If your life is great, we can’t be friends.

If your career is amazing and fulfilling, if your life as a stay at home mom is always blissful, if your children are brilliant and above grade average and they frolic on your manicured lawn in freshly ironed and monogrammed clothing, we can’t be friends.

If you sent your sick child to school because you couldn’t find a sitter and you had to get that work project done, if your house is more of a disaster now that you stay home, if your decision of what to wear is based not on fashion but on what doesn’t have to be ironed, I’m liking you already.

 

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In my job, people confess things to me. They rationalize why they stole the money, beat the kid, lied to their constituents.

I get to have a complete relationship with someone in the span of a few hours. We meet as strangers, but by the time I leave, I know their greatest regret, what they wish they’d told their mother before she died, how they still hope to turn their lives around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into an interview knowing I will not like the person, only to leave feeling I’ve made a new friend. Because we cleared away the stuff that didn’t matter, and got to the root. Once the underbelly is exposed, we can move on.  Okay, that was the dark. Now surely there is some light.

That’s why I’m perplexed by people who make a show of being perfect, of seeming to have a perfect life. The woman who talks about her extraordinarily brilliant child, the same child who hits me repeatedly and forcefully on the butt every time I’m within striking distance, while his mother coos, “Oh he likes you!” The woman who fake complains her size 4 pants are too big ever since she committed to that paleo/raw vegan/hoodoo voodoo diet — the manufactured confession made while my own pants bite into my waist from that burrito lunch. The yoga-gear outfitted woman at the grocery store in full hair and make up,  insisting she just rolled out of bed, stuffing kale juice and kale greens and mounds of kale everything into her cart, while I try to hide my whipped cream and cookies under my purse. These people are my kryptonite. I can feel my life force fleeing my body as they speak.

The antidote is my friends, some wildly successful, some not — who admit their children drive them so crazy they want to put themselves in timeout, who find the way their husband chews his food/blows his nose/gargles, is face-punch-worthy at times, who confess they hate working/hate staying home, who lie to friends and medical professionals about how much they work out/have sex/floss their teeth/do breast self exams. These are my people. They are a mess. And I am them.

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A few years ago I had coffee with one of these perfect women. Our children went to school together and she had repeatedly e-mailed me to get together.  She knew me from the news and I couldn’t figure out whether she was pursuing me as a mommy friend or it was a tv thing. She arrived in a fancy car and fancy clothes with lots of designer logos blinking at me.  It didn’t take long for her to mention their home on Sea Island, their membership to the Piedmont Driving Club, their jet. Seriously, their jet.

My coffee date looked sort of like this.

My coffee date looked sort of like this.

Now, during this perfection blitz I noticed that I had white scum all the way down the thigh of the black pants I was wearing for the second time that week. And  I suddenly felt very bad and self conscious about my black orthopedically comfortable loafers that were so scuffed they were now grey. But the tipping point was when I mentioned that the specialized private school our boys were attending — because of learning disabilities — was expensive, difficult to pay for, but worth it. She looked stricken, beneath her swingy hair and shiny lipgloss — like I had just pulled up my shirt in the coffee shop and asked her to inspect a suspicious mole on my stomach.  I never saw her again. Trust me, I was thrilled, but it was clear I had failed some initial perfect lady test by admitting to a struggle with something.

I prefer my messy life, with its scuffed shoes and black pants(sometimes worn three times if it’s a really bad week). I prefer my friends with big jobs and no jobs and low libidos and laundry piled high. I don’t want  to hear how you’re great. I want to hear how you’re not great. It doesn’t mean you’re unhappy or I’m unhappy. It means we’re human.

I have bad news for my perfect acquaintances. You may live in a different zip code than me, but we hail from the same town and it’s called Crazyland.  The difference is I don’t hide it. Afterall,  perfect people almost never make it on the news.

 

 

 

 

 

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33 comments on “If your life is great, we can’t be friends.
  1. Kenny Hamilton says:

    Too funny and so so true. We love people who are willing to make fun of themselves.

  2. Jeanine says:

    Love it!! And so true!

  3. Will Stark says:

    You do talk a lot.. but I loved it.

  4. Will Stark says:

    No just making fun of themselves….but being honest.

  5. Jill Becker says:

    I’m you coffee date…right??? It’s me, isn’t it?? Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. LOVED this, sweetie. You’ve hit some lovely stride with this format. I look forward to downloading your app, or whatever would be an equally appropriate compliment.
    Xoxo

  6. JUST LOVE THIS!!! I hear you so well – and if anything the school our kids go to now is bursting at the seams with these ‘perfect moms’. I used to find the pressure unbearable – now I thrive on being the crazy eccentric English bird who doesn’t conform to the ‘Buckhead’ stereotype – and I LOVE it! Can’t wait to read more of your anecdotes.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      I thought I was at a garden party at our school’s open house. I was the ONLY mom in pants, black, of course.

  7. Amanda says:

    I always loved you, but now I know I love love you!! Wish i lived closer to you and our other not perfect friend so we could all be not perfect together!

