Mommies are not perfect, but that’s a secret we try to hide from the world, most of all from our kids. We want our children to see us as strong, reasonable, and completely involved in their affairs, even though the truth is there are times when we become passive or impatient, because we’re just plain tired.
When the product is not as perfect as the promise, we instinctively turn to an old marketing trick – semantics – to stay the hero in our children’s eyes. It’s not all self-serving -- an unshaken confidence in their mothers’ devotion gives children the feeling of security that helps them to bravely face each day.
Here are some of the things we say in our supermom personas – and what we in our true selves really mean:
What Mom says: “Yes.” What it actually means: “I can’t talk right now.”
My children love how open minded their mom can be: “Can we have instant noodles for dinner?” Yes. “Can we go to the lawn, dig up the soil, and make mud castles all over the front yard?” Go ahead. “Can we bring the pillows to the living room, pile them up on the floor and the sofa, and pretend we’re skiing down a mountain?” As long as you don’t break your neck.
It’s not that Mom doesn’t dream of preparing balanced meals, maintaining a manicured lawn, and sleeping on clean pillows. It’s just that right now, Mom is on the phone, or brushing her teeth, or trying to beat a deadline.
If what you kids are asking for won’t end up with you getting fatally injured or kidnapped or poisoned, then go ahead and do it while Mom finishes up whatever is preventing her from talking right now.
When the toothbrushing is done, the phone has been hung up, and the deadline has been met, Mom will reconsider her decision. Keep your fingers crossed.
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What Mom says: “I’ll think about it.” What it actually means: “No.”
Mom can be lenient with some things, like unhealthy dinners and unsanitary beddings.
But you want to take a bath in the rain – except, it’s not just rain, it’s a thunderstorm. While Mom doesn’t mind thunder so much, she does worry about the lightning that always comes with it. So when you ask to go out under that flashing sky, “yes” is out of the question.
Unfortunately, you’re not the type to easily take no for an answer. “But Mom,” you say, “the chances of me getting hit by lightning is smaller than your chance of winning the lottery.”
With that kind of attitude, you’ll probably make money in sales someday. But right now, Mom can’t listen to your sales talk. She’s busy composing an email trying to tactfully remind her client that their payment is two weeks overdue. She’s just not in the right frame of mind for the kind of discussion that saying “no” would result in.
So Mom avoids saying no by saying “I’ll think about it” instead. For you, that offers hope. For Mom, that buys some time so she can finish writing her collection email.