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What Moms Say and What They Really Mean

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One of the skills you quickly develop upon becoming a mom is the ability to lie, and to do so effortlessly, with no guilt. It becomes as natural as breathing. It’s done partially to spare others the awkwardness of hearing about your crappy day and partially to save face in front of those people who seem to do everything in perfect, Pinterest-worthy fashion.

For the most part, we lie because we’re scared that all the other moms have this parenting thing down to a science, and we’re the only ones just barely muddling through.

But maybe all the moms out there would feel better being a little more truthful. In hopes of opening up the lines of honest mom-to-mom communication, I put together a handy guide for translating some common mom phrases.

1. We’ve been having a little trouble with potty training, but we’re almost there!

Translation: My child poops in every corner of my home. I am scared that someone will report our house to the authorities, like they do with the people who hoard animals. I have tried every form of bribery to no avail. Immediately upon ending this conversation, I will order more Pampers off Amazon and resign myself to the fact that Oliver will go off to college in diapers.

2. My husband really helps out a lot.

Translation: Although I love him dearly, there is a really close to zero percent chance that my husband will follow an instruction containing more than one explicit directive. If I start to have a nervous breakdown (real or faked), I can usually count on him to step up his game for at least 15 minutes or until a child has to be disciplined, whichever comes first.

3. I get along so much better with my mother-in-law since having kids.

Translation: I have learned that free overnight babysitting is worth having my self-image eroded through a combination of direct and indirect criticism.

4. I’m going to get back to the gym when the kids go to school.

Translation: College is a form of school, and who knows? Maybe by 2029 maybe they’ll have invented a workout that I can do while sitting down. And eating.

5. I love my job, but miss being home with the kids.

Translation: I dislike both going to work and staying home; the decision was made by a cost-benefit analysis which included the fact that I get to wear yoga pants at home, but at work I don’t have to deal with urine (see #1).

6. Jayden is a little jealous of the baby, but he really loves her!

Translation: We have locked up the knives and other sharp objects after a few ambiguous situations.  

7. We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Translation: I celebrate my husband’s decision that it’s “just a Hallmark holiday” by being extra passive-aggressive and Google stalking my high school ex-boyfriends after the kids go to bed. I eat all the chocolate my kids got at school and tell them it accidentally got thrown away.

8. I love the holiday season!

Translation: My favorite part is the extra ten pounds I put on, but going into debt and the stress of hanging out with extended family are close seconds!

9. We should totally get the kids together for a playdate!

Translation: I am putting out a feeler here. If you like me, you will start discussing possible dates. If you don’t like me, you will just say “Sure” and then I will feel like a giant idiot. Please be nice to me, my mental and emotional state are pretty tenuous right now (read: since my first pregnancy six years ago).

10. Madison is so cute!  I love her dress!

Translation:  I’m trying to have a conversation with another adult for the first time today, even if it’s at pre-school pickup. I don’t really care about the dress. I’m not actually sure if that child’s name is even Madison.  But the only other people I have spoken to today have soft spots on their heads or wear Pull-ups.

Keep this guide in mind at your next playdate in order to decipher what the mom you’re talking to really means. Remember, no matter what you hear a mom say, we are all in this together, and it’s more likely than not that she feels just as overwhelmed as you do.

So, as we tell our kids, honesty is the best policy (except maybe when it comes to talking to your mother-in-law). And to be honest, life with kids may be tough, but it’s all worth it. Especially if you have a mom friend to honestly share the ups and downs with you.

Samantha Rodman PhD is a clinical psychologist and mom of three who blogs at Dr. Psych Mom and hangs out on Facebook when her kids can occupy themselves for a minute.

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