  8. Yayyyy. I love it. Glad we can be friends. 🙂
    Love the blog.

  9. Kristy says:

    This is perfect!

  10. jessica says:

    Hilarious and refreshing! Took the boys to work with me today (very trying) and as I finally sit down to inhale lunch while putting my kids in time out for the 64th time today, this has given me a much needed chuckle. love you, jennifer, so glad we are pals.

  11. Vivian Watson says:

    Every word, soooooooooo true! I knew you were a great writer but, WOW! Cannot wait to see what is next!
    Love you!

  12. Sabrina says:

    What? Here all these years, ever since my 9th grade paper on “who do you look up to/ your role model”, I thought you, my beautiful, smart, kind cousin WAS the ‘perfect person.’ whew! so glad to know i don’t have to be so perfect afterall! love you, great blog!

  13. Rayshuan Voltz says:

    Loved it!

  14. Jean says:

    Loved this. We, the people, not TV people, are so glad that you all are “normal” too. We get to think of you as family because we watch you so much, but wonder how you would react to us if you met us. Now we know. We all have our good days and bad days and want to punch someone some of the time. Glad that is out in the open now. We’re not perfect, imagine that. NO one is, that is what makes us all unique in our own special way. I wish sometimes that I had a useful talent, but I probably do and just do not know it. Thanks for your point of view. It is so refreshing to be real and not pretending everything is okay all the time. Anybody with a brain should know better. Looking forward to reading more!! THANKS!!

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thanks for calling me normal, but you may want to revise your word choice once I really start confessing.

  15. elizabeth godard says:

    LOL.. I just have to stare at those moms who seem to be able to “do it all” you know the ones…I feel every word you are sayin! I think sometimes it’s the mystique of Television.. I’ve had it happen recently.. they think that because we work in TV, we are wealthy well put together folk.. when we are just rushin out the door tryin to make sure we haven’t forgotten the baby! I love your take on things Jaye.. I know I say that all the time to you but I honestly do mean it.. and I don’t care if you have schmutz on your pants!

  16. Jaye Watson says:

    The wonderfully awesome thing about all of you(besides your incredibly kind and encouraging words)is that I don’t think a clicky-heeled perfect lady would dare to enter this forum. Til next time…xoxo

  17. Tom says:

    Great blog post! Perfect is out, just be yourself! That’s the way God made you (and me!)

  18. Lisa mason says:

    Great job sis!
    Love you.

  19. Erin says:

    Who has a low libido – not me! ha ha You have to search long and hard for happily, imperfect friends and I’m so glad you are one of mine!! Keep posting!

  20. A.D.D. Kelly says:

    my floors, toilets and oven are a science experiment…okay the laundry,too.So much so I’m convinced CDC is on their way to give my house clearance.
    makeup? yeah, right. I forget to take my a.d.d. medication daily.
    Jaye,u make it safe to b a NORMAL,HUMAN mom. That’s why we love you!

  21. Valerie Hoff says:

    Awesome! The cool thing about Yoga pants is you can turn them inside out and wear them again 🙂

  22. Elizabeth Crabbe says:

    Jaye – Your two blog posts remind me of my young mother years – the ones where my husband was on the road somewhere, my children were in nursery all day and I scrambled around from one chore to the next with my house looking like a bomb went off while I was just trying to be all things to all people. I used to love all the perfect soccer mothers on the bleachers who would state unequivocally, “oh, my child would never (say, act, behave, do) that,” or “we would never have something like that happen in our home,” their list of outrage went on and on. I always wondered what sort of white bread life did they live? Now, here we are, years later, and strangely, the children from that era all grew up; some of them have amazing lives; some sadly do not; what is interesting to me is that the passage of years and all the great efforts put in to parenting have a great leveling effect on all mothers. Hang in there and enjoy those children – relate to them and leave the pretentious moms and the outraged people in your congregation to their own devices!

  23. I was very delighted to find this site on google.I wanted to say thanks to you with regard to this excellent read!! I undoubtedlyloved every little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to have a look at new stuff you post.

  24. Short Chick says:

    Oh man did I love this!! You mean, I can still go to Starbucks using last month’s coupon in my yoga pants turned inside out in “Stepford-ville” and feel like I have a friend?! Cannot wait for you to publish–(cuz you totally should)your first book. I will be first in line with a glass of wine just for you! (Because as busy, crazy, trying to get it all in moms,well hey, we deserve it. 🙂 Thanks for the thoughts!

  25. Adair says:

    People that cannot laugh at themselves, really are not much fun.
    We can laugh at the fact that by the time we get to market, we are eating whatever we can find in the freezer that we did not really want, which is why it is still there in the first place.
    We can laugh that as the children grow, gifts get much, much small but much much, more expensive.
    That a “date night” may be a trip to market, without the kids, to pick out the food we want to eat, not the food on their lists.
    People that say they have it all together worry me. I never know when their world is going to fall apart and I do not want to witness such disaster.
    I prefer to prepare for disaster one little step at a time, progressively.

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  1. […] yet she clings tenaciously to what appears to be a genuine belief in the human spirit.  Her first post is an essay lauding flawed women.  It raises our hopes […]

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