Friend and fellow mom Samantha Bee, of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart fame, tells her pregnant pals, "Remember this one thing: all moms lie."
Not exactly as heart warming as the old stand-by, "Cherish every moment, because they grow up quick," but definitely practical. Says Bee, "I meant it sort of lovingly, not bitterly -- and I work very diligently in my own life to combat the impulse to 'sweeten' my own parenting stories."
I don't have a statistic handy on mom fibs, or "mibs," but I can tell you that we moms know how to spin a yarn. Seems like it's the mom equivalent of rounding down your weight and age. Here are a few choice mibs, and the truths they represent:
• "My baby was sleeping through the night at six months." (Her baby slept through the night once at eight months, then didn't do it again for another year.)
• "I've never left my baby with anyone!" (She's left her baby with a neighbour, a relative, and a 12-year-old babysitter, but never a nanny.)
• "My baby took the bottle on his first try." (Her baby took the bottle on his eighteenth try.)
These exaggerations would have gone unnoticed if the husbands (notoriously bad secret-keepers) didn't give them away after a few drinks. "She told you what?! No way! Our daughter was so colicky, my wife once grabbed a pair of scissors and threatened to give me an at-home vasectomy on the spot!"
"Mibbing" isn't mean-spirited, but new moms gravitate to experienced moms to get tips and validation for the uphill parts of the parenting gig. Mibs may make new moms feel inadequate or just unlucky by comparison. Why would they say those things? What possible reason would a mom have for lying? I decided to ask an expert: myself.
When I started paying attention to my own stories, I realized they bordered the line between fact and fiction. Here are some of my mibs:
• "We hire someone to look after our kids every now and then." (We have a full time caregiver... but I only work part time, and don't feel like justifying my laziness to the world.)
• "My kids are best friends." (It's heavenly when they get along, but my selective memory blacks out the daily arguments they have about whose turn it is to turn on the TV... the same TV I've claimed we rarely watch)
• "My son's over his cold." (I'm wiping his nose every six minutes -- but I'm going to go crazy if we're quarantined another day!)
My mibs mostly stem from self-consciousness, or humour -- what I say is way funnier when I tell the "truth and a half." But I realized the error of my ways when a few weeks ago, a new mom told me, "I'm not as lucky as you. My son really got upset when I brought the new baby home, and they're always fighting for my attention." So I clarified my revisionist history, and man, was she relieved to hear that her kids aren't the only ones turning mealtime into fork-fights.
Experiencing embarrassment over our shortcomings isn't so bad compared with the validation we can offer new moms. So bring on the honesty!
Samantha Bee went first: "My daughter wasn't fully potty trained until she was almost four. I own that!"
Me next: "I'm a TV-allowing, fork-fight-tolerating, potty-training-procrastinating mom."