defeat, feeling humiliated that something as simple as a play date had been too much for me. I got a text from my friend shortly after and it simply said ‘I fucking hate days like that’. At that point in time I needed nothing more than that – to hear some honest empathy. Sometimes you just want to hear that other people have found it tough too, that you’re not the only one struggling with the most basic of tasks.
I do feel like I can deliver a level of honesty which at times can be detrimental. Don’t ask me if your bum looks big in that or how my labours wentï whilst you are pregnant but please do tell me about that time you were so tired you cried in the post office queue or when you had one of those WTF am I doing with my life moments because trust me, I’ve had them too, and those of you who say you haven’t are lying.
Ps It is totally acceptable to lie if you do have a baby who sleeps through the night, can be put down sleepy but awake or who isn’t grumpy post nap. Especially if you see me and I am wailing like a pig being slaughtered